It’s time for Mack Brown to go after Texas’ loss to Baylor
WACO, Texas – Moments after Baylor and Texas ran onto the frozen field at Floyd Casey Stadium on Saturday, the public address announcer dramatically provided the final score from Stillwater: Oklahoma 33, Oklahoma State 24. Players on both sidelines began to sway and dance because their game had just become a winner-take-all affair in the Big 12. I guess you could say Bedlam moved south about 300 miles or so.
Two representatives from the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl who may have borrowed jackets from the Pro Football Hall of Fame strolled around the press box with big grins. These men had come to the right place. But for one half, neither team could get the upper hand. The Longhorns and Bears combined for three missed field goals and retreated to their respective locker rooms knotted at three.
I stepped into a crowded elevator at halftime and found myself shoulder to shoulder with one of the most powerful men in the history of college athletics, DeLoss Dodds. When a Baylor fan asked him if Mack Brown was safe, Dodds deadpanned, “I’m not the AD anymore.”
But perhaps Brown could’ve made things interesting for new athletic director Steve Patterson had the Longhorns found a way to win Saturday. Instead, they got buried as the Bears scored 17 points on their first three possessions of the second half. An offense that had stalled in Stillwater two weeks ago found its rhythm and was able to overwhelm the Longhorns’ defense. Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, who announced last week that he would return for his senior season, started to connect with his wide receivers despite taking a pretty nasty hit on a quarterback keeper. The second half served as a reminder of why something has to change in Austin.
Baylor has won three of the past four games against the Horns, and Art Briles is now considered one of the best coaches in the country. History will be good to Brown, but the historians will need a few years to let the stench of the past four seasons dissipate. I think Mack did a really nice coaching job this season, but it’s time for a change. Dodds probably would’ve given him another year (or four), but Patterson was hired to change the current course of this athletic department. It’s now a given that Art Briles is a better coach than Brown at this point in their careers. But what’s even more troubling is that Briles has found a way to recruit better players than the Longhorns. Texas became so enamored with its top-ranked recruiting classes that it forgot to actually evaluate the talent. The Horns were behind the curve when it came to hiring staffers to solely serve as talent scouts. And while quarterback Case McCoy had his moments this season, his shortcomings were on full display Saturday. He simply doesn’t have the accuracy to allow the Longhorns to sustain drives.
And speaking of sustaining drives, what does Texas have against Malcolm Brown busting through the middle of the line for big gains? Just when it looked like the Horns would be able to gash Baylor with two pretty talented backs, they would try some sort of misdirection play with the fleet but slight Daje Johnson. It’s further evidence this offense is still searching for an identity under Major Applewhite.
Baylor now has a program that should continue to compete for conference titles. The ultimate goal of winning a national title ended in Stillwater, but you feel like Briles could have another go at it as soon as next season. He has a new contract at Baylor that will see him to age 68. Texas would be wise to pursue Briles, but at this point he’s eager to open a new stadium on campus. He’s on the verge of turning Baylor into a national power. At Texas, he would have another rebuilding job on his hands.
Briles joined six other Baylor football luminaries in turning off six light towers at Floyd Casey Stadium about 30 minutes after Saturday’s game. But before he did that, he stood on a podium and accepted the Big 12 Championship trophy from commissioner Bob Bowlsby. The normally understated Briles played to the weather-weary crowd.
“This is a defining moment for Baylor University and Baylor football,” he said.
It was also a defining moment for the future of Texas football. Brown should have a statue on the UT campus. But his time as head football coach at the school has passed.
This may not be a graceful exit. But the time has arrived.
Mack should grab one of these consultant jobs before they’re all gone.