Posted September 22nd, 2017
The Texas football program dates back to 1893. Each day, we look at a little piece of Longhorn history. We’re starting by looking at each Longhorn football season.
After a 9-4 season in 2012 that saw a Texas quarterback emerge in David Ash, there was some hope returning to Austin that Texas was “back” in the college football national conversation. Off the heels of a bowl win, Texas entered the season No. 15 in the preseason polls.
But there were still issues. The Texas defense was not good the year before despite a talented group of players. The offense was better, but not at the level some had come accustom to during the 2000s. The rumblings of Mack Brown’s job security were quieter than the start of the 2012 season, but they weren’t completely gone.
With Texas A&M, now in the Southeastern Conference, coming off a season in which they had Heisman Trophy winner (who was back on campus) and a good recruiting class, the pressure for Texas to control the state was also greater.
After winning the opener against New Mexico State 56-7, Texas traveled to Provo, Utah for a matchup with the BYU Cougars.
They didn’t return home intact, in fact, they seemingly left defensive coordinator Manny Diaz in Utah.
Unlike some of those Oklahoma matchups under Brown, Texas never trailed by an insane amount in the game, losing by 19 points and even cutting the lead in the third quarter to 34-21. But it was the yards. Texas allowed 550 yards of rushing. The Cougars added 129 passing yards, because, I’m guessing, BYU wanted to keep things honest. It’s one of the worst defensive performances in Texas history. BYU quarterback Taysom Hill had touchdown runs of 68, 20 and 26 yards.
Texas lost 40-21 following a scoreless third quarter.
Third-year defensive coordinator Diaz was relieved of his duties before the weekend was over and Texas brought back former defensive coordinator Greg Robinson to run the defense.
The defense didn’t improve the following weekend as Texas lost at home to Ole Miss 44-23. The catcalls for Brown’s tenure to step down grew louder. As was often the case from 2010 – (I mean, it will probably never stop), rumors swirled that Alabama coach Nick Saban was interested in coming to Texas — these never grew into anything other rumor.
But Brown and Texas fought back. The Longhorns won their next six games, including a 36-20 win over No. 12 Oklahoma. The sixth win came on the road in overtime against West Virginia , 47-40. Kicker Anthony Fera gave Brown another dramatic late game kick when he nailed a 24-yard kick to tie the game. Texas overcame a 26-16 deficit that day.
Texas had recovered from a 1-2 start and was now 7-2 and back in the rankings.
Then Oklahoma State ruined everything. A 38-13 loss in Austin to the Cowboys sent Texas out of the rankings. It was the first Big 12 loss of the year for Texas.
A win the next week against Texas Tech set up a defacto Big 12 championship game in Waco as Texas and Baylor had matching 7-1 Big 12 records. The Bears outscored Texas 17-0 in the third quarter after the game was tied 3-3 at halftime.
That quarter maybe why Mack Brown is no longer the coach today. Texas lost the game 30-10.
The regular season was now over, a bowl game would be coming but questions remained.
For starters, in October, DeLoss Dodds announced that he was retiring at the end of the season. After 32 years, Texas was going to have a new person calling the shots.
In early November, Texas named a new athletic director: Arizona State AD Steve Patterson, a Texas alum who had helped run professional basketball teams in Houston and Portland before becoming an collegiate administrator.
With Dodds out, a fan base champing at the bit for changes, Brown’s status was in question.
In the meantime, Texas was heading to the Alamo Bowl to play No. 10 Oregon. Few gave the Longhorns any chance to win that game as Oregon was 10-2 and led by future Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota. Oregon would play for a national title the next season.
On Dec. 14, 2013, a little more than two weeks before the bowl game, Brown ended the speculation. He officially announced that he was resigning as head coach of the Longhorns.
“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,” Brown said in a statement. “Now, the program is again being pulled in different directions, and I think the time is right for a change.”
Statesman columnist Kirk Bohls wrote: “Mack Brown leaves Texas far better than he found it. When he took over for John Mackovic starting in 1998, he had to restore Longhorn pride, mend fences with ex-players, alumni, fans and the Texas high school coaching community.”
There were many reasons why a coach just a few years removed from playing in the BCS Championship Game felt he needed to walk away, but if Texas doesn’t get outscored 17-0 in a third quarter against Baylor, and wins that game and in turn wins the Big 12 title and play in a BCS Bowl game, does this happen? We’ll never know.
On Dec. 30, Oregon was too much for Texas. The Ducks gained 469 yards and beat Texas 30-7 in the Longhorn’s backyard. It was an unfitting way for the second most successful coach in Longhorn history to walk away.
During Brown’s 16 seasons Texas won a national title for the first time in 25 years. They played for a second title in 2009 and won 158 games, second most in program history and just nine fewer wins than Royal had from 1957-1976.
Under Brown, Ricky Williams won a Heisman Trophy and Colt McCoy and Vince Young were finalist. A bevy of players were drafted to the NFL, including possible future NFL Hall of Famers and All-Pros like Casey Hampton, Derrick Johnson, Jamaal Charles and Earl Thomas.
Brown took over the program following a 12 year stretch of mostly poor play and helped make Texas so popular that ESPN gave an entire television network to the university.
Brown’s legacy will be that he was the greatest recruiter in the history of the program, built statiscally the most dominant team in program history and won two of the biggest games in program history– the Rose Bowls in 2005 and 2006.
Brown felt he had to go after his team went 8-5 and was a game away from winning the Big 12. Texas hasn’t had a winning season since and is 0-1 in bowl games following the end of the 2013 season.
Will Mack Brown, now 66-years-old, return to coaching? Only he knows. For now he remains a fixture on Saturdays with his broadcasting work and remains a strong supporter of Texas athletics.
When Texas fired his successor Charlie Strong after three seasons (Patterson got even less time as athletic director), the university hired a former Brown graduate assistant in Tom Herman.