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Berry Tramel: Texas' Mack Brown is winning the close ones

by Berry Tramel Published: December 10, 2009
Tressel is better, though nowhere near as good as Brown.

Brown’s 21-4 record in games decided by three points or less is the best I’ve found this side of Barry Switzer, who was 18-1-4.

But Mack wasn’t so magical at North Carolina and Tulane, where he was 8-9-1 in field-goal games and 21-25-1 in TD games.

No surprise there. Your record ought to be better at Texas than at Tulane and Carolina.

Does clutch coaching even exist? Or are close football games like one-run baseball games, which almost always even out over time?

College football can be too unwieldy to analyze. But the NFL definitely has the parameters necessary to determine if coaches’ record in close games is an indication of their game management.

I ran the records of a variety of NFL coaches. Some recent, some vintage. All successful.

Only two coaches stood out. John Madden and Tony Dungy.

Dungy was 34-17 in field-goal games, a .667 percentage, and 67-43 in touchdown games. Helps to coach half your career with Peyton Manning.

But Peyton Manning didn’t quarterback John Madden’s Oakland Raiders. Long John Madden went 21-6-7 in field-goal games and 46-16-7 in touchdown games.

In a parity-driven league, those are remarkable percentages, .721 and .717.

Madden’s teams somehow had the belief and the training to win close games.

Mack Brown’s teams apparently have the same, even if he did come perilously close to letting the clock strike midnight.

Berry Tramel: 405-760-8080; Berry Tramel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.

by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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