Breaking up is hard to do, even if you're calling it a "mutual decision," as Mack Brown has been so eloquent to do last weekend about ending his relationship with Texas football. The team's head coach announced Sunday that he will step down after Dec. 30's Alamo Bowl in San Antonio against No. 10 Oregon, closing a tenure that lasted 16 years.
While Brown is now a single Duck hunt away from transitioning into a special assistant role to UT president Bill Powers, new athletic director Steve Patterson's search for the program's next head coach is already underway.
And while Texas owns the wealthiest athletics budget in the country, their bottomless coffer couldn't dissuade four-time national champion Nick Saban from signing a big contract extension with Alabama last Friday. Saban-mania died that day, but UT's football team – 30-20 record since 2010 and all – still has the cachet to go after anyone they want.
National speculation abounds as to who'll inherit the kingdom, but the viable names floating around are as star-studded as it gets: Ohio State's Urban Meyer, Les Miles from LSU, Baylor bandleader Art Briles, Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy, and UCLA's Jim Mora, as well as NFL coaches like Jim Harbaugh, Pete Carroll, and recently fired Texans coach Gary Kubiak. Penn State's Bill O'Brien and Vanderbilt's James Franklin are also receiving mounting attention as dark horse candidates in the staff pool.
Whoever Texas inks, it begs to question of what will become of Brown's staff, particularly coordinators Greg Robinson, who rescued an awful unit from Manny Diaz this year, and offensive counterpart Major Applewhite, who may have engineered a few more points against Baylor if he hadn't lost quarterback David Ash early in the year and lead rusher Johnathan Gray midway through.
They may both be coaching for their jobs come next Monday, when the Longhorns try to send Brown out grinning against a speedy Oregon squad that'll be tough to dismiss. Behind stud QB Marcus Mariota, the Ducks have averaged 46.8 points per game – a total Texas eclipsed only once the whole year.