Texas Longhorns: mack brown

Athlon ranks the Big 12 coaches

April, 10, 2014
Apr 10
Athlon Sports has always been big on lists. And this week, Athlon’s Steven Lassan ranked all 128 FBS coaches. He also pulled out the top 10 Big 12 coaches.

As a disclaimer, this is NOT our list. This is Athlon’s. So forward all hate tweets and emails to them. Not me. I already get enough.

[+] Enlarge Art Briles
Ron Jenkins/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT/Getty ImagesArt Briles' status has grown in the eyes of Athlon.
Without further ado:

1. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma

2. Art Briles, Baylor

3. Bill Snyder, Kansas State

4. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State

5. Gary Patterson, TCU

6. Charlie Strong, Texas

7. Paul Rhoads, Iowa State

8. Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech

9. Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia

10. Charlie Weis, Kansas

Some observations:

  • Athlon prefers coaches who win conference championships. Briles, Snyder, Gundy and Stoops, the top four on this list, have won the past four Big 12 titles.
  • I went back and checked and noticed some interesting changes. Snyder was No. 1 in 2013, but dropped two spots this year (why, I’m not sure; K-State did win six of seven to close out the season). Mack Brown was No. 6 -- the same slot that Strong opened up here. Kingsbury moved up only one spot after going 8-5 in his first season.
  • In the eyes of Athlon, Patterson’s stock is falling. He was the No. 2 coach going into his first year in the Big 12 and was ranked third going into last season. On the flip side, Briles has made the biggest rise in the last two years, going from sixth to second after winning the Big 12 last season.
  • Athlon actually had Snyder fifth in 2012, which is hard to believe. We’re talking about one of the best coaches of all-time, right?
  • As you can see, I have a bigger beef with the 2012 and 2013 rankings than the 2014 one.
  • Kingsbury has the potential to ascend the most of anyone on this list. I don’t know that the No. 8 spot is completely unfair, considering he’s only been a head coach one season. But if he can turn Texas Tech into a Big 12 contender on a quasi-regular basis, he could jump several spots.
  • This is obviously not an easy list to compile. How do you weigh what Briles has done the last five years against what Snyder has the last 25? It’s all a matter of subjectivity.

Mack Brown becoming a Twitter star

March, 20, 2014
Mar 20
Mack Brown has put more time into a few hobbies now that he’s no longer a head coach. We know he’s watching a lot of sports, and because of another new hobby, Twitter, we’ve learned a few of his other interests.

The former Texas coach is developing into a bit of a star in the social networking world thanks to his newfound fondness for hosting late-night Q&As with his more than 59,000 followers.

On his @UT_MackBrown account, Brown has surpassed 2,300 tweets. Now that he no longer has to follow recruits, the 101 people he follows consist of former players, coaches, friends and football reporters.

Brown has stuck to his tradition of posting an inspirational quote each morning, referencing such thinkers as Winston Churchill, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, George Bernard Shaw, Zig Ziglar and Vince Lombardi. It serves as his thought of the day. And on a daily basis, Brown’s Twitter posts are about what you’d expect from an ex-coach who’s still living in Austin and loving Texas athletics.

He congratulated former players Jackson Jeffcoat and James Kirkendoll for receiving their T-Rings, Henry Melton for joining the Cowboys and Sam Acho for getting married.

He’s still following Longhorns sports closely and offering his support to the men’s basketball, women’s basketball and track teams these days. He’ll still retweet the Longhorn Network account from time to time.

Considering the public figure Brown became during his 16-year tenure in burnt orange, it’s no surprise he’s putting in an effort to keep up. He does seem to be enjoying this medium and the networking it offers.

And lately, on the nights he decides to take questions, Brown is open to chatting with anybody about anything. And he can really get on a roll.

On March 11, for example, Brown answered more than 60 questions in a span of about 70 minutes. Considering he does his tweeting from his iPhone, that’s quite the commitment.

His most prolific chat, to date, appears to be the one from March 3. He posted more than 165 tweets over the course of four hours, all in response to questions or comments he received.

