Though it has become a bit of a cliche, one could say that the unranked Texas Longhorns‘ upset victory over the No. 12 Oklahoma Sooners at the State Fair of Texas on Saturday was one of the most important wins in the career of head coach Mack Brown. After being blown out in two games early in the season, the heat was on the once-beloved coach, so much so that rumors have flown around all season about who will replace Mack at the end of the year – despite the lack of any official indication that he will be stepping aside.
After losing three straight games to the Sooners, two of which ended in humiliating fashion with final scores of 55-17 and 63-21, Mack’s legacy in Austin depended heavily on his winning this game and salvaging the season. Despite the significance of the game, it seemed nearly impossible that the Longhorns would escape this year’s contest with the “W.”
Nevertheless, Brown’s players rallied around him, the coaches called their best game in years, and the Longhorns looked better than they have in the last three seasons, soundly defeating their arch rivals in every aspect of the game.
But does this victory, as big as it is, do anything for Mack Brown in regards to his future in Austin?
The answer to that is both yes and no.
I don’t think the victory “saved” Brown’s job (if it in fact needed saving) or bought him anymore time in Austin. If the powers that be are truly looking to start anew next season, and the search for a new athletic director indicates this is a strong possibility, then the victory in Dallas likely did nothing to change that. If the rumors are true and the program is really looking for a replacement, Brown very well could have coached his last Red River Rivalry over the weekend, win or lose.
That said, I believe the upset win helped erase some of the disdain that the fanbase has felt for Mack over the last couple of seasons, which gives him the opportunity to go out on a high note.
With the unlikely victory, the Longhorns are now sitting at 3-0 in the Big 12 and have a decent chance to capture the conference crown in the still wide-open title race, assuming they can carry the momentum forward.
If it does indeed end up being Brown’s farewell season, and I think it will be now that he has seen how badly it could get for him, the victory over Oklahoma very well could have been a legacy-saving moment that could end up giving him the opportunity to ride off into the sunset with his legacy restored.