Mack Brown salutes in the crowd after his final game as Texas head coach (USA Today Sports)
Though he said his resignation was “what’s best for Texas," Brown was pushed out after falling short of expectations for the fourth straight year. He had previously led the Longhorns to nine consecutive 10-win seasons from 2001-2009. His once-dominant program had become mediocre, and no matter what Brown tried, the Longhorns could not rejoin college football’s elite.
“It's been a wonderful 16 years. A great ride," Brown said after the game. "I have not [had any regrets]. I think it’s best for Texas, it’s best for me and it’s best for the players. We need to win more than eight games.”
He took over a 4-7 team in 1998 and immediately reinvigorated the program. The proof is in the wins. There were 158 of them in all – including the 2005 National Title -- and just 48 losses after Monday night’s setback. A .767 winning percentage. Not too shabby.
His players loved him, as evidenced by a tweet sent out by the official Texas football account Monday night with Brown embracing a player upon entering the locker room.
— MBTexasFootball (@MBTexasFootball) December 31, 2013
His players spoke glowingly of Brown all week. They wanted to win the Alamo Bowl for Mack, but it was apparent early on that the Longhorns were outmatched by the speedy Oregon Ducks.
"It’s tough not to get the win for him. We love coach Brown and Sally [Mack's wife] is like a second mom to us," said senior defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat. "Coach Brown loves us, and he’s never shy to show it. It’s tough to see him go. We are Texas, this is a place we want to come back to and see coach Brown. So it’s tough to not have him here."
The Longhorns athletic department will act quickly. New athletic director Steve Patterson said a new coach would hopefully be hired by the time recruiting reopened on Jan. 15. Patterson praised Brown, saying that he “operated with class,” but it’s a clear that a new era of Longhorn football is on the horizon.
Brown is entering uncharted territory, and admitted he has no idea what's in his future.
“I’ve never been here before," Brown said. "Since I've been here I've never really want to look back, because you want to be driven and look forward. That’s something I don’t see myself doing. But I also need to look at where we go next. What we do as a family.”
The University will undoubtedly throw millions at coaching candidates and you're fooling yourself if you think Brown's replacement won't have tough shoes to fill.
Here’s to hoping his replacement operates with the same class that Brown routinely exhibited.
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