Mack Brown Did the Right Thing by Deflecting Earl Campbell's Comments

Ben Kercheval@@BenKerchevalCollege Football Lead WriterSeptember 30, 2013

AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 21:  Head coach Mack Brown pumps his fist after a call was overturned during play against the Kansas State Wildcats at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 21, 2013 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

For the second week in a row, Texas coach Mack Brown isn't having to answer questions about his job security—or, at least nearly as many as he was.  

The Longhorns, despite an awful two-game skid in non-conference play against BYU and Ole Miss, are 1-0 in conference with a new defensive coordinator in Greg Robinson and sights on a Big 12 title. The teeth gnashing and hair pulling in Austin have eased up for the time being. 

It could all go straight to hell again if Texas loses to, or otherwise regresses against, Iowa State on Thursday and the hot seat talk will most certainly pick up again if the 'Horns drop yet another game to Oklahoma in two weeks. But, for now, things have calmed down considerably. 

And Brown isn't going to stir things up on his own. Not even when someone else throws the first punch.

Texas icon and Heisman Trophy winner Earl Campbell told FOX 26 Sports over the weekend that he felt it was time for UT to replace Brown. 

"Nobody likes to get fired or leave a job, but things happen," Campbell said. "I'd go on record and say 'yes I think it's time.'

"I'd just say this, I take my hat off for USC for what they've done. They didn't mess around with it. They just said 'let's do it now.'  I think at some point our university's people are going to have make a decision."

For what it's worth, Campbell later alleges that his comments were taken out of context. 

Either way, Brown wasn't biting on them. "Earl Campbell will always be welcome back at Texas," Brown said Monday via Cedric Golden of the Austin American-Statesman. "I'm disappointed in his comments but he has a right to say what he feels."

The situation brings to mind what happened earlier in September with Nebraska coach Bo Pelini. When the 'Huskers surrendered a 21-3 lead to UCLA (before going on to lose 41-21), former Nebraska quarterback Tommy Frazier tweeted that it was "time for change." 

Pelini's response? "If he [Frazier] feels like that, then so be it. We don't need him. That's a shame."

There's something to be said for that kind of candidness, but the fact is that Frazier has a rapport with the Nebraska community that Pelini could only dream of having. To dismiss Frazier like that after blowing a lead was, in a word, unwise.

(Cursing out a fan base doesn't exactly help your cause, either.)

But understand that calling anyone out is not usually Brown's M.O., even if he's the target of someone else's words. It's simply not in his nature to say anything other than what's politically correct and often cliché.

Jan 5, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Oilers former running back Earl Campbell is introduced before a game the AFC Wild Card playoff game between the Houston Texans and Cincinnati Bengals at Reliant Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sport

That doesn't make for juicy sound bytes or interesting water cooler conversation, but in this case, it was the right thing for Brown to do. With each loss going forward, Brown's future with UT becomes a more heated conversation. To divide the fan base any more, especially over someone as beloved around the Longhorns program as Campbell, would have major negative implications for Brown. 

And with the passing of former 'Horns quarterback James Street making the news on Monday, Brown had other things to talk about that weren't related to the Cyclones. Meanwhile, this he-said/he-said story will blow over quickly.  

Maybe Brown returns to coach the 'Horns in 2014, maybe he doesn't. If that's the case, we can at least say confidently he didn't go out badmouthing people along the way. 


Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. All quotes cited unless obtained firsthand. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenKercheval