One of the big stories in the sports cosmos last week was the potentially imminent demise of Mack Brown as the head football coach at Texas. To some degree, the volume on that story has been toned down by Texas’ win last weekend over Kansas State. Nonetheless, the prevalence of commentary and the vehemence of opinion on the story needs a bit of analysis. I am stepping into unfamiliar territory here; I am going to advocate reflection and not retaliation.
Nothing I say here is personal; I do not know Mack Brown; I have never met him. I “knew” him as the coach at UNC in the 90s who made UNC into a team that went to a bowl game every year and that string of success got him the job at Texas when they went looking for a coach. Texas football was not what Texas fans/boosters expected back in 1998 when Mack Brown arrived. David McWilliams and John Macovic had presided over the program for 11 seasons and the cumulative record was a very unTexas-like 72-54-2. Even worse, there were only 3 conference championships in that 11-year span. There was agita in Austin…
Enter Mack Brown… He is in the middle of his 16th season at Texas; he has won 77% of his regular season games; his teams have been to 14 bowl games; he has won 3 conference championships plus he won the National Championship in 2005. In 2009, he had Texas in the BCS National Championship Game where Texas suffered their only loss of the year to finish with a 13-1 record. Bottom Line:
Mack Brown has been successful at Texas – certainly the most successful coach there since Darrell Royal retired in 1976.
His detractors say that he has lost his edge and that maybe time has passed him by and that he missed out on some great in-state quarterbacks who went on to do really good things at other schools such as Andrew Luck, RG3 and Johnny Manziel. Indeed Brown is 62 years old . There may be a germ of truth in what his detractors say, but I would offer a cautionary note here.
The folks who want Mack Brown’s head on a platter might want to take a glance to the north east and look at what happened when alums/fanboys of another school with the initials “UT” became highly disenchanted with their long-term and successful coach at age 58 and rose up to drive him out of town. That would be the University of Tennessee and coach, Phil Fulmer. Let me review the bidding there…
Fulmer coached Tennessee for 17 years.
In that time, Tennessee won 74% of his games.
Tennessee won its only National Championship; Tennessee went to bowl games in 15 of those years and 1998 was the team’s only losing season at 5-7.
Nonetheless, in 2008, Phil Fulmer got run out of town in Knoxville.
Since that time, Tennessee has had 3 head coaches in 4 seasons:
Derek Dooley (Jim Chaney coached 1 game in 2012)
Butch Jones (started this season)
Until Jones’ tenure beginning this season, Tennessee’s record since Fulmer’s departure was 23-27. Maybe Butch Jones will turn out to be a great coach and will lead Tennessee back to the stature it enjoyed during the times of Phil Fulmer, Johnny Majors and Doug Dickey (all of whom are in the College Football Hall of Fame by the way). However, unless he does that, the question for Tennessee fans/boosters has to be:
So, how’s that working out for you?
As I said, perhaps Mack Brown has lost his edge and perhaps it is time for him to ride off into the sunset. However, if I were a Texas alum/fanboy, I would take a step back and think about any “movement” or “uprising” that would run him out of town just because this year’s team seems to have given up tackling for Lent – and does not realize that Lent has been over for about 6 months.
There was a sidebar to the cries for Mack Brown to step aside last week. Rumor had it that folks from Texas had talked to Nick Saban’s agent prior to this year wondering if Saban could be enticed to leave Alabama and come to Texas. Understand that Saban and Brown are virtually the same age (Saban is 2 months younger than Brown) but there does not seem to be any concern that Saban might have lost his edge or that the game has passed him by.
If at the end of the 2013 season, Saban says he would be thrilled to move to Austin and take over the Texas program, then the UT alums/fanboys can rise up and make it happen; Saban is someone you can always find a way to make room for. However, if Saban or someone of comparable stature is unavailable at the end of the 2013 season, the Texas alums/fanboys ought to think with their brains and not with their glands regarding the need to get a new coach. The names Lane Kiffin and Derek Dooley need to swirl around in their heads for a few moments before their adrenal glands kick in.
Enough about Mack Brown… Regarding the multiple sewage backups at O.co Coliseum where the A’s and Raiders play home games, here is a Tweet from Bud Geracie who used to write the “Wake of the Week” column in the San José Mercury News:
“New tradition taking hold at #A’s ballpark: The seventh-inning stench.”
Finally, Greg Cote asked this rhetorical question in the Miami Herald last weekend:
“On eBay you can buy authenticated Jim Palmer-signed underwear that he modeled for Jockey in the ‘70s. Is there a worse job in America than being in charge of “authenticating” 40-year-old underwear?”
Perhaps cleaning up the locker rooms at O.co Coliseum might qualify…
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports……..