The public vote of confidence can oftentimes be considered the kiss of death.
So when Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds voiced his support for Mack Brown on Wednesday, it was only natural for cynics to pipe up. After all, Brown was one more bad loss from being escorted (back?) to the front of the hot-seat list anyway.
And the 'Horns 40-21 loss to BYU Saturday was, well, bad.
Since there's rarely a middle ground when it comes to Texas, the vibe surrounding the UT program this week is that Brown needs his team to rebound against Ole Miss.
Dodds doesn't quite see it that way, as he told Kirk Bohls of Austin American-Statesman on Wednesday:
Mack's fine...I know we didn't play well Saturday. Mack will know if he should be coaching (at Texas) or shouldn't be. I know this is my responsibility, and I'm not shying away from it. The bottom line is I'm for the kids and the coaches.
Some may see that as PR fluff, and maybe to an extent it is, but there's a key sentence in Dodds' statement to consider: "Mack will know if he should be coaching (at Texas) or shouldn't be."
It's no secret that Brown and Dodds are close, as are Brown and UT president Bill Powers. But the successful relationship Brown has with his superiors is beyond personal. There's also the money that comes in to Texas every year. According to Forbes' numbers from 2012, Texas is the most valuable college football team in the country and by a comfortable margin.
Not shabby for a program that's 23-17 (and 11-15 in Big 12 play) since the 2010 BCS championship game. And prominent boosters are, as of last season, still on the record as supporting Brown.
It was uncharacteristic of Brown to remove Manny Diaz as defensive coordinator, which he did less than a day after the Texas defense gave up 550 yards rushing to BYU. It would be equally uncharacteristic for Dodds to relieve Brown of his coaching duties if the 'Horns lose again Saturday to Ole Miss.
As Chip Brown of Orangebloods.com noted earlier this week, Brown's done too much to make life too good for Dodds and Powers.
Mack Brown won't be fired by athletic director DeLoss Dodds or school president Bill Powers. Brown's made their jobs too easy the past 15 years as record athletic department revenues poured in ($163 million last year, including $100 million from football).
Mack and Jerry Jones have long shared the ability to convert hope into cash.
But if the Texas program goes completely on tilt this season, Brown would probably walk away and spare Dodds and Powers any more grief from Longhorn Nation.
Also consider Brown's take on his precarious status as Texas' coach before the start of the season, back when things looked more promising for the 2013 Longhorns. And, as he told Yahoo! Sports, "I want to finish at Texas, if I’m healthy and we win, I’m going to try to make 2020. I think it would be fun to do that, get back on another roll."
Brown is 62 years old. He's not going to another job or looking for more money. What he wants is to win big again. Even if the 'Horns lose to Ole Miss—even if they get knocked around again—a Big 12 title isn't completely out of the question.
What will happen to Mack Brown this season?
Considering how quickly things have turned in the early portion of this season, rebounding for a conference title would be a major success.
At least that's how Dodds would likely view it.
But if things go south and it's 2010 all over again, then what? This was the year Brown and his staff had been building toward over the last couple of seasons. Given that even Brown's recruiting in recent years has come under fire, might it not be another three or four years before Texas is again in a position to win it all?
These are the questions Brown and Dodds will have to answer if a disaster similiar to 2010 comes to fruition. But Texas isn't at that point—yet.
"Mack loves the game. He's good for Texas. He's going to be a part of what his future is," Dodds told the Statesman. "I think the perfect storm scenario is apropos. I told Mack, 'It's a long season. There's lots of time to do good things.'"
So, for now, it would appear time is still on Brown's side even if it doesn't feel that way.
Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenKercheval.