For a decade, Mack Brown and the Texas Longhorns won more games than almost any other program in the country.
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It was the inability to meet those lofty expectations over the last four years that pushed Brown to resign after 16 years, ending an era that included the national championship following the 2005 season.
”The standard is really high here,” Brown said Sunday at a campus news conference to explain his decision. ”We set a standard at this place. You’d better win all of them. I understand that. … The standard is really high here and I’m proud of being part of setting that standard.”
From 2000-09, Brown’s teams averaged more than 10 wins a season, captured two Big 12 titles, won a national title and played for another. But the program dipped sharply to 5-7 in 2010, Brown’s only losing season, and the Longhorns have lost at least four games for four consecutive years.
Brown said he knew that wasn’t good enough. It was time to find a new coach to guide the Longhorns back among the national elite and heal a fractured fan base that had grown impatient. His final game will be the Dec. 30 Alamo Bowl against Oregon.
Brown was under contract until 2020 with a salary at more than $5 million per year. He will stay on as a special consultant to President Bill Powers, a role that his current contract stipulates would pay him up to $500,000. Details of any further compensation for Brown were not immediately available.
Texas had expected a return to championship form this season, but a 1-2 start ignited months of speculation that Brown would retire or be forced out. Texas rallied with six straight wins, then dropped two of its last three games. A chance to win the Big 12 title was lost to Baylor in the finale.
Brown met with Powers and athletic director Steve Patterson on Friday to discuss his future. Brown said both told him he could stay, but after sleeping on it Friday night and talking it over with his wife, he decided it was the right time to resign.
”I felt like I could stay,” Brown said. ”I really felt like it wasn’t best for the university to stay.”
Powers said he was not pressured by the school’s board of regents to help push Brown out of the job.
”I was not given any direction at all from any regent,” Powers said. ”This is the transition of one of the great football coaches in the country.”
Brown said he hoped he would be remembered for ”bringing joy to Texas” and doing it with integrity. Asked if he had any regrets, Brown said the only ones were the death of player Cole Pittman in 2001 and the 1999 accident with the Texas A&M bonfire that killed 12.
The search to replace Brown begins almost immediately, but Powers and Patterson gave few hints as to who may be on a list of potential candidates. Patterson, barely a month on the job after being hired from Arizona State, must find a coach who can handle the pressure of being the face of the wealthiest athletic program in the country.
”And you’ve got to win. You’ve got to win big,” Patterson said. ”We’ll find the best football coach we can.”
Patterson gave no timeline for a hiring a coach and said he’d meet with Powers to establish the criteria for the job search. Powers insisted Patterson would be in charge of the search and ”will hire the next coach.”