KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Finally, the rock stars arrived at the downtown Marriott.
The two coaches who define Big 12 football. The two coaches who can walk through the lobby and turn heads. The two coaches who have brought Middle America its gridiron glory this century.
Mack Brown and Bob Stoops.
A Big 12 football carnival that for two days had been celebrity-challenged got a double dose Wednesday, the finale of media days.
Normally, the Big 12 separates its flagship programs, not because Sooners and Longhorns will grab butter knives over lunch and start street-fighting, but because spotlight bulbs burn out when both heavyweights share the same day.
But the doubleheader was beneficial. Seeing these old lions — 56-year-old Mack is turning gray, and Stoops, 47, has got to start someday soon — one after another, within a matter of minutes, brought new clarity to their now-decade-old rivalry.
This Bob-and-Mack Show, already special, has a chance to be historic.
Neither coach shows signs of slowing down as they reach their 10th season of jostling each other for Big 12 South supremacy. Stay on their posts much longer, and Stoops and Brown will approach some of the greatest coaching rivalries in college football.
North of the Red River, the most epic of foes are Barry Switzer and Tom Osborne, Oklahoma-Nebraska combatants who dueled 17 times over 16 seasons.
Deep in the heart of Texas, the preferred flavor is Darrell Royal vs. Frank Broyles, who fenced 19 straight seasons in Texas-Arkansas games.
Royal-Broyles is the longest-running rivalry I found in an afternoon researching major-college football.
Will Stoops and Brown, after nine years of Cotton Bowl collisions, last another decade to reach the standard of Royal and Broyles?
You know what? They just might.
Mack says he's going nowhere "as long as I'm healthy and as long as we're doing the job that's best for the University of Texas. If we're not doing our job and Texas could do better, then we would not be one of those that would want to stand in the way.”
The only place Brown might go is the athletic director's chair, when DeLoss Dodds retires. For sure, the Longhorns will find no better coach. Mack has restored the Texas tradition, with 76 wins the last seven years and the 2005 national title.
Stoops has trumped even that, with 90 wins the last eight years, the 2000 national championship and five
Big 12 titles, in a league in which no other coach has won more than one.
Stoops offered better-than-usual clues on why he's content in Norman.