That chat came the day after his close friend Matthew McConaughey won an Oscar. Brown’s live-tweeting of the Academy Awards drew lots of attention, too.

In case you’ve been missing out on these Q&As -- and that’s understandable, because you never know when one will get going -- here’s a glimpse of what we’ve learned about Brown during his ask-me-anything chats.
  • Brown does not hunt, nor does he drink coffee or alcohol. He loves to golf but acknowledges “it’s a tough deal.” He would not reveal his golf handicap. He does own six pairs of boots, size 10 .
  • The most common advice he offers to those who want to go into coaching: “Follow your dream.” Brown said the coaches he looked up to were Darrell Royal, Bobby Bowden, John McKay, Joe Paterno, Bo Schembechler and Paul Dietzel. He’s also a fan of Bill Snyder.
  • If Brown hadn’t gone into coaching, he says he would’ve become a lawyer. He says he’s never considered running for state office.
  • His favorite meal is chili. He does prefer beans in his chili, which some Texans frown upon. His favorite Cajun food is crawfish, and his favorite candy is chocolate.
  • His favorite movie is the 1969 classic “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” His favorite McConaughey movie is “A Time to Kill.” Brown did watch the first season of “True Detective,” but he does not watch soap operas.
  • His favorite band is the Longhorn Band. His favorite Beatle is Paul McCartney.
  • He believes Kevin Durant would’ve made a great wide receiver in college had he played football. It's hard to disagree with that.
  • When asked if he would comment on Johnny Manziel, Brown said: “i only talk UT guys.” But he did offer that he thinks Tony Romo is a “great competitor” and that Oregon’s Marcus Mariota was tough to game plan against.
  • If Brown were stranded on an island with three people, here’s who he’d want to spend his time with: Joe Jamail, the Longhorn booster who is his lawyer and best friend; Red McCombs, the billionaire Texas booster; and former President George W. Bush.

And that’s just the fun stuff. He’ll entertain questions about games he coached, offer nuggets about the big moments from his Texas career and all sorts of other football-related knowledge. Or, if you just want to be retweeted by Mack Brown, he can usually help you out with that too.

Brown is no doubt doing plenty of other things with his newfound spare time, but connecting with his fanbase is becoming one of his more popular endeavors. He’s simply out to offer up advice, praise and some honesty.

Why’s he doing this? Because Brown, as he recently reminded his many followers, is just trying to stay true to himself.

Over the next two weeks, we’ll continue to close the door on the 2013 season. Every Big 12 team suffered at least one loss during the regular season, and losses can be as beneficial as wins. In this team-by-team series, we’ll take a look at the best loss of the year for each Big 12 team, including what happened and why it matters.

[+] EnlargeTaysom Hill
Chris Nicoll/USA TODAY SportsBYU QB Taysom Hill shredded Texas' defense, handing the Longhorns a lopsided defeat.
On Thursday, we focus on Texas.

Best loss: 40-21 at BYU on Sept. 7 in a game that opened eyes, not only in Austin, Texas, but nationwide.

What happened: The Longhorns defense watched as BYU rushed for 550 yards and averaged 7.64 yards per carry. Cougars quarterback Taysom Hill had 17 carries for 259 yards and three touchdowns. Texas, which started the season with talk of being in the national title picture, looked overwhelmed, outmatched and ill-prepared in the loss. And David Ash left the game with a concussion, the start of his head injury issues that cut his season short.

Look up worst-case scenario and this Longhorns loss is a prime example.

Why it was helpful: First off it woke up Mack Brown to the realization that a change at the defensive coordinator spot was needed sooner rather than later. Getting beat is one thing, but losing while the defense is lethargic, sloppy and lacking a competitive fire is quite another. Brown fired Manny Diaz the next day and hired Greg Robinson to take over the defense. The Longhorns defense was a different unit under Robinson, who simplified things while allowing UT’s athletes on defense to be playmakers instead of thinkers.

