When Steve Patterson arrives as the new athletic director for the Texas Longhorns, all eyes will be on how he handles embattled football coach Mack Brown. Whether Patterson is in-waiting or not, do not expect him to be passive when it comes to future of Texas football.
On Monday, the University of Texas announced Patterson as its new athletic director after serving the same role at Arizona State since March 2012. He also has experience in administrative roles with the Portland Trailblazers, Houston Rockets and Houston Texans, among others.
Texas athletics' new leading man replaces DeLoss Dodds, who announced his impending retirement back in September. The incumbent will officially retain his role until August 2014, meaning Patterson is considered "in-waiting."
Patterson is a Longhorn, through and through. He earned both his undergraduate and law degree at Texas, and now has a chance to revamp an athletics department in a down year by most standards.
Chief among his duties will be to determine the future of head coach Mack Brown. Now in his sixteenth season, Brown has gone 28-18 over the past three and a half seasons while being criticized for missing on the last two Heisman Trophy winners.
Many will look at Patterson's career at Arizona State, in which he did not hire or fire any head coaches, and believe he will keep the status quo. Delving into Patterson's past paints a different picture of the recent hire.
As USA Today's Ty Duffy reports, Patterson is far from inexperienced when it comes to hiring head coaches. He hired Rudy Tomjanovich in 1992 when he was with the Rockets, Dom Capers to be the Houston Texans' first head coach and Nate McMillan to be head coach of the Trailblazers in 2005.
Even in his brief tenure as head man at Arizona State, Patterson "rearranged" more than 50 positions within the ASU staff. He also was a member of the selection committee that ultimately selected current coach Todd Graham.
This tells us that while Patterson's will carry an "in-waiting" tag until August, he will not hesitate to make changes he believes are necessary. Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel reported that Patterson was hired partially because of his "business experience," and good businessmen are proactive.
Currently, Brown is as safe as he can be. His team is undefeated in Big 12 play and will take the conference title if it wins out.
But if Texas should fall to any one of the three ranked teams remaining on its schedule, including No. 6 Baylor, the anti-Brown crowd will move back in. More importantly, Patterson could see an opportunity to move on some of the country's hottest names.
Chief among them will be Nick Saban, who reportedly would only leave Alabama for Texas. Baylor's Art Briles is also a short hour-drive away in Waco, while Patterson knows first-hand the prowess of Stanford's David Shaw.
With names like these potentially available, Patterson will certainly shop around should Brown's team fall flat to end the season. It would irresponsible not to do so.
Whatever pressure was on Brown to win out this season was just turned up a notch.