Damn near all of Austin got thrown for a loop Tuesday afternoon when Chip Brown of OrangeBloods.com came forth with the news that Mack Brown plans to resign as head coach this week after 16 seasons at the Longhorns' helm. Brown and the university denied the report.
"If I had decided to step down," the coach replied from south Florida, where he said he was recruiting, "I sure wouldn't be killing myself down here."
Brown's Longhorns lost a crucial game at No. 6 Baylor on Saturday that some felt would spell sudden death for the long-tenured coach. Without a Big 12 title and its subsequent Fiesta Bowl invite, The Longhorn's (8-4, 7-2 in the Big 12) consolation prize is an Alamo Bowl date with No. 10 Oregon (10-2) on Dec. 30, which, these days, just ain't gonna be good enough.
At 158-47, Brown is the second-winningest head coach in Texas school history, having led UT to two Big 12 titles, nine straight seasons of 10 or more wins, 15 bowl games, four BCS bowls, a BCS title in 2005, and a second title-game appearance in 2009. The 62-year-old veteran would be invincible if time stopped right there. But Brown frequently touts UT football as "Austin's professional team," and in the business of professional sports, the million-dollar question is always "What have you done for me lately?" In his case, the answer is "Not enough."
Since 2010, Brown has failed according to every barometer of success for a high-end program – save the money he's generated for the school. Conference championships and BCS bowls? None. Defending the home field? The Horns haven't beaten a ranked opponent at DKR in their last eight tries. Beating OU? One win in four years, and a 29-point margin of defeat in three losses. Recruiting superior talent at quarterback? Check the depth chart. Those guys have all gone to Baylor, A&M, and TCU.
Brown's exceptional record and decorations during his first 12 seasons as coach speak for themselves, but it would be a classic case of addition-by-subtraction for the program's future if Tuesday's rumors foreshadow the end of an era.
Texas is, in effect, an 8-5 program the last four seasons. Since then, when they've lost, it's been by an average of 17 points. They can't beat good teams with consistency, and their biggest problem is that nobody expects them to. Mack needs to bow out before every young footballer in the country starts believing UT has become a second-rate program inside a fancy shell.
2015's recruits will have been in elementary school the last time UT factored into the national championship conversation. Texas' future depends on a big splash of new blood.