Why not Mack Brown for athletic director?
We know he loves Texas, and in many circles — both on campus and around the state — Texas loves Mack.
The ESPN college analyst doesn’t need the money. Shoot, he wouldn’t even have to go through orientation since he’s still on the books for $500,000 per year.
Mack’s been flying up to Bristol, Conn., every weekend since he got out of the game probably because to keep his ear to the ground in case another coaching opportunity comes along. Brown, 64, is still young enough to walk a sideline and dazzle a blue-chip recruit’s parents, but this is the second season since he last coached and the clock is ticking.
But as an AD? Great age. Perfect situation. Familial surroundings.
Mack is right for the job at Texas for reasons that Steve Patterson wasn’t.
Patterson arrived with a plan to improve the fiscal bottom line and expand the Longhorns brand overseas, but his 22-month tenure was characterized by the alienation of employees, alumni, several coaches and, most important, his boss, Texas President Gregory L. Fenves, who pulled the trigger early Tuesday morning.
Patterson’s fatal mistake was inexplicably raising ticket prices for the major sports on campus. Most damning of those was the 30-percent increase for prime football seats at DKR to witness a team that just experienced its second losing season in five years.
“I hate this for Steve, he was good to me,” Brown told ESPN’s Brett McMurphy on Tuesday. “I’m really happy at ESPN/ABC. I have had no discussions (with) anyone about the AD job.”
Here’s what Mack didn’t say: “I’m not interested in the job.”
He also didn’t mention that he and Patterson were on campus together for less than one month before he left.
The guess here is Mack would take being in a plush office in the north end zone over weekends in Bristol, given the choice. If his coaching days are over, he would be crazy to not consider this, even if there are still some wounds remaining from how his tenure ended. Texas is a forgiving state and Mack’s days were mostly of the sunny variety. Some of his teams underachieved, but he won a national championship and coached for another.
You could say he wore out his welcome, but that wasn’t because people didn’t love him. It was because he stopped winning big after the Horns lost to Alabama in the 2009 title game. Others will believe that Mack stuck around just long enough for the coveted Nick Saban to sign an extension in Tuscaloosa.
Mack the coach may not be viable anymore, but he fits the personality profile of former Texas regent Tom Hicks, who told the Dallas Morning News on Tuesday that Texas fans want “to have kind of a warm and fuzzy feeling from people.”
Patterson was closer to coarse and scaly. Just not a people person.
Mack isn’t a number-crunching lawyer type like Patterson, but the old embraceable Mack who never forgot a first name would play in certain boardroom situations. Just as important, Charlie Strong’s relationship with the state’s high school football coaches would improve exponentially with Huggy Mack in his corner.
Are there more qualified candidates? Of course. NCAA administrator Oliver Luck — the former West Virginia AD who was famously passed over for Patterson in 2013 — along with Louisville’s Tom Jurich and Oklahoma’s Joe Castiglione come to mind, but Brown would be a fit because he knows these Texas streets as well as anybody.
Mack isn’t a sitting athletic director, but he’s Longhorn at heart whose hire would be met with great approval.
He still has the coaching bug, but his opinion of himself may be higher than that of the ADs whose teams he would consider coaching. I really don’t see him returning to the field. It’s time for him to take a long, realistic look in the mirror and ask himself if he wants to be the next Dr. Lou or the next Barry Alvarez. That may not be up to him because he’s not guaranteed to be part of the long list of candidates being put together.
Look, I’m not saying Brown would be the greatest athletic director in collegiate sports history.
But he wouldn’t have to be to make it work at Texas.