October 11, 2013

Is Mack Brown going to retire? Should he? Is he out of the AD running?

Update, Oct 11: The assumption around Longhorn Land has always been that, when DeLoss Dodds stepped down as athletic director, Mack Brown would move up to take his place. And might be encouraged to do so.

Well, if UT is hiring an outside search firm to look for Dodds' replacement, that might not be so true.

Of course, spending the money on the search firm, and possibly having to buy Mack out if he won't retire and they won't name him AD, while cutting 500 jobs, shows the ridiculousness of the power of college football.

Meanwhile, the original post:

According to Greg Couch, and I know others, the rumors, and speculation, are swirling that Texas Longhorns football coach Mack Brown is getting ready to announce his pending retirement. Indeed, Yardbarker puts him at No. 1 on its Division 1-A coaching hot seat.

Couch says, as part of diagnosing why the Horns are currently 1-2 (and likely headed to a losing season, though he doesn't say that) asks "what happened to the recruiting"?

Well, other than taking a pass on Johnny Football, has he recruited that badly? Absolutely not, according to the likes of Dennis Dodd.

Rather, as I told a good sports friend of mine, isn't he the football version of Horns hoops coach Rick Barnes? Great recruiter, not so great on X's and O's all the time? True, Brown did win it all with Vince Young, whereas Barnes couldn't pull that off with even Kevin Durant, but that's another story. The general analogy seems to stand.

Canning Manny Diaz as d-coordinator for Greg Robinson, who hadn't been a standout himself in his earlier run in Austin, did seem a bit panicky.

Here's two reasons who Brown should announce his resignation, and before the Red River Shootout.

1. You're fixing to get your ass kicked by Oklahoma, again.

2. You're looking at a losing season.

The way I see it, Brown announcing his resignation is the only way for the Horns to gin up enough spirit to at least get close to the Sooners, setting aside the idea of a win, and to do well enough otherwise in the Big XII to go 6-6 overall and claim a bowl bid as a farewell to Mack?

Let's take a look at the rest of the Horns' season otherwise.

First, the K-State game is a reality check. After losing by 20 at home to Ole Miss, this is a must-win. But, I'm not sure they will, especially without that Mack retirement announcement. K-State isn't fantastic this year, but home advantage may be the only differentiation in this game, if that's enough of a bump. (Right now, the Horns are a 5-point favorite.) As a reality check, a loss that doesn't get much into double digits, like no more than 10-12 points, a minimum. Lose by more than that, and we know you're bad.

Let's take a look at the remaining schedule.

Overall in the conference, I'd rank them behind every team but Iowa State and Kansas. Arguably, home advantage should be enough to beat K-State. If it is good enough for that, and for beating Tech, that would give them a 4-5 conference mark and 5-7 overall. If they can only beat one of those two at home plus Kansas, and lose all road games except Iowa State, plus the neutral Shootout, that's 3-6 and 4-8.

So, yeah, that's why the K-State game is a check-down on where the team's at. Plus a momentum game. Yeah, momentum is overrated. But not totally or always. (And, Mack crossed this hurdle, just above where most oddsmakers placed the point spread. So, a victory of sorts, over a K-State team playing on the road and possibly not as good as last year. He's likely still on track for 5-7, though, unless the Horns are better than the Red Raiders, or pull an even bigger upset somewhere else.)

As for his record? A 5-7 mark would tie for his worst ever at Texas. The 2010 campaign was the only time he's won less than 8 games.

If those two reasons to retire aren't enough, here's a third: DeLoss Dodds.

He can deny the rumors all he wants, but I believe he's retiring by or before the end of the current school year. (If he isn't,  he'd better hope Barnes has better rabbits in his hat than Mack does, lest he be forced out himself.)

And, so, if you announce your retirement before Dodds steps down, you get to leave gracefully, on your terms. And, you get to do Dodds a solid of having more time to look for your replacement, and look for your replacement himself. He might even name you as HIS replacement, in turn.

Obviously, we're late enough in the week that Mack isn't making an announcement before the K-State game. But, he's got a bye week before Iowa State, which would give him time to reflect before the Shootout. Or, if he takes a whiff on making an announcement then, he has another bye the week after Oklahoma, before TCU. Assuming the Shootout scenario plays out as I expect, or worse, and if Texas has also lost to K-State, then Mack's an idiot if he doesn't make an announcement, because more upset alumni will be howling for his scalp at that point.

===

Meanwhile, who would replace him? Gary Patterson at TCU doesn't seem a likely move, especially if Mack jumps up to the AD's chair.

Well, a year ago, one UT regent had a desire, a hankering ...

For Nick Saban.

If you breathe burnt orange, though, don't hold your breath:
"Nothing went on that I know of. I haven't talked to anybody about that situation," Saban said Thursday on his weekly radio show. "... Quite frankly, I'm just too damn old to start all over some place else."
Really? C'mon, now. On the other hand, he IS the same age as Mack, so there is an element of reality.

And that all said, he's ensconced at Bama like Bear Bryant's long-lost son. Barring some huge scandal, he ain't moving. And, no, the recent player-cum-fixer reports aren't enough to do that.

But it is interesting to note the mindset at Austin of someone who, theoretically, is an indirect ultimate boss of Brown — and of Dodds, for that matter.

As part of that story:
Under contract until 2020 and being paid $5.4 million this year ... Brown has said he plans to coach through his contract.
I didn't realize that Brown's current contract is through 2020 and that he still says he's going to coach through it. If he's not 100 percent serious, that means he wants the Horns to "Take care of him" in some way if he announces his retirement.

Meanwhile, the story gets more fun, speaking of Mack possibly wanting the Horns to "take care of him":
Joe Jamail, a billionaire trial lawyer who is one of the top donors to Texas, is Brown's attorney. When asked about the conference call with (Saban's agent Jimmy) Sexton and the lunch meeting, Jamail suggested ( Regent Wallace) Hall was acting on his own and threatened to sue anyone outside the university if they try to pressure Brown to resign.
There's backstory to Hall, too:
Hall is under an impeachment investigation by the state House of Representatives, and lawmakers have complained that Hall has tried to force out university president Bill Powers, who has been a strong advocate for Brown. Steve Hicks has been among the regents backing Powers in a public spat that has embroiled the board members and state lawmakers for more than a year.
So, any move to dump Mack has all sorts of state politics tied to it, as former Aggie cheerleader Tricky Ricky Perry giggles in a corner.

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