AUSTIN (KXAN) — The red carpet at the annual Mack, Jack and McConnaughey gala at the Moody theatre always has plenty of burnt orange flair. But this year, baby blue had a strong presence thanks to Mack Brown.
“It’s actually what the last thing I wore on ESPN,” Brown, the new head coach at North Carolina said. “I had the jacket here, but it’s Carolina blue, so we’ll just let it go for both.”
“I haven’t seen him in that baby blue yet, so when I see that, I’ll be like, ‘Hmmm,'” UT athletic director Chris Del Conte joked.
Even Academy Award winner and MJ&M co-founder Matthew McConaughey even chimed in on Brown’s sartorial choices.
“I said, ‘You’re telling me that’s accidental that there’s a little Carolina blue there in the pocket?'” McConaughey laughed.
After five years as a college football analyst for ESPN, Brown took the head coaching job at UNC in November. He spent 10 years in Chapel Hill as the head coach from 1988 to 1997 before his legendary run at Texas.
I was fortunate enough to become friends with him through being a UT coach, football coach,” McConaughey said. “But also, over all those years, I became friends with him as [a] man, [outside of him being a] UT coach, and now afterwards. I’m happy for him because he’s doing what he loves to do. He was doing great in the booth, but I think he was kinda gnawing his molars over there going like, ‘I gotta get back in it,’ which he’s doing, so I’m happy for him.”
So far, Brown’s off to a smooth start back in a town that still remembers his incredible run of success in his first tenure. The Tar Heels got through spring practice and now the focus shifts to offseason workouts ahead of training camp starting in August. As Brown points out, times don’t get much better for a coach than during this honeymoon phase.
“We’re undefeated and an undefeated coach is always good,” Brown said with a smile. “I always said the time between a coach taking a job and his first game is his best time ever. So we’re having a good time. Kids have responded, we had a great spring practice. We’ve got a lot of things to fix, so we gotta get better. We’ve got a tough schedule next year, but that’s what coaching’s all about. We love coming in and trying to fix it.”
That tough schedule includes some familiar faces for Brown. His debut with Carolina is against South Carolina and Will Muschamp, his defensive coordinator for three years at UT. Muschamp was named the head coach in waiting before leaving for his first head coaching job at Florida. He helped lead Texas to the 2009 national championship game against Alabama in the Rose Bowl.
Brown’s second game is against Miami, which is lead by first-year head coach Manny Diaz. Diaz, who replaced Muschamp as DC at Texas from 2011 to 2013. His reunion with Brown might not be as warm as Muschamp’s because Diaz was fired just two games into the season after a blowout loss at BYU.
Familiar foes on the sidelines are nothing new for Brown, though.
“I’ve coached against assistants of mine before, I’ve coached against a brother before, so really and truly, it’s fun up until the game, then you forget who’s on the other sideline, you go try to coach,” Brown said.
Despite the move back to Carolina, Brown still has plenty of roots in Austin, as this weekend’s MJ&M events clearly demonstrate.
“It’s really important,” Brown said. “We’re gonna keep a presence here, we’re gonna keep a place here. We’ve got two sons here and grandkids. It’s one of our favorite places in the world.”
The MJ&M event has continued to grow. Now in it’s seventh year, has raised nearly $10 million, according ot its website, supporting five different charities.
“It’s contiunued to build,” McConaughey said. “I would say get better. What I mean by get better is we’re still raising good money, the event’s still fun and with each year, we’re getting more and more science to show the people that give how it’s working to help out a lot of kids. So in that way it’s getting better.”