Originally Published: Nov 13, 2010 10:38 AM CDT
“A reluctant” Mack Brown sat down with ESPN this week to discuss what’s gone wrong with his 4-5 Longhorn. In some ways he also threw his players and coaches under the bus. But the likeable coach also said he was the one most responsible for the most shocking start to a season I can remember a college giant ever having. And before Texas fans start pointing to OU’s five-loss season of a year ago, take a long hike.
Anyone with a lick of sense knows that the comparison is apples and oranges. Absurd. That losing your Heisman Trophy winner in the first game, your all-world tight end before the season and 15 one-time starters to injury is not in the same universe as the awful season UT is having.
Many believe that Brown has seen the unthinkable happen. That he has “lost” his team. Lots of coaches have told me that you’ve reached your nadir when that happens. The unpardonable sin.
Several football people I trust have said for years that although Brown has done a great job throughout his career and despite the fact he has put Texas back among the elite, that he has one flaw that has kept his program from winning conference championships as much as Texas should win conference championships. He doesn’t make his players accountable as much as he should. That his “I’ll answer that one for Chris” response is typical of Brown. I think it’s a complement to a degree. But a fault to a larger degree. Is it more that he loves and protects his players or is it he doesn’t take criticism well, has thin and basically makes too many excuses?
To be honest, I believe Bob Stoops may have done his best coaching job last season. Four of the five losses were very close games that could have gone either way, in a conference full of tough teams and against a non-conference schedule most teams in the south are afraid to schedule. He never came close to losing his team. And just losing five games with the most injury-riddled team in memory was remarkable.
Brown is a great coach. I first met him in 1984 when Barry Switzer as his offensive coordinatora post he only kept one year because he’d established himself as an up-and-comer, had shown his incredible personal skills and had been wise enough to have legends like Darrel Royal be strong references for potential jobs.
Point being I don’t like writing or talking about things critical of Mack. But just as I hate to be frank and grade the OU staff with Ds and Fs when I think they deserve it, I have always believed you call it like you see iteven though I have created enemies by the dozens along the way. But I can sleep at night knowing in my heart that I am not a homerregardless of what spineless and shallow critics may say.
Thus, in a week that will be remembered for one where Cam Newton was exposed, on a local scene, it will be remembered as “throw them under the bus week.” OU OC Kevin Wilson did it with RB Coach Cale Gundy, and to some degree Mack did it with his players and coaches. I don’t think that’s so bad if it’s done in private and with only a very few trusted allies. But when the pens, laptops and mics are looking for a headline, I believe it’s not good. Fall on the sword. Fans don’t want to hear it. Players don’t want to hear it. And most of all, the coaches don’t want to hear it. OU fans want playmaker Roy Finch getting a lot of carriescertainly not 35 less than a reliable featured back, who could have been on the field at the same time with Finch anyway.
Back to Mack. Correctly, he pointed out that he is responsible for a deadly sin: His team did not respect perennial also-rans UCLA and Iowa State (sorry So Callers, but it’s the truth).
Mack gets a lot of credit for saying, “I’m not getting it done.” But not so much credit for saying, “But I can’t get it done if you don’t help me.” He was asked an important question: Why say publically that you will replace assistants at the end of the year? “Why not?” The better question is “why?” Probably because fans want to hear it and party because it’s toss-the-coaches-under-the bus time.
We’ll see if Texas changes QBs tonight in its home game against touchdown favorite OSUdid I really just say that? The odds were shorter in August that David Letterman would become a member of the Tea Party than OSU would be favored over UT in Austin.
And we’ll see if Wilsonand not just Gundygives Roy Finch due playing time and touches. My guess is that Texas will get popped and Wilson and Company make changes. And good for them that they don’t have the FBI snooping around for answers as is the case in Auburn. All they have to deal with is hacks like me asking legitimate questions. And oh by the way, Mack’s $5 mill a year and the $400K per year salary in Norman make it all the more reasonable to ask the questions you are asking.
Sooners AND Pokes win and stay on track for the mammoth meeting in Stillwater. Investigating potential problems
I leave you with a classic line I read this week regarding the Newton scandal. Hall-of-Fame writer Art Spander wrote this in a piece he did this week: “Darryl Rodgers, so skilled a football coach he turned San Jose State into a winner - he also coached another school nicknamed Spartans to national prominence, Michigan State - is credited with the wise observation about his profession, to wit: "Theyll fire you for losing before they fire you for cheating.
Have a good one. And watch out for bodies climbing from beneath buses.