Legendary Texas coach Mack Brown was on the sidelines at the Alamo Bowl in his last game Monday evening, Dec. 30, but the real drama in this game was whether new Athletic Director Steve Patterson would attempt to hire Baylor coach Art Briles away from the rival Bears who play Wednesday, Jan. 1 in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. While the Longhorns were battling Oregon in San Antonio live on ESPN, a crawl across the bottom of the television screen informed viewers that Briles, Vanderbilt's James Franklin, Louisville's Charles Strong and Florida State's Jimbo Fisher were on the short list of coaches Patterson was considering to replace Brown.
ESPN showed Patterson holding an impromptu, unofficial "press conference" in the stands before Texas lost to the Ducks, 30-7. When approached by news media reporters, Patterson declined to comment on the status of the coaching search other than to say he hoped to have it wrapped up by Jan. 15 so the new coach would have time to get his program established.
Patterson joked, "We're not going to require these people to fill out job applications."
During breaks in the Alamo Bowl broadcast, the ESPN commentators correctly stated that the biggest thing about this game was always going to be that it was Brown's final game as the head mentor of the Steers. Brown, who led Texas to the national championship in 2005 with an exciting Rose Bowl victory against USC, was evidently forced to resign, according to a story recently published by Yahoo Sports. No official from Texas has corroborated the Yahoo story that regents pressured president Bill Powers to pressure Steve Patterson to inform Brown the Alamo Bowl would be his last game.
Brown, who also led the Longhorns to the national championship game in 2009 against Alabama, would only say that he thought it was the best thing for the school and for him to resign following the bowl game. Starting Texas quarterback Colt McCoy was injured during the first series of that game against the Crimson Tide which cost Texas its best chance of winning another national championship under Brown. Many observers thought Texas had an excellent chance to win that game if McCoy had not been sidelined by the untimely injury.
Brown also coached Vince Young and the Longhorns to a 2004 Rose Bowl victory against Michigan which leaves him the second winningest coach in Texas history. Of course Darrell Royal is the winningest coach in the school's history with three national championships.
For his part, Briles has remained mum when asked if he would consider the Texas job if it was offered. Busy preparing No. 6 Baylor for its Fiesta Bowl showdown with the University of Central Florida, Briles replied that "the grass is green here (Baylor) since we've got a new stadium and new facilities."
When pressed by another reporter more recently he reportedly said only he and his entire staff were honored to be at Baylor and that it would be a disservice to that institution to even discuss such a possibility while he was preparing the Bears for the upcoming game with UCF. An impressive victory in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl could allow Baylor to ascend as high as No. 2 in the nation following all the bowl games.
Brown finishes with a 244-122-1 lifetime record and is currently serving as president of the American Football Coaches Association. He said during the press conference after the Alamo Bowl that he would attend a meeting of the coaches' group and take off six months with "his beautiful wife Sally. She will be making all the decisions from now on."
ESPN analyst Mark May mentioned part of the recent criticism of Brown among Texas alumni stems from the fact Robert Griffin III (RG III) chose Briles' Baylor team over Texas and Johnny Manziel (Johnny Football) chose Texas A&M instead of going to Austin. Both Griffin and Manziel won Heisman Trophies for their respective schools. Lou Holtz disagreed with the fairness of any such criticism inferring it was impossible to blame any one coach for not recruiting just two players.
The mention of Briles as a possible successor for Brown only heightens the drama of the current bowl season far beyond who wins each game. Briles has coached this Baylor team to a record-breaking 11-1 season and the first Big 12 championship in the school's history. He has also led the school to bowl games in the last four years for the first time in Baylor's history.
With the firing of Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan today (Monday), the speculation that Briles may be offered that job will only increase. There is no secret RG III has kept in touch on a weekly basis with his college coach.
Patterson selected the same council that decided to hire him as athletic director to aid him in choosing the next head coach. One of the ESPN analysts said that Patterson must think that they made the right decision in hiring him, so why not rely on them to hire the new head coach?
When Lou Holtz was asked if he thought Mike Gundy would consider leaving Oklahoma State, his alma mater, for the Texas job, the former Notre Dame coach laughed and said, "Do you think his alma mater would hesitate to fire him if he quit winning football games?"
The coaching carousel is providing more entertainment for viewers than some of the bowl games. One thing for sure is that Mack Brown will enter the coaches hall of fame, according to ESPN. And Art Briles is the hottest coaching property in America right now.
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