Mack Brown steps down after 16 seasons as Texas Longhorns head coach

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"It's been a wonderful ride."

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

After 16 seasons as the Longhorns’ head coach, Mack Brown’s tenure is officially over.

Brown announced his decision to step down Saturday, one week after Texas’ 30-10 loss to Baylor in the regular season finale with a Big 12 championship on the line. He will coach his last game in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Dec. 30 against Oregon.

“Sally and I were brought to Texas 16 years ago to pull together a football program that was divided," Brown said in a statement. "With a lot of passion, hard work and determination from the kids, coaches and staff, we did that. We built a strong football family, reached great heights and accomplished a lot, and for that, I thank everyone. It's been a wonderful ride."

President William Powers Jr. said the announcement of Brown’s resignation — who he saw as a friend — is not easy. 

“This is a very difficult day for everyone in The University of Texas family,” Powers said. “Mack Brown is one of the best football coaches in the country, a tremendous representative of our University, and, most importantly, a great friend. He has produced championship teams with tremendous student-athletes and has always done so with the utmost class and integrity. Mack is just the best and he will be missed."

Brown’s decision to step down comes after Texas finished the 2013 regular season with an 8-4 record, the fourth straight season in which the Longhorns suffered at least four losses. Speculation about Brown's future ran rampant earlier this year after Texas dropped a pair of non-conference games to start the season 1-2.

Rumors began to swirl about possible replacements for Brown, with Alabama head coach Nick Saban being the most talked about. In January, one current and one former UT System regent placed a call to Saban's agent Jimmy Sexton to gauge Saban's interest in coming to Texas.

Questions about Brown’s job security quieted once Texas began conference play, as the Longhorns reeled off six straight wins against conference opponents. This proved to be short-lived though, as losses to Oklahoma State and Baylor in two of the next three games put Brown back on the hot seat.

Despite this, Brown maintained his intention to finish his current contract, which ends in 2020, throughout the year.

“I want to finish at Texas,” Brown said before the season. “If I’m healthy and we win, I’m going to try to make 2020. I think it would be fun to do that, get back on another roll.”

After the Longhorns’ second game of the season against BYU, he relieved defensive coordinator Manny Diaz of his duties and replaced him with Greg Robinson, the first time he’s ever replaced a coach mid-season. Robinson became Texas’ third defensive play-caller in the last four seasons.

These struggles aren’t new to Brown and his team.  He has failed to produce a football team up to Texas' standards, which in part he built, the past four years. Since 2010, he has led teams to a 5-7, 8-5 and a 9-4 record. His 2012 team manufactured, statistically, the worst defense in school history.

Despite these recent problems, there is no question of Brown’s importance to the Texas program. Brown led the Longhorns to the 2005 national championship, the school’s first title since 1970. He also helped Texas to the 2009 national title game, which the Longhorns lost to Alabama. Under the 62-year-old head coach, Texas won a pair of Big 12 championships.

"We appreciate everything Mack has done for The University of Texas," said Steve Patterson, the newly hired men's head athletic director. "He's been a tremendous coach, mentor, leader and ambassador for our University and our student-athletes. He is truly a college football legend … I know this decision weighed heavily on him, and today he told us he's ready to move forward."

Patterson was hired in early November, one month after DeLoss Dodds, who was UT's men's head athletic director for the past 32 years and who hired Brown, announced his plans to retire.

Powers, who received a vote of confidence from the board of regents earlier in the week himself, said he looks forward to working with Brown in a new, unspecified capacity.  

"I'm excited for the future and the opportunity to work with him in a new capacity for the years to come and am thrilled that he and Sally will remain part of our family," Powers said. "He is an unbelievable resource for us and will always be a valuable member of the Longhorn community."

Since Brown started his tenure in Austin, the Longhorns have finished in the top 15 in 10 of the last 13 years. He is one of only two coaches nationally to lead his team to 20 bowls in the last 21 seasons and 22 winning seasons in the last 23 years.

Brown finishes his 16-year tenure at Texas with a career record of 158-47, the second-most wins in school history behind Darrell K Royal. The Tennessee native has 40 years of coaching experience, 29 of which were as a head coach.

"[Texas] is the best coaching job and the premier football program in America," Brown said. "I sincerely want it to get back to the top and that's why I am stepping down after the bowl game. I hope with some new energy, we can get this thing rolling again.”

Correction: The call to Alabama head coach Nick Saban's agent was placed in January and reported in September.