Texas Football: Longhorns Blew It When They Kept Will Muschamp Waiting for Brown

Lisa HornePac-12 and Big 12 Lead WriterOctober 15, 2012

Texas head coach Mack Brown
Texas head coach Mack BrownTim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE

Two Red River Rivalry routs in a row, and suddenly head coach Mack Brown's future in Austin, Texas, looks a little cloudy. Brown had no answers for the Sooners' onslaught last Saturday as he stood on the sideline and aged 10 years right before our eyes.

He looked like an old man—at just 61 years old—who just missed the Early Bird Special at Texas Roadhouse by five minutes. He was angry and defeated. 

Consider the final score between Oklahoma and Texas: 63-21. And the game wasn't even as close as that sounds. 

Shocking? Maybe not. The Oklahoman Sooner beat writer Jason Kersey tweeted several telling quotes from former Oklahoma defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek after the game.

Former OU DT Dusty Dvoracek on Texas under Mack: “They were soft, and they've been soft ... When they get down, they shut it down." #Sooners

— Jason Kersey (@jasonkersey) October 15, 2012


Dvoracek: "I can't think of any Texas teams since Mack Brown's been there that just lined up & devastated you with ... physicality" #Sooners

— Jason Kersey (@jasonkersey) October 15, 2012

Biting words from a former player of a rival, but at the same time, probably accurate. Where has the Longhorns' once-feared defense been? 

Lost. Out of position. Arm-tackling. And giving up big plays.

It wasn't always like this.

Will Muschamp was hired as the Longhorns' defensive coordinator in January of 2008, and 10 months later, Muschamp was assured the head coaching position when Mack Brown retired, according to multiple reports. No timetable had been set, but Muschamp agreed to a verbal contract that would give him a five-year contract with Texas when Brown decided to ride off into the sunset.

Texas understood what a gem it had in Muschamp. 

The school noted in its announcement that "Muschamp's Longhorn defense is leading the Big 12 in rushing defense (82.5 ypg/25th NCAA) and scoring defense (19.5 ppg/25th NCAA). UT ranks second nationally with four sacks per game. The Horns have held all of their Big 12 opponents below their season-scoring average and limited six foes to 14 points or less."

After Muschamp's initial 2008 season, the 2009 Longhorns defense finished first again in total defense in the Big 12. And again the following year. Muschamp was getting the job done. But Mack Brown was still coaching and didn't give any hint as to when he would hang up his hat.

Three consecutive No. 1-ranked defenses in the Big 12 would not get ignored by major programs in search of a new coach, and on December 11, 2010, Muschamp took over the Florida Gators after Urban Meyer's departure from Gainesville.

Muschamp left at a good time, despite having that head-coach-in-waiting title at Texas. Offensive coordinator Greg Davis had resigned a week prior to Muschamp's departure for Florida, and the Longhorns ended their 2010 season without a bowl berth for the first time in 13 years.

Without Muschamp, the Longhorns have endured two Red River Rivalry losses to the Sooners with gut-wrenching scores of 55-17 last year and 63-21 this year. Texas' defense is now ranked No. 8 in the Big 12.

Granted, Texas has had some key injuries this season and only returned six starters on the defense, but the basic fundamentals of defense are lacking on the field. It's noticeable to all of the Longhorns' opposing offensive coordinators. So much talent on the defense, yet so many arm tackles. And vacant zones. 

Texas had its successor to Mack Brown. But the school is married to Brown until 2020 after Brown signed an extension in the spring of this year, according to FOXSportsSouthwest.com. The contract includes an extension from 2016 to 2020, $5.2 million per year and $100,000 annual raises. 

Brown is a very good coach, no doubt. He's made it to the big dance twice, he was named Coach of the Year by various outlets, and his 2005 Longhorns won the BCS Championship. 

For what it's worth, Will Muschamp is making about $2.75 million a year at Florida, according to aol.sportingnews.com.

Right now, Brown's Longhorns are 4-2 and ranked No. 25 in the BCS standings. And Muschamp's Gators? They're ranked No. 2 at 6-0. Moreover, the Gators defense is ranked No. 4 in the SEC, less than a yard-per-game average behind South Carolina, which stands at No. 3 in the SEC.

Is Brown worth about $2.5 million more than Muschamp? Brown did win that 2005 BCS Championship. But you can't help but wonder one unsettling question: Did Texas blow it by keeping Muschamp waiting in the dark without a timeline of when he would succeed Mack Brown?

Texas fans now have eight years to ponder that very question.