Two days after one of the worst defensive performances in program history, and one day after dismissing his defensive coordinator, Mack Brown isn’t feeling any pressure.
He’s disappointed, sure, maybe even a little angry. But pressure, at a school where the fans, media and alumni have steadily called for his job? Not even a little. Actually, he didn’t even talk around the answer. Brown brushed off the question with an authoritative “no.”
Brown sat in front of the media Monday morning and addressed one of the most turbulent weeks in Texas history, concluding with the dismissal of defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. It’s the first time in Brown’s 16-year tenure that he has demoted or fired a coach in-season.
That fact alone is a beacon of desperation, no matter what the 62-year-old coach with a pedestrian 23-17 record for the last four years says.
Texas’ head coach smiled, calmly answered questions and even cracked a joke about the team’s offensive philosophy. But the underlying message from Brown, the players and even the Longhorn staff is clear: It’s a tense time in Austin.
Seniors Adrian Phillips and Carrington Byndom spoke with defeated looks in reference to Diaz getting demoted, and offensive coordinator Major Applewhite’s tone when addressing questions was so soft it was nearly inaudible.
Brown’s demeanor was different, though. He managed to be terse, yet approachable, almost as if he felt the team’s struggles don’t merit the attention garnered. Perhaps it’s just a matter of Brown staying calm in the face of controversy — it’s what a good coach should do after all — but the nonchalance shown wasn’t appropriate for a coach whose job is rumored to be on the line.
But no matter his attitude toward the situation, Brown should still be wary about his job status. He’s the second-highest paid coach in the FBS, the highest-paid state-compensated employee and he leads a starting lineup that includes more four and five-star recruits than the majority of FBS programs. Still, he’s led Texas to only four BCS appearances in 13 seasons, while his biggest rival, Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops, has appeared in eight in that same span.
Texas’ struggles the past four seasons are almost inexplicable with the talent and resources the program features. This presents a problem, too, because it is Brown’s imperative to identify and solve the issue — a task he’s been just as successful at as the average couch-sitting, chip-eating, remote-throwing fan.
The Longhorns’ season isn’t over. One loss in the non-conference portion of the schedule is a setback, but a Big 12 championship in a conference defined by parity remains a possibility. But after the embarrassment against BYU last Saturday, it would be hard to envision any extended level of championship-level play.
The onus is on Brown to solve this riddle soon or his fate will mirror Diaz’s.
Wonder if he’s feeling any pressure now?