Brown, Texas hoping time doesn't run out

September, 30, 2013
9/30/13
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AUSTIN, Texas -- Let’s get one thing straight: Mack Brown is not Lane Kiffin.

To compare the two coaches would be a laughable exercise. One has won a national title and is the winningest active coach in FBS. The other has a career record of 40-35 as a head coach.

Brown built a powerhouse, has won 150 games at Texas and is now trying to survive a four-year rebuild. The now-fired Kiffin inherited a powerhouse at USC, got hit by NCAA sanctions and couldn't get the job done.

Yet these two coaches have been tied together all season long. This really got rolling when Texas’ horrific loss at BYU fell on the same night that Washington State knocked off the Trojans.

[+] EnlargeMack Brown
AP Photo/Michael ThomasWill the coaching move at USC have an impact on Mack Brown at Texas?
The programs are two of the bluebloods of college football. Neither has won a national title since they squared off in 2006. Both programs face uncertain futures. The comparisons, though a bit lazy, aren’t unreasonable.

Regardless, Kiffin is now unemployed. His bosses, the ones who said they stood by him 100 percent entering the season, were ready to pull the plug by the third quarter of a 62-41 loss at Arizona State on Saturday.

It’s unlikely the events that are transpiring in Los Angeles this week will sway the leadership at Texas to view Brown’s situation differently. Texas is 1-0 in Big 12 play and seemingly getting better, with a very winnable game at Iowa State up next.

But if the overnight firing of Kiffin can teach Texas fans anything, it’s that there might be no anticipating when enough is enough.

The obvious answer, in the case of Brown, is the Oklahoma game. Give up 62 points in Dallas and it’s all over. But, hey, that was true before this season even began.

By all accounts, USC players were not unhappy with Kiffin’s dismissal. Even athletic director Pat Haden admitted that Sunday. It doesn’t seem like Brown has lost his own locker room, but suddenly more people -- and some of them are rather important -- are coming out of the woodwork to call for his firing.

What occurred Sunday was downright bizarre. Earl Campbell, the greatest player in school history, told a Houston TV station that Brown no longer has his backing.

"Nobody likes to get fired or leave a job, but things happen," Campbell told Fox 26’s Mark Berman. "I'd go on record and say 'Yes I think it's time.’

"I'd just say this, I take my hat off for USC for what they've done. They didn't mess around with it. They just said 'let's do it now.' I think at some point our university's people are going to have make a decision."

The source of those comments are as surprising as the timing. Campbell remains involved in the program, still works out in the Texas facilities and meets with prospects during recruiting events. Texas and Brown have long been strong supporters of Campbell. So where’s this coming from, and why say it now?

As a Longhorns legend, it is his right. Campbell even went ahead and said he’d support the candidacy of former Longhorn and Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray if Texas does make a change and declared that, quite frankly, he hopes Brown doesn’t stay.

Former Texas quarterback Chris Simms also stepped forward on Friday and said on a Fox TV show that he doesn’t think Brown will return in 2014 and that Texas doesn’t have the talent needed to save this season.

It’s hard to judge how much comments like those matter in the grand scheme of this situation. Losing the backing of alumni is a problem. The only way to silence dissent is winning -- and even if that does happen, will it be enough for Brown?

If the USC and Texas jobs both open up in the same offseason, college football will be in for a serious power shift. Both programs can be the game’s next powerhouses again. They can regain their status among the elite contenders.

Lane Kiffin was trying to get USC back there. Last August, he supposedly had the No. 1 team in the country and the Heisman front-runner. He didn’t win. His time was up.

Mack Brown still has time. If he doesn’t keep winning, it can run out quickly.

Max Olson | email

Big 12 reporter

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