What, exactly, is the head coaching forecast in Austin?
Fair for the next four months, with a cold front forming if Texas has another ho-hum season.
Head coach Mack Brown's contract with the University of Texas runs through 2020. Brown's salary is currently $5.3 million, with $100,000 incremental raises every year.
That means in 2020, Brown will be 69 years old and earning $6 million. With those kind of numbers, the school would appear to be on the hook for Brown—his buyout has to be huge, right?
It's peanuts, according to an October 2012 Dallas Morning News report:
ABC's Darren Rovell tweeted out the figures Monday, which call for Brown to earn a $2.75 million buyout if he's fired on or before Dec. 31 of 2014. But the buyout number drops to $2.25 million on the first day of 2015.
If Brown were to be dismissed at the end of the 2013 season, Texas would have to make four payments of $687,500 to him.
To put those numbers in perspective, Notre Dame is still paying the buyout portion of former head coach Charlie Weis' contract. The school has paid more than $8.7 million and "payments expected through the end of 2015 could bring the total to approximately $19 million," according to a USA Today report.
If Notre Dame was willing to pay $19 million to unload Weis, Texas certainly won't balk at putting Brown out to pasture for $2.75 million if things don't go well.
Brown has only had two seasons that failed to reach the nine-win mark at Texas. Unfortunately, those 5-7 and 8-5 seasons occurred in the last three years. Instead of reloading after its last title game appearance, Texas has had to rebuild.
That can't be sitting well with fans.
One month after Texas lost to Alabama in the 2010 BCS Championship game, the Longhorns reeled in the nation's second-best recruiting class. Things were looking good.
Later that fall, Mack Brown saw his team drop two straight games at home to Iowa State and Baylor. Suddenly, things stunk. Brown said "it's not about talent level" and that his coaches "aren't stupid, they do know what they're doing." He also said, "I'll fix it." (see video below)
Fix it he did. Brown apparently had second thoughts about his 2010 coaching staff and rebuilt it, according to this ESPN report:
After that 5-7 season, Brown changed his staff, bringing in two young coordinators (Bryan Harsin on offense and Manny Diaz on defense) and new coaches on both sides of the line (Bo Davis on defense and Stacy Searels on offense). Darrell Wyatt came on as the wide receivers coach, and Bennie Wylie became the strength and conditioning coach.
Flash forward two years after that dreadful 5-7 season.
"The head coach is responsible," Brown said in that same ESPN report. "I have my energy. I'm moving forward, and we are darn sure going to get this thing fixed."
The problems didn't get fixed. There were back-to-back blowout losses to Oklahoma, back-to-back seasons with fewer than 10 wins and back-to-back seasons without a BCS bowl berth.
This year there is a new twist. Texas' class of 2013 was ranked No. 17.
This was expected due to the small number of scholarships available. But Alabama head coach Nick Saban seems to have overcome the recruiting numbers game. Saban's worst recruiting class in Tuscaloosa was in 2010—Alabama was ranked No. 5.
This year, the Longhorn's roster is littered with 4- and 5-star upperclassmen. It would be hard to explain away an eight- or nine-win season with so much talent. That is why Brown needs to do a better job of developing his players and enforcing the game's physical and mental disciplines.
Brown knows this, and he's made valiant attempts to do so.
But when a head coach rebuilds his staff, gets blown out by his biggest rival and loses five elite prospects in his last class, dark clouds are on the horizon.
When an athletic director is looking at $2.75 million to buy out his head coach—that's loose change at Texas—this is probably Brown's last hurrah.
As much as Brown has done for college football, and as treasured as he is in Austin, sentimental whimsy has no place in college football.
The College Football Playoff is coming.
Note- this article was updated on May 16 due to an inaccurate 200 win statistic cited in the original submission. My apologies for the error.