Texas' win over Oklahoma should silence Brown critics... for now
OCT 12, 2013 5:47p ET
The 36-20 beatdown his Longhorns delivered Oklahoma in Saturday's Red River Rivalry is vindication enough. Soaked head to toe from a celebratory ice water shower on the sidelines, Brown told a TV camera on the field all the win did was get his team to 3-0. He reiterated that stance on the podium in between a handful of wise cracks in a room full of reporters.
After all that was over, Brown got honest about what a win meant after a 1-2 start and mounting discussion about whether his 16th matchup against Oklahoma at the State Fair of Texas would be his last.
The only thing rarer than a brave soul who picked Texas to pull an upset as a two-touchdown underdog was an Oklahoma fan in the stands as the final seconds ticked away at the Cotton Bowl. To borrow a phrase, in the mecca of fried foods, crow was the only entree Brown and the Longhorns had interest in handing out after a brief dip in hot oil.
Anyone who watched on Saturday would be welcome to a serving, but Brown had no interest in shoving the dish in front of anyone's faces after it was over.
"I'm past that," Brown said. "You know, when you win, they shut up. And that's kind of fun. But it's not what I want to win for. I don't care. I really don't. I just want to win."
That's not Brown's style, anyway.
He enjoyed a parade of hugs (including one from Texas president Bill Powers and) on the way to a joyous rendition of "The Eyes of Texas," and walked off the field with little fanfare. He put his arm around his wife, Sally and flashed a Hook 'Em Horns hand sign to a group of fans before leaving the stadium bowl beneath the shade of the tunnel.
Brown knows the feeling of leaving Dallas embarrassed, frustrated and angry. Until Saturday, he hadn't known the feeling of coaching with unemployment (until TV networks blow up his phone minutes later) hanging over his head.
"I couldn't do it 10 years ago. I'm older. It really doesn't matter. I don't have anything to prove," Brown said. "I'm just trying to win."
Does Saturday's win mean Brown's job is safe? Likely not. Anything other than six more Big 12 victories and a BCS bowl win to give Texas a satisfactory 11-2 season will likely make the conversation Brown's return in 2014 a short one. The impending departure of Brown's boss, athletic director DeLoss Dodds, before the 2014 season makes the odds even longer.
Saturday, though? That was one for the scrapbook. It was the culmination of three years trying to piece together a dominant offensive line to clear the way for a power running game.
The Longhorns bruised the Sooners with 255 rushing yards, including a pair of 120-yard days from Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown, who were both the nation's No. 1 running backs in their respective recruiting classes in 2011 and 2012.
"Three years ago. Three years ago," Brown said with an exasperated sigh. "That's what I want. That's what I want to see, and we did that. We did it at Kansas State and got away from it at Iowa State. Part of that is my fault, because they had a young freshman corner come in and I said go get him."
This year, it was the Texas fans who stayed, filled the stadium and celebrated. It was Texas who made the game-breaking special teams plays and scored a defensive touchdown to grasp control early.
That had been Oklahoma's duty in the past two meetings, but Brown was quick to remind that Texas has now won five of nine games against the Sooners here.
Former running back turned 295-pound defensive tackle picked off Blake Bell and returned it 31 yards for a touchdown to put Texas up 10-3 and give it a lead it never gave back.
"As he ran it back, had it high and tight and dove in the end zone. We said if it'd been 40 yards away instead of 30, he wouldn't have made it," Brown said.
Entering Saturday, it almost seemed like Texas was bracing for impact. Even the Texas band's halftime medley of Les Misérables tunes made you wonder if there was anyone in burnt orange who thought the Longhorns could avoid a third consecutive beatdown. Brown insisted after the game he thought Texas would win and knew his team would play well.
"We've got a chance to win the Big 12 and go to the BCS. We really do. We're not in the grave. We're crawling out," Brown said. "We're actually alive and have a chance here at 4-2."
In a media-saturated world, it's a near-impossibility to avoid coming to Dallas without hearing some discussion about why Texas needs a new boss, when it'll be official and who it'll be. Plenty of Texas players denied it, but offensive coordinator Major Applewhite struck a more honest tone.
"Some people had us fried, died and laid at the side," he said. "Some of that stuff will filter through and you'll hear about it, but you'll realize that's just football. Those type of people are going to be those kind of people. To hell with 'em and continue to focus on the team."
Granted, Applewhite could only smile when asked if there's a level of satisfaction in shutting up that talk, if only for awhile.
"Hell yeah," he said. "You're not going to be vindictive and go find every single person that's wrote something bad about you, because like I said, their inconsequential. They don't matter. It's just what they do. Let them do their jobs. We'll do ours."
Brown challenged a question about a supposed display after the game that was more "emotional" than most games.
"I didn't think I was very emotional at all," Brown said.
He wasn't. He didn't shed a tear. He didn't let out a triumphant scream. He simply called his players over for a traditional fight song, accepted the Golden Hat Trophy ("Which I hadn't done in awhile, so I needed somebody to tell me what to do," Brown joked), and handed it to his seniors before leaving the mass of burnt orange jerseys and yelling for his wife, Sally, to join him.
"I think you all wanted me to be emotional. I had 97 cameras in my face. I couldn't see the band," Brown said. "I like winning football games. That's my job."
That won't change until somebody tells him it's not his job anymore.