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Mack Brown leaves Texas with class and commitment

Pat Forde
Yahoo Sports

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Mack Brown led the Longhorns to one national championship and a berth in another national title game. (AP)

Mack Brown spent some time Saturday night visiting with football recruits who were on campus at Texas. His resignation had just been announced, but he wasn't walking out on his duties to the school.

Brown was still selling the Longhorns. It's what he's done with skill and aplomb for 16 seasons, rebuilding one of the brand names of college football. He is quitting his job, but not quitting his commitment to the program.

That's both laudable and believable, if you know Mack Brown. He's a class guy. Unfortunately, he had to endure some low-class treatment over the last week.

A barrage of media reports had Brown resigning at Texas several days before Brown resigned at Texas. The situation had not played itself out, but people were chirping in reporters' ears that it was all over. Multiple sources told Yahoo Sports that those reporters were at the least premature, if not outright inaccurate.

"All I can say is Mack is straight-up lying to me if [the resignation reports] are true," one source said Tuesday night.

In actuality, there were several more chapters to play out in a saga that started gaining traction in early September, when the Longhorns stumbled to a 1-2 start in a must-win season.

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The Longhorns have had four straight single-digit victory seasons under Brown. (AP)

There was the Thursday Board of Regents discussion of whether Texas president Bill Powers would retain his job. Powers is a staunch ally of Brown's, and their fate seemed tied. When Powers held on to his position, that was a significant boost to Brown's autonomy. A subsequent meeting between Powers, Brown and new athletic director Steve Patterson underscored the fact that no booster or regent was going to make this decision.

It would be Brown's call. Not anyone else's.

As a source with intimate knowledge of the situation told Yahoo Sports Thursday night: "Mack needs to make a decision. We will know soon."

Late Saturday afternoon, we knew. Brown informed his superiors and staff that he would indeed walk away from Texas after the Longhorns play Oregon in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 30.

This was welcome news to a great many Texas fans – and truth be told, it's probably the right decision. After nine straight seasons of double-digit victories, the Longhorns are concluding a fourth-straight season with single digits in the win column.

That's OK at a lot of schools. It's not OK at Texas – especially after such a long sustained run of success. Brown built the beast, and then the beast devoured him.

When you've won a national title and played in another championship game, people develop an appetite for that level of excellence. When you take it away for four humbling years – Brown was just 18-17 in the Big 12 in that time, in a league that has gotten easier – the stomachs really start to growl.

Compound the win-loss record with the recruiting record and it only gets worse. With Jameis Winston winning the Heisman Trophy Saturday night, Texas has now passed – or wanted to change positions – on three straight Heisman-winning quarterbacks: Winston, Johnny Manziel and Robert Griffin III. Those misevaluations have only been exacerbated by the pedestrian QB play the Longhorns have had during that time.

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Brown's future could include another coaching job or a career in TV or politics. (AP)

So it's time. And even if Nick Saban has chosen to sit on his ever-expanding pile of loot in Tuscaloosa, Texas will have an abundance of quality successor candidates to choose from.

The question is whether this public and, at times, ugly separation with Brown will dissuade some of those candidates. Texas politics is often a theater of the absurd – but when it trickles down to the college football level, that might be more drama than a lot of alpha dog coaches want to be involved with. The school administrators may have some explaining to do to wary job candidates.

On the other side of the equation, what will become of Mack Brown? He's 62, young enough to continue coaching if he wishes – and if he can find an appealing job. That might entail sitting out a season, since the job carousel has spun fairly slowly this year. (At least until now.)

Brown would be great on TV if he wanted to go that route. He could be a dynamite fundraiser, although staying at Texas in that capacity would be a bit awkward. He could even give politics a whirl.

Brown might be too nice for that brass-knuckles field of endeavor. Some argue he was too nice as a football coach, too, failing to hold entitled five-star recruits accountable for shortcomings on the field.

But if being too nice is the worst thing you can say about a guy in his 60s, I think Mack Brown can live with that. It's too bad he had to go out amid a carnival atmosphere, but Brown was still keeping it classy Saturday night.

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