The best victory dance, the best I-told-you-so, frankly the best screw-you, is actually when you don’t do it or say it at all. Mack Brown has been coaching Texas all season while Texas’ own power brokers have made things miserable around him, leaking bits of information to make their plans clear:
Brown is out.
Well, try to fire him now: Texas 36, Oklahoma 20. The Longhorns are in first place and undefeated in the Big 12.
And this is the spot in the column where I should be putting Brown’s most inflammatory defensive comment. But there wasn’t one.
Unless you count this: “The one thing the outside can’t predict is the will and determination of young people,’’ he said. “I told them in there, when they all decide when something is important to them — and this was really important to them today — and they all decide to do whatever they can to make this team win, this is a really good football team.’’
“Proud of our guys.’’
You know, there is a feeling out there that Brown, now 62, is out of touch with modern times. Did you know the guy actually hand-writes letters back to people?
That applies here, too. Modern times call for some big-time bravado.
Some screaming. Something along the lines of Bo Pelini’s postgame rant against his own fans for not believing. (That was overblown, really.)
But Brown is becoming maybe the best story in college football simply by coaching his team to victories. After starting 1-2, the Longhorns went into the Big 12 part of the schedule by looking shaky, but beating Kansas State. Then, they beat Iowa State on some lucky bad officiating.
At that point, his story was sort of funny, like a guy dancing between raindrops to keep his job.
But there was nothing fluky this time. For the first time this year, Texas looked like a powerhouse. Its next three games are against lowly TCU, Kansas and West Virginia. After that, the Longhorns will be 7-2 overall, 5-0 in the Big 12.
It’s possible that Texas has missed its chance to dump Brown.
He fired his defensive coordinator earlier this season and replaced him with Greg Robinson, and now the defense is getting familiar with him. It showed Saturday. Meanwhile, the Longhorns were pounding Oklahoma on offense.
On top of that, with quarterback David Ash out with a concussion, Texas has been stuck with what has looked like a legacy, charity case in Case McCoy, brother of former Texas star Colt McCoy.
Not Saturday. Case was a leader who might have just had a legacy moment. He also might have just saved Brown, who was definitely going to be fired with a loss.
“Coach Brown’s fine,’’ McCoy said. “You talk about a legacy? Coach Brown is a legend.’’
Brown built this program up to one that won the national championship and got its own TV network. So it’s not as simple to fire him as it was, say, for USC to fire Lane Kiffin. At USC, they pulled Kiffin off the team bus to fire him after a game, then left him there while the bus left.
That sort of disrespect for a coach isn’t going to work with Brown, if they can still get him out at all.
The untold story Saturday might be what a rough loss this was for Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops. It was only a few years ago that Stoops was the hottest coach in the country.
The Sooners were undefeated going into Saturday’s game, but the truth is that Oklahoma just isn’t the dominant Big 12 team anymore, much less a national contender.
But this was Brown’s moment. And maybe McCoy’s, too. Texas was dominant from the start, with McCoy looking confident and OU quarterback Blake Bell looking confused.
In the first quarter, Bell threw an interception right to Texas’ 300-pound defensive tackle Chris Whaley, who ran 30 yards for the touchdown, running over Bell at the goal line.
Whaley said he was too tired to try to make a cut to get around him.
He also told me that after the play, he was given an IV.
From there, Texas just kept pulling away.
Now, a few players and co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite said they really hadn’t paid attention to the talk of Brown’s job security. In other words, they lied.
But the interesting thing is that Applewhite seemed to think it was just talk from the media. The truth is that when reports surface that Texas’ power brokers talked with the agent of Nick Saban about Brown’s job, that wasn’t actually the media talking.
That was talk from the inside.
It was the power boys leaking information to the media to try to get Brown to leave. Texas’ longtime athletic director, DeLoss Dodds, Brown’s biggest (only?) supporter, is retiring. And former Texas great Earl Campbell said that Brown needs to go.
That wasn’t the media talking.
When the game was over, Brown, who had lost the last two games to Oklahoma 55-17 and 63-21, went to get the traditional Golden Hat, which goes to the winner. But he said it had been so long since he beat Oklahoma that he couldn’t remember exactly what to do.
That was his version of gloating, I guess.
To be clear, Brown is not safe yet. It probably is going to take a Big 12 title and major bowl game to keep his job. That would require winning at Baylor in the final game. I wouldn’t predict a win there.
But what if Brown does win out? What will he say to the power boys?
He’ll probably be as nasty and cutting as he can: Just ignore the noise and say he’s proud of his players.