Two days after another whipping at the hands of rival Oklahoma, Texas coach Mack Brown dismissed any suggestions he may be ready to retire, saying he’s still got energy and the backing of the school and its big boosters.
Brown said Monday that several prominent boosters told him keep his head up and keep fighting after the 63-21 blowout, the third time in Brown’s tenure the Sooners have hung more than 60 points on the Longhorns.
Texas’ second consecutive loss dropped the Longhorns (4-2, 0-2 Big 12) to 17-14 overall under Brown since 2010, and raised new speculation that the 61-year-old who led Texas to the 2005 national championship may consider retiring.
Brown is under contract under 2020. At more than $5 million per year, he is one of the highest-paid coaches in the country.
”I have my energy. I’m moving forward,” Brown said. ”I know I’ve got time to fix it and I know I can.”
Brown would not say which boosters reached out to him, but added that he heard the same positive message from many former Texas players.
”I’m way too competitive and (have) way too much pride to leave something bad,” Brown said, adding he still thinks Texas can win 10 games this season
Brown has heard rumblings about his job before but nothing truly serious. From 2000-2004, his teams lost five in a row to Oklahoma, but those teams still won at least nine games every year. Texas ended the losing streak the season the Longhorns won the national title and the dissension melted away.
The strongest speculation about his possible retirement came in 2009-2010.
Texas had a coach-in-waiting in defensive coordinator Will Muschamp in 2009, the season Texas lost in the BCS title game. Some thought had Texas won that game, Brown would retire with his second championship.
Texas fell hard to 5-7 the following season and Muschamp bolted for the head coaching job at Florida. Brown said he met with school President Bill Powers and athletic director DeLoss Dodds after that season.
”When I decided to come back, I told them it was going to take some time,” Brown said. ”We sat down and had hard discussions. They were 100 percent in their support. They said, `We want you to stay and we’ll give you the time and money to do it.’ That’s not an issue.”
Brown said he doesn’t face the constant pressure coaches do at other schools.
”I’ve got great bosses. This job isn’t like the others,” Brown said. ”I’m the luckiest guy in the world.”
Texas gave Brown his initial $5 million-per year deal in December 2009 after a 12-0 regular season but before the BCS game loss. The contract was extended it four years in January 2012 after Texas rebounded from the losing season to go 8-5 in 2011.
After Saturday’s loss to Oklahoma, when the television cameras often caught Brown looking frustrated on the sideline, the coach clearly expected his team to hear speculation about his future. He told his players he wasn’t going anywhere.
”He told us he wasn’t going to quit and didn’t want to see any quit in us, either,” offensive lineman Mason Walters said.
Brown also had a message on Monday for his top assistant coaches, offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin and defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, whose unit is on pace to be statistically the worst in school history. The Longhorns surrendered nearly 700 yards against Oklahoma and have given up at least 31 points in four consecutive games.
”At this school you will be really criticized for not doing well in a ball game. You take it and man up to it it’s the reason you get paid a lot. It’s part of the deal here,” Brown said. ”You guys want to be head coaches, learn now, because you are going to get some questions later.”
Brown got a bit of good news after the loss when quarterback David Ash was cleared to return to practice despite an injured wrist on his left, non-throwing arm.
Ash left the game in the fourth quarter after taking a hit and team doctors initially worried the arm was broken because of the severe swelling. X-rays showed no fractures and Ash was taking snaps from center on Sunday.
Ash said Monday he’ll play this week against Baylor (3-2, 0-2).
Any criticism of Brown and speculation about his job should ”stop,” Ash said.
”He’s a winner. He’s a competitor. He wants to stay positive,” Ash said.