Over the course of the past week in college football, attention was firmly fixed on the evolving drama between the job security of Texas Longhorns head coach Mack Brown and the program’s evident interest in Alabama Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban. Some of the drama, the speculation, the conjecture was so rich that even the best fiction writer would have been hard-pressed to replicate it. The narrative and the storylines were shaped on social media, traditional media, radio and about every platform you could imagine. For the time being it has all culminated with Saban accepting a long-term extension from Alabama, and for the time being, Brown appearing to be the head coach of the Longhorns going forward.
To assume things are this simple, however, belies what could be going on behind the scenes on the Forty Acres.
New Texas athletic director Steve Patterson will be tasked with several legacy-level decisions over the course of his first 12 months on the job. Undoubtedly, one of these decisions is the short and long-term future of the football program, both of which are bound together. There are rumblings around those close to the Texas program that Patterson wasn’t yet ready to make a decision on Brown’s future when the opportunity presented itself given all the drama surrounding the issue, and the importance of Brown’s replacement being the right fit.
From early accounts, Patterson’s quiet, seemingly more introverted personality suggests a different mode of operation than we’ve seen at Texas during the tenure of DeLoss Dodds who so often wore his emotions and intentions on his sleeve. Given how frustrated the Texas fan base is Mack Brown has survived what appeared to be the inevitable, it’s not reasonable to assume Patterson has simply let the issue rest on to be re-visited after the 2014 season, which could be disastrous for a variety of reasons which I won’t expand on for now.
A few things could be at work here:
1. As Texas enters the recruiting dead period where no contact is allowed with recruits, and many from the next two classes hang in the balance, Brown has been able to sell University president Bill Powers and Patterson on a new turn-around plan which will begin with a win over the Oregon Ducks in the Alamo Bowl and culminate with a 10 win or better season in 2014 which must include a Big 12 Championship.
2. Patterson has, in turn, taken this at face value and has provided Brown with the 2014 season to show him he deserves to remain the head coach at Texas regardless of Brown’s obvious desire to shape how his career on the Forty Acres ends.
3. On the flipside, Patterson has turned the Alamo Bowl into Brown’s Waterloo, his final opportunity to show he deserves to retain his job. This possibility remains popular with Texas fans due to the fact it could mean Brown’s replacement isn’t on the back-burner, but instead, simply put on hold as the search continues in earnest.
If this is indeed the case, Patterson’s vetting of replacements could be an ongoing process which wasn’t friendly to a timeline bound by the urgency of trying to poach someone of Nick Saban’s caliber from Alabama, and the coordination of parties it would require to put the necessary resources together in an instant.
Something tells me no decisions will be made with haste, without due process, and vast consideration. No one knows for sure what the next year will bring for Texas football, much less the next few weeks.
In fact only two people know for sure: Mack Brown and Steve Patterson.
The rest of us will just continue to consider what if and what could have been.
Kris Hughes is a Senior Writer, Business Analyst and College Content Coordinator for Rant Sports.