Texas' win over Texas Tech keeps the Longhorns Big 12 title hopes alive. But the win did not eliminate the elephant in the room.
Is this Mack Brown's last season in Austin?
Common speculation suggested that clinching a Big 12 title could have been Brown's saving grace. And the Longhorns appeared to be on pace to securing the title two weeks ago. Then the Oklahoma State Cowboys came to town and handed Brown the worst home loss in his 16-year career at Texas. That all but eliminated the good will Brown had built up during the Longhorns' six-game win streak heading into the game against Oklahoma State.
The Longhorns' pummeling of Texas Tech Thursday night extends Big 12 conference title hopes, and perhaps, Brown's dream of returning to Texas for another season. But both could very easily be on life support.
How can Texas win the Big 12?
There is not a simple way for the Longhorns to clinch a title, but considering how awful Texas looked in two non-conference games to start the season, the Longhorns should be thankful that an answer is still available.
As of November 29, Oklahoma State, Texas and Baylor top the Big 12 with one conference loss; followed by Oklahoma and its two Big 12 losses. If Baylor beats TCU November 30 and Oklahoma State loses to Oklahoma at noon ET on December 7, then Texas' 3:30 p.m. ET game at Baylor December 7 will determine the Big 12 champion.
Baylor has suffered a significant number of injuries to key players this season. The Bears team that was on the field against Oklahoma State last week was nowhere close to what it displayed in the first nine games of the season. Without running backs Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin, wide receiver Tevin Reese, left tackle Spencer Drango and linebacker Bryce Hager, Baylor looked like a bottom-half Big 12 team in the 49-17 loss to Oklahoma State.
It will not be easy for Texas to overcome a potent Baylor team, but it appears to be a less daunting task than what many expected earlier in the season.
Does a Big 12 title open the door for Brown to return for a 17th season at Texas?
Following the Longhorns' 41-16 win over Texas Tech, Longhorn Network asked Brown about his future at Texas live on TV. Brown somewhat avoided the question by saying he's solely focused on Baylor, but he will have a chance to sit down with Texas' new athletic director Steve Patterson after the regular season.
Patterson is known for welcoming change, and his replacing of more than 100 staff members at Arizona State proves that. But can change be made if everything goes in Brown's favor?
Let's put together a hypothetical scenario. What happens if the pieces of the puzzle fall into place and Texas clinches the Big 12, and, consequently, wins the Fiesta Bowl? Can a 10-win Mack Brown—who rebuilt Texas into a giant and did it the right way in the midst of all of the cheating in college football—be forced out as Texas' coach?
Only time will tell, but if one was forced to make a prediction, there's a good probability Thursday was the final time Mack Brown will watch the UT Tower turn burnt orange while singing the Eyes of Texas from the field of DKR Texas Memorial Stadium as the head coach of the Texas Longhorns.
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