Most importantly, this loss instilled an “us against the world” mentality into the Texas locker room. Carrying the label "Texas football player" meant one thing when they boarded the plane to Provo, Utah, and quite another thing when they landed back in Austin. From that point forward, the Longhorns circled the wagons and focused on accomplishing the goal of winning a Big 12 title. That goal was still within reach on the season’s final day thanks to a 7-1 start to Big 12 play before their season-ending loss to Baylor. The complete turnaround was sparked by this loss.

Revealing stat: 15.24. Hill averaged 15.24 yards per carry against the Longhorns’ defense, the third-highest yards per carry average by an FBS quarterback in a game this season behind UCLA’s Brett Hundley (16.1 against Virginia Tech) and Auburn’s Nick Marshall (15.29 against Tennessee).

Quote of note: “Our game plan and goal and objective was to stop the quarterback and tailback. We did neither. The decision to change defensive coordinators was based on our lack of ability to stop the run, period.” -- Texas coach Mack Brown one day after firing Diaz and hiring Robinson.

Season wrap: Texas

January, 15, 2014
Jan 15
The 2013 season was a long and crazy one for Texas, plain and simple.

It started with promise, with Mack Brown confident the Longhorns could win the Big 12. Then Texas started 1-2, fired a coordinator, won six conference games in a row, upset Oklahoma, suffered a barrage of significant injuries and lost three of its final four, including its regular-season finale at Baylor with the Big 12 title on the line.

A week later, Brown resigned and a 16-year era at Texas came to an end with one final rocky 8-5 season. Here’s one more look back at the Longhorns’ 2013 campaign:

Offensive MVP: RB Malcolm Brown. While WR Mike Davis was named the team’s offensive player of the year, we’re going with Brown because he emerged as the workhorse of this Texas offense when Johnathan Gray went down with a torn Achilles. Brown started the year slow but finished with 904 rushing yards and surpassed 100 five times, including in critical victories over Oklahoma and Texas Tech.

Defensive MVP: DE Jackson Jeffcoat. The senior played up to his big-time potential, earning consensus All-America honors, the Ted Hendricks Award and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors. Jeffcoat led the Big 12 in sacks with 13 and led the Longhorns in the locker room.

Best moment: In a result that few saw coming, Texas went to the Cotton Bowl and beat up on Oklahoma. The Longhorns attacked on both sides of the ball and won easily, 36-20, over the then-No. 12 Sooners. It was sweet revenge for a Texas senior class that had never beaten OU, and Texas got the Golden Hat for the first time since 2009.

Worst moment: A stunning 40-21 road loss to BYU on Sept. 7. The Longhorns gave up a school-record 550 rushing yards and completely fell apart in Provo in a game that cost defensive coordinator Manny Diaz his job. That loss and coaching change led to another defeat, at home against Ole Miss, which left Texas 1-2 to start the season.

Best and worst of the Big 12 bowls

January, 10, 2014
Jan 10
Below, we break down the best and the worst of the Big 12’s bowl season:

Best win: The Oklahoma Sooners have been searching for a victory that would signal their return to the nation’s elite. They finally got such a victory in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, as Oklahoma smoked the two-time defending national champs from Alabama, 45-31. With tons of young talent returning, notably quarterback Trevor Knight and linebacker Eric Striker, the Alabama victory could propel Oklahoma toward a national title run in 2014.

Worst loss: Baylor had a chance to put the finishing touches on a fabulous season. Instead, the Bears lost to UCF, one of the biggest underdogs in BCS history, 52-42 in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl as the conference champion Bears ended their season on a sour note. It was still a great season for Baylor, yet one that didn’t end so great.

Best offensive performance: Texas Tech’s Davis Webb and Kansas State’s Jake Waters and Tyler Lockett were all terrific, but nobody had the bowl game Knight did. Oklahoma’s redshirt freshman quarterback completed 32 of 44 passes for 348 yards and four touchdowns. He did have one interception, but even that pass bounced off his receiver’s hands. Those would be great numbers against anybody, and Knight didn’t produce them against just anybody. He produced them against Alabama.

