Anyone saying Mack Brown needs to win out to keep his job hasn’t paid attention to one of the most enduring friendships in sports.
University of Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds will continue to offer Brown safe harbor as long as he remains in office. Dodds spent part of last week denying a report on Orangebloods.com that he would be stepping down at the end of this school year. He took to the Longhorn Network, now seen at least five Texas counties, to address his and Brown’s futures.
The 74-year-old Dodds proclaimed that Brown was “the kind of person we need in college football.” Dodds remains in a state of denial. The Associated Press reported Thursday that a UT regent and a former regent made contact with Nick Saban’s agent last January to gauge the coach’s interest in coaching the Longhorns. The former regent was none other than former Rangers and Stars owner Tom Hicks.
Hicks informed Brown of the meeting two days later and asked him whether he was ready to retire. Brown told him he wanted to continue leading the Longhorns. The UT regents say they didn’t authorize the meeting with Saban’s agent, but that doesn’t make Brown feel any better.
One of the main reasons Dodds and Brown could soon be shown the door is the remarkable success Texas A&M has had transitioning into the SEC. Brown’s program has continued to struggle while Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel has become the face of college football.
Before Saturday’s 44-23 loss to Ole Miss, I would’ve argued that a win over the Sooners this season would go a long way in buying Brown another season. Now, the idea of Texas somehow knocking off the Sooners seems far-fetched.
We already knew Sooners quarterback Blake Bell could run over defenders, but last Saturday he showed he could also overwhelm a team with his arm. I know the Tulsa defense didn’t offer much resistance, but it was impressive to see how accurate Bell was on intermediate and deep routes. It made you wonder how Bob Stoops arrived at the decision to name Trevor Knight the starter before the season.
Brown has become a national laughingstock because he’s failing with top-five rated recruiting classes. And he keeps making the mistake of telling everyone a return to greatness is just around the corner. His best hope is to put the season in the hands of freshman quarterback Tyrone Swoopes and sophomore running back Jonathan Gray. If you’re going to lose games, you should at least provide some hope for the future. David Ash is a competent quarterback who’s had his moments, but there’s nothing special about his game. How can you watch these opposing quarterbacks run all over you and not wonder what an athletic quarterback like Swoopes could do?
The most likely scenario is Brown and Dodds riding into the sunset together after this season. The men’s football, basketball and baseball programs have become stale. Dodds has done a tremendous job bringing in money, but it’s time for him to step aside. And as some have speculated, current Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby would have to be prime candidate to replace Dodds.
Bowlsby is a powerful voice in college athletics who loved serving as Stanford’s athletic director for six years. I get the feeling that he misses being on a campus. The opportunity to lead a program with the unlimited resources of Texas would be hard for him to pass up.
And the man he hired to replace Jim Harbaugh at Stanford, David Shaw, would be a prime candidate to succeed Brown.
I had hoped that a class act like Brown would be able to leave on his own terms someday. But three games into the 2013 season, that’s looking like a longshot.