After the abysmal start to this football season for the University of Texas many UT fans are calling for Mack Brown's head. This isn't a new development as many were already ready to move on to the next era of UT football last year. However, now that it's clear that the Longhorns are not "back" like many hoped and predicted, the caterwauling for his removal has returned with a fury, especially amongst the under 35 years old crowd.
In the past I have been quick to defend Mack because I remember well the state of the football program before he arrived. While there was some minor success under John Mackovic, his biggest accomplishment was recruiting Ricky Williams. However, once Mack took over things began to get much better.....rather quickly.
The Horns rattled off 12 straight 9+ win seasons. Finished in the top 25 every one of those years and in the top 10 six times, and in the top 5 five times. That's the kind of run that any program in the country would trade for. It's what made UT the most profitable and unique program in the country. And let's not forget to continue to bask in what is probably the greatest moment of the greatest game in college football history.
But by 2010 that came to an end when the wheels fell off. Pride comes before the fall, and that is exactly what happened to the University of Texas. Mack and his team of coaches lost their edge and thought they could win games just by "being Texas". The demise is well chronicled in this article. The key paragraphs from that article that summarize the entire problem:
Brown even has admitted he felt Texas was relatively bulletproof.
One person with close ties to the coaching staff said: "Mack was the king of entitlement."
That point bore home in particular during the week of the Iowa State game. Leading up to the home game against a Cyclones team that had never beaten Texas, Brown told his players behind closed doors that they all knew they were going to win the game. That was a given.
"Oklahoma just beat these guys 52-0," Brown told them, according to a source who heard the lines. "We have to match that. We have to make a statement."
Instead, Texas managed only a field goal in the opening half and was held in check in a 28-21 loss that reverberated around the nation. Muschamp blew up at Davis for questioning his defense afterward. A week after a supposedly statement-making road win over Nebraska, the Longhorns had dropped two straight at Royal-Memorial for the first time since John Mackovic's final, desultory season in 1997.
That loss to lowly Iowa State was the introduction to Mack's first losing season (5-7), an embarrassment after having played for the National Championship the year before. So there was an off year. Mack owned up to it, and committed to rebuild the program. He had very clearly earned the opportunity to prove that he could do that, so I believed him.
In 2011 the Horns improved to 8-5, not nearly up to Mack Brown standards, but a step in the right direction. 2012, another step, 9-4. Once again, not acceptable in the minds of UT fans who were used to being in the conversation for a national title every year, but decent progress punctuated by a bowl win.
That brings us to 2013 and the last 2 weeks. Against both BYU and Ole Miss the Horns looked clearly outmatched in nearly every facet of the game. Most blatantly the run defense. They were so bad they fired the defensive coordinator after giving up 550 rushing yards to BYU, a school record for everyone involved. Was it a fluke? Last night's game against Ole Miss revealed that no, it was most definitely not a fluke. The Rebels ran for 275 yards, which isn't 550 but still is terrible.
The offense looked clueless at times and the Horns continue to make bad decisions and commit worse penalties regularly on offense, defense and special teams. It points to one glaring thing that every commentator points out (even the ESPN guys who are in bed financially with the University) - the Longhorns have way too much talent to be this bad. If you have way too much talent to be this bad, then guess what, it's time for a coaching change. While I will always love Mack Brown and appreciate his returning Texas glory, it is time for him to ride off into the sunset. The question is will he? Let's hope so, for his sake and ours. It's been a great run and it's time for him to let it go.
If he does retire, or get fired (unlikely), who will Texas hire to replace him? That's for another day when we cover the phrase "What good is it to gain the whole world, yet forfeit your soul?"