Mack Brown holds the keys to an empire. He’s the most powerful figure on a campus 50,000 strong, pulls in more money than any state-compensated employee and could be the most visible personality in Texas, a state of 26 million.
Brown is essentially the CEO of the Longhorn operation. He’s in charge of a money-making organization that raked in $103.8 million in income in the 2011-2012 season. However, despite the program’s monetary success, Brown has overseen a business that — in the past three years — has failed to issue a proper on-field return. The Longhorns have stumbled to seasons of five, eight and nine wins the past three seasons, well below the team’s normal standard.
In any business, the boss — in this instance the coach — is immediately blamed for a company’s failure. If it continues, he gets fired.
With that reasoning in mind, why isn’t Brown’s job at risk?
Any other decision-maker would be questioned with results like these, especially at a program with the resources that a nearly limitless budget can provide. Nick Saban is the only coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision who pulls in more than Brown’s nearly $5.3 million salary, and Saban has won two national championships in the past three years. Brown hasn’t even sniffed a Big 12 title in the same span.
Recently, Brown told Yahoo! Sports’ Pat Forde he would not be fired. Actually, he went step farther, indicating he wished to complete his contract which runs through 2020.
“I want to finish at Texas,” Brown said. “If I’m healthy and we win, I’m going to try to make 2020 [when his current contract expires]. I think it would be fun to do that, get back on another roll. People have said, ‘What about your legacy?’ Who cares about your legacy? You’re dead when you have one.”
But while Brown may not care about the state of his legacy, the fans and loyal UT alumni certainly worry about the perception of the product. It is a commodity that has been carefully crafted over decades, formed around one thing: wins.
From 2001-2009, Brown led Texas to 10-plus wins each season, and like clockwork Texas appeared in the top 10 nationally. The pattern broke in 2010, resulting in the first losing season the Longhorns endured in the Brown era. The following seasons weren’t much better, and yet Brown is speaking about coaching for seven more seasons.
At any other school a coach would dodge job security questions after producing mediocre results. Brown avoided answering questions altogether, simply stating what is essentially a fact: He’s not going anywhere.
Brown’s national title in 2005 earned him a reasonable amount of pull, and a deserved benefit of the doubt. But when does that clout begin to wane?
Brown’s close relationship with men’s athletics director DeLoss Dodds makes it hard to envision one without the other. Still, if Texas struggles for a fourth-straight year Brown’s job should be more than in jeopardy; it should be all but gone. The Longhorns have the experience and talent this season to spur toward prominence and Brown’s retirement dream. But if they struggle — anthing less than eight wins — Brown’s seat should be hotter than hot, it should scorch.
It’s just smart business after all.