Mack Brown will not be the head football coach at the University of Texas this time next week. It is the right move by the school, its board of regents, and its powerful men with money.
I adore Brown and have admired him for the past 16 years. The guy has been a model college football coach for 12 seasons at the highest level and he’s won impossible games, disciplined efficiently (see: Taylor, Ramonce), and has kept a pristine compliance department. There was a decade where the guy ran high school football coaches in the state of Texas like a mob boss. His record in close games is extraordinary, and it’s because he’s so good at the one-on-one teacher level. He used to be a kicker in college and he always has really sharp, clutch kickers in his back pocket that have given Texas fans consistent last minute heroics. He was smart enough to get out of Vince Young’s way.
But Brown stood pat too long and the politics passed him by. He had five de-commits in 2013 to Baylor, Texas A&M, Auburn, Notre Dame, and TCU. He’s getting attacked and burned on the recruiting trail. Baylor and the Aggies have a brighter future. The class of 2013 had no defensive lineman. He’s now 6-9 against Bob Stoops. He’s lost three of the last four to Baylor. He waited until this season to hire a player personnel director, as the position rose and became critical to success on the recruiting trail in college football.
His quarterback carousel got ridiculous–too often giving keys to the offense to high school juniors (Tyrone Swoopes, Garrett Gilbert); nepotism at his worst with Colt’s baby-armed little brother Case prowling campus as daddy hung around the team; and then throwing David Ash at Kansas State fresh off a concussion, his career now ruined.
The CEO’s bottom line is no longer acceptable. Bryan Harsin barely got his feet wet and then bolted; Brown couldn’t control Will Muschamp; Manny Diaz was a bold but poor hire that should have been over with in 2012. Diaz is the charismatic, blitz-happy coach with a scheme fully dependent on elite linebackers (like Sam Acho in 2011) to captain and call out the proper stunts, twists, and pre-snap reads. Without stud LBs, it just can’t be efficient. But Diaz was kept in place as a fall guy, just like Greg Davis was in 2010. A weak, calculated move of self-preservation.
And that’s the kicker, Mack is a politician. His wife gave money to Barack Obama and might be a Democrat. But he’s become a Texas legend by rubbing elbows with Republican millionaires because he is the most silver-tongued coach in college football history. He stacked the board of regents with allies. He was planning on retiring on his own, on top, and then settling into an emeritus adviser role. I bet he only wanted two more years or so. He’s nine wins from Darrell Royal’s all-time school record.
It’s a legitimate bummer that the exit got bitter ’round these parts. But there’s no happy way to die.
Friday evening, the disappointing 2013 team will gather and toast Coach Brown. Some Twitter rumors maintain that it’ll be a tearful goodbye ceremony marked by past legends popping in to share anecdotes. To honor my favorite sports coach of all time, I got weepy and worked on a meticulous video montage. It’s high school prom slideshow status, with directorial nods to America’s corporate conference circuit.
Mack Brown: “Pieces of You”