There was no upset, no surprise Gatorade bath, no dramatic carry off.
Mack Brown’s final game as Texas head coach ended with an anticipated thud against Oregon in the Alamo Bowl, serving as one final piece of evidence that change was necessary.
Yet, conflicting this business decision—and that’s exactly what this was—is Brown’s incredible legacy in Austin.
It’s a legacy that has completely changed the Texas athletic program over the past 16 years, turning the school into the nation’s biggest cash steer. It’s one that has a national championship attached to it, a game that will go down as perhaps the greatest of our lifetime.
And yes, Brown will leave the sidelines seemingly loved by all, a rarity in the cutthroat business that is college coaching.
That same cutthroat business demands results—perhaps to an unreasonable degree at times—although mediocrity at a school with unlimited resources simply won’t do.
It’s the nature of the business and Brown knows this better than anyone. In recent years, business has not been good to the Texas football program.
Although the word “resignation” will be attached to his departure, there’s no smiling ride off into the sunset. This, as documented by Yahoo! Sports’ Pat Forde, was anything but Brown’s call.
But it was also the right call despite being a difficult call to make, which can be a challenging thing to balance. Preserving a legacy and regaining momentum with overwhelming changes might be an impossible mountain to climb.
The 30-7 loss against Oregon on Monday night was further proof that something had to be done—not that any was needed—and a culmination of problems that have plagued the team in recent years. This wasn’t the final “told ya so.” That ship had already sailed. This was an end of an era that came without much surprise.
Although the score was relatively lopsided, the Alamo Bowl was not without its highlights for the Longhorns. The defense held tough, forcing Oregon to settle for field goals.
It bent as Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota found endless space in the open field early on, but it settled in. It kept the team in the game, although it was the sputtering offense along with two Case McCoy interceptions returned for touchdowns that proved to be the difference.
This stat certainly doesn’t help.
For 2nd straight game #Longhorns QB Case McCoy has more passing yds to other team (75) in INTs than to Texas players (48).— Chip Brown (@ChipBrownOB) December 31, 2013
The fourth quarter served more as a visual and audio collage with the game out of reach. It was a time for cameras to focus in on the Mack Brown-centric signs scattered throughout the stadium. It also gave the broadcast booth time to appreciate the man.
Before that, the Texas band showed its appreciation at halftime.
Cool gesture by the Texas marching band at halftime, paying tribute to Mack Brown after 16 years in Austin. pic.twitter.com/RV8lkHqhXX— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 31, 2013
It wasn’t a script made for Hollywood, but perhaps it was unreasonable to expect anything else. The matchup wasn’t favorable by any means, the injuries mounted on both sides and it wasn’t just a Mack Brown problem.
But a 30-21 record over the past four seasons—including zero 10-win seasons—is simply not good enough. In that same time, Alabama has amassed a record of 46-6.
While it’s unreasonable to compare any program to Alabama at a time when the program is thriving, this is the bar that has been set for Texas. More specifically, this is the bar that Texas—under Brown’s guidance—has set for itself.
Given the wealth of talent in the state, the facilities and the money the program brings in, the expectations are incredible each year. And they should be.
That doesn’t mean Texas has to be Alabama, but there’s no reason the canyon between the two schools should be this wide.
Therein lies the problem: we’ve grown accustomed to Texas being average.
Brown’s departure from the school will take some getting used to. Defensive coordinator Greg Robinson, who took over the position early on this year and did well in his role, worded it perfectly following the loss.
"He's a hard coach to replace." - Greg Robinson, visibly emotional talking about Mack Brown #HookEm— Justin Wells (@justinwells2424) December 31, 2013
He will be a difficult figure to replace, but he will be replaced. And while his legacy won’t end on the easiest of terms, it will live on in tremendous fashion.
You don’t forget 16 years of accomplishments, nor should you. But the Alamo Bowl served as one final reminder that the Texas Brown built needs to be rebuilt by a new architect.