The headlines surrounding Texas head coach Mack Brown's job stability have simmered a bit since the Longhorns have rolled through conference play undefeated. But a lot of questions remain unanswered about Brown's future as the Longhorns head into a nightmare three-game stretch to finish out the season.
Will Brown be back in 2014 if Texas wins out and makes an appearance in a BCS bowl game? Will he return if Texas loses the final three games? What if Texas beats Oklahoma State and Texas Tech but loses to Baylor and heads to the Cotton Bowl?
These are all valid questions. Here's a look at possible scenarios for Mack Brown's future as the Texas Longhorns head coach.
Scenario 1: Texas wins out and gets a berth in a BCS bowl game.
The Longhorns' six-game winning streak is not something most college football fans would have expected, considering Texas' 1-2 non-conference start of the season. But it's a reality.
Texas' unexpected turnaround has helped silence and even made believers out of the Longhorns' critics.
My take: If Texas can do the unthinkable and roll through conference play undefeated, Mack Brown should have the option to be Texas' coach in 2014.
Scenario 2: Texas wins two of three games and lands in the Cotton Bowl.
This scenario is very possible.
As of Monday, Texas is a three-point underdog to Oklahoma State, but the Longhorns have played better as underdogs this season. Nobody should bet their house on Texas upsetting Oklahoma State Saturday, but it also will not be a shock if the Longhorns can pull off a win, especially if OSU's wide receiver Josh Stewart is not cleared to play.
The Longhorns' Thanksgiving game against Texas Tech seems more winnable in Week 12 than it did in Week 9. The Red Raiders losing three straight makes you question how good Texas Tech was and how bad its opponents were in its 7-0 start to the season.
The jury is still out on Baylor. The Bears' impressive win over Oklahoma last Thursday does not erase the question mark, but it makes it smaller. The stats don't lie, and the stats say Baylor leads the nation in total offense, scoring offense and passing efficiency.
But the area in which Baylor has improved the most is defense. The Bears rank No. 9 in total defense and No. 6 in scoring defense.
My take: If Texas beats Oklahoma State and Texas Tech but loses a close game to Baylor and lands in the Cotton Bowl, Mack Brown should have the option to coach next season. If the Longhorns are blown out in one of the three final games, Brown's chances of returning in 2014 will likely decline.
Scenario 3: Texas loses the final three games of the season.
Texas finishes the regular season 7-5 and heads to the Holiday Bowl, similar to 2011. If this scenario occurs, the end of Brown's career as Texas' head coach may be near.
My take: Will Mack Brown be fired if Texas loses the final three games of the season? Perhaps. Will he walk away on his own? Possibly. Will he be given the benefit of the doubt and return in 2014? Unlikely.
Texas' new athletic director Steve Patterson does not have the same type of relationship that former AD DeLoss Dodds had with Brown. In fact, Patterson and Brown are just now starting to get to know one another. It is very unlikely Texas will "fire" Brown if the Longhorns lose the final three games of the season. Instead, Brown could likely "walk away" from coaching if this scenario occurs.
Brown is 62 years old and has enough of a legacy to walk away with his head held high, even if that means walking away after a 7-5 season.
It is too early to tell what the future holds for Brown. But in the end, Mack Brown will need to do what all coaches need to do—win in order to have the option to return in 2014.
Follow Taylor on Twitter: @Taylor_Gaspar