SAN DIEGO (AP) - More than two decades after they first met, Dennis Erickson and Mack Brown finally get to coach against each other.
They've crossed paths for years at coaching clinics and on junkets. Erickson has won two national championships and Brown has one.
They can't say enough nice things about each other, and probably will right up until kickoff of the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 27, when Erickson's 12th-ranked Arizona State Sun Devils play Brown's No. 17 Texas Longhorns. It will also be the first meeting between the schools.
``Mack and I go back so many years, he's as gray as I am,'' Erickson joked at a news conference on Wednesday.
It's clear the two genuinely like each other.
``What you want to do in a bowl game is play somebody that you have great respect for,'' Brown said. ``That doesn't always happen. You want to play a team that's played great and is well-coached and has great respect.
``I've known Dennis since even before Miami, going way, way back, and have great respect for him. He's won everywhere he's ever been. He knows how to coach football.''
Brown certainly knows that Texas fans remember when Erickson's Miami Hurricanes routed the Longhorns 46-3 in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 1, 1991.
Erickson led the Sun Devils to a 10-2 record in his first season in Tempe. Texas, two seasons removed from winning the national championship with a Rose Bowl victory over Southern California, is 9-3.
Both coaches are looking forward to the challenge.
``We feel like we're very, very fortunate,'' Brown said. ``We're going to be playing a BCS-caliber football team in the Holiday Bowl and it can't get any better than that. It will be fun for both teams to compete.
M. ``We played up and down. We didn't play to our standard all the time. Our guys needed a really good opponent to get a challenge to get excited about. We got it. We got all we wanted. It's an exciting challenge for us,'' Brown said.
Erickson said the Sun Devils, who lost to Oregon and USC, are excited to play the Longhorns.
``When you think about college football, I mean, you think about 'SC, you think of Ohio State, you think of Texas,'' he said. ``That's a perennial power. That's what college football is all about. It's unbelievable. So for our guys to have the opportunity to play a storied program like that is great. Our guys are really, really excited about it.''
Texas will be making its fourth Holiday Bowl appearance in eight seasons. It will be the third trip to San Diego for the Sun Devils.

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