Following up on Orangebloods.com's report earlier in the week, Texas Longhorns head football coach Mack Brown officially stepped down after 16 years at the helm in Austin, according to the Longhorn Network.
The announcement comes after a full week of speculation and rumors and a day after the annual Texas football banquet. Brown will coach his final game with the Longhorns on Dec. 30 in the Alamo Bowl against Oregon.
All things considered, it was the right decision. Brown had been unable to get back to a BCS bowl or national championship game since the 2009 season. The Longhorns couldn't even get back to 10 wins, for that matter. The Longhorns have dropped 20 games over the last four seasons. Those results aren't good enough at Texas.
It's a far cry from the nine-year stretch of at least 10 wins from 2001 to 2009, which included seven bowl wins and seven national Top 10 finishes.
On the other hand, Brown deserves better. Big-time athletics aren't a charity, but Brown has brought a national title to Austin and competed for another. The past few years, especially the past few months, couldn't have been enjoyable for him. Even after wins, he has been asked about his job.
It was time to move on.
Brown released a statement on TexasSports.com, saying in part, "It's been a wonderful ride. Now, the program is again being pulled in different directions, and I think the time is right for a change. I love The University of Texas, all of its supporters, the great fans and everyone that played and coached here. ... It is the best coaching job and the premier football program in America. I sincerely want it to get back to the top and that's why I am stepping down after the bowl game. I hope with some new energy, we can get this thing rolling again."
With all that said, it's an interesting time in the coaching marketplace. There are a lot of big names out there—Nick Saban, Art Briles, David Shaw, etc.—and Texas is one of the top few jobs in college football.
But what are Texas' chances of getting any of those coaches? Saban has everything he needs and then some at Alabama after getting another contract extension, and Briles and Shaw seem to enjoy where they are. Besides, Briles just landed a 10-year contract extension and raise.
Should Texas still pick up the phone and call? Absolutely. There's just no guarantee it would get any of them. As well, one hot coach, Arizona State's Todd Graham, cannot be hired because of an agreement made by Texas athletic director Steve Patterson when he left Arizona State in November.
In any case, here is a list of the most likely candidates Texas may look at during the coaching search.