Mack Brown, the 16-year tenured Texas Longhorns head coach, resigned this past week. His players are “shocked.” I was surprised. Ultimately, though, the only people who really wanted this are Texas boosters, and boy, how they will rue this move.
Mack Brown, for my generation, was not the Texas Longhorn head coach; he was Texas football. When they won the National Title in 2005 that was Mack Brown. When they had a glory win that was Mack Brown. When they struggled, that was Mack Brown. Sound familiar? The same could have been said of Joe Paterno at Penn State, or Bobby Bowden at Florida State.
However, whereas Penn State landed on their feet with Bill O’Brien, who they’re giving a long leash due to the NCAA sanctions, and FSU has thrived of late under Jimbo Fisher, where can Texas go? Mack Brown was his own brand, and that brand made the Texas brand that much higher. The value he brought to Texas transcended wins, largely because it helped make Texas college sports’ most valuable program, literally.
Maybe he voluntarily resigned because of the mounting pressure he was facing. Maybe he’d just had it with boosters and administrators. Maybe he’d actually just had enough of coaching. We will get a better idea of which one it was based on his role in Texas athletics in the future, and I mean real role, not the “special advisor” role they gave him.
I think it was boosters though. Guys who have no real knowledge of the ins and outs of college football, or what it takes to win, or especially what a good, and tenured, coach brings to a program. I think they were the ones, not Texas officials, who were trying to lure Nick Saban, and who really wanted Mack Brown out, without giving a thought to the consequences if the former didn’t happen and the latter did. Well, congratulations, you got half your wish.
The boosters have effectively screwed over the program they love. Mack Brown cannot be replaced, and the only candidates who are fit to succeed him have no reason to be interested; that’s the quandary Texas faces, but I won’t go into that. What I will go into is that Bill Powers should have had a better grasp on the situation, long before the Board of Regents met, and long before the football season was over.
I suppose that Mack Brown felt compelled to do right by Texas, and more power to him for doing so. He leaves in a classy manner, and in an ironic twist, he also leaves them in a horrific situation as they move forward looking for a successor.