[+] EnlargeEric Striker
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesOklahoma's Eric Striker dominated Alabama in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
Best defensive performance: Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker was an absolute menace in the Sugar Bowl. On top of a team-high seven tackles, he sacked Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron three times and forced a fumble in the game’s final minute that sealed the victory. Striker was virtually unblockable all night.

Best special teams performance: Texas Tech dominated most of the National University Holiday Bowl. But the game became tense early in the third quarter when Arizona State scored on a 44-yard run to cut Tech’s lead to 27-20. Those tense moments lasted for just moments. That’s because Reginald Davis returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, putting the Red Raiders back up by two scores. Arizona State never threatened again as the Red Raiders cruised to a 37-23 upset victory.

Best play: With just a minute to play, Alabama got the ball back at its 18-yard line with a chance for game-tying touchdown drive. Instead, on the first snap, Striker came barreling around the edge and crashed into McCarron’s blind side. The ball popped to the ground, and defensive end Geneo Grissom scooped it up and rumbled eight yards for a game-clinching touchdown. It was Oklahoma’s seventh sack of McCarron.

Worst play: The Big 12 had a similar play go the other way. Down 34-31, Oklahoma State drove into Missouri territory with a chance of – at worst – lining up for a game-tying field goal. Instead, the Cowboys called a pass on third-and-7, and before quarterback Clint Chelf could unload the ball, he was sacked from behind by SEC defensive player of the year Michael Sam, who knocked the ball loose. Missouri’s Shane Ray gobbled up the fumble and raced 73 yards for the touchdown, as the Tigers won the game 41-31.

Best catch: On second-and-goal from the Michigan 8, Kansas State wideout Tyler Lockett was lined up across from Michigan cornerback Raymon Taylor. Lockett drove right into Taylor, then looked back to quarterback Jake Waters. The ball came sailing low, but Lockett went down to get his hands under the ball before it touched the ground, giving him his third touchdown catch of the game and putting K-State ahead 21-6.

Worst play-calling: The Cowboys were just 9 of 22 on third down against Missouri, and curious play-calling from offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich seemed to be a big reason why. Twice on third-and-3, Yurcich called running plays up the middle, which Missouri’s powerful defensive line stuffed to snuff promising Oklahoma State drives. Yurcich called another running play up the middle on third-and-1 at the end of the quarter, which the Tigers obliterated again. With the Cowboys defense dominating Missouri through the third quarter, Oklahoma State missed an opportunity to take command of the game. Third-down play-calling was a big reason why.

Best bounce-back performance: The Texas Tech defense had capitulated during a five-game losing streak, giving up 38, 52, 49, 63 and 41 points. But finally healthy again, Tech bucked up in the National University Holiday Bowl, holding Arizona State to 18 points below its season average.

[+] EnlargeArt Briles
Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesArt Briles and the Baylor defense had a nightmarish evening in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
Worst disappearing act: Baylor had claimed its defense was actually the best in the Big 12. But in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, the Bears were lit up by UCF for 52 points and 556 yards. UCF had six touchdown drives of 75 yards or longer, the most long drives Baylor gave up in a game all season.

Best quote: “So much for the big bad wolf, huh?” – coach Bob Stoops, after Oklahoma defeated the two-time defending national champion Crimson Tide.

Worst official’s call: With the AT&T Cotton Bowl knotted at 24-24 in the fourth quarter, Oklahoma State cornerback Tyler Patmon appeared to have delivered the play of the game. He stepped in front of Missouri's Dorial Green-Beckham to intercept James Franklin’s pass and returned it 37 yards into the end zone. Officials, however, flagged Patmon with pass interference – a ticky-tack call at best on Patmon, who on replays appeared to be going for the ball. With new life, Missouri capitalized to drive for a field goal, and the Tigers eventually won the game.

Best fan showing: The Longhorns didn’t have the kind of season they had hoped for. But in Mack Brown’s final game, burnt orange filled the Alamodome, turning the Valero Alamo Bowl into a sellout. The bowl game didn’t go the way the Longhorns had hoped, either -- a 30-7 loss to Oregon. But Texas fans sent out their coach in a classy way.
AUSTIN, Texas -- On the eve of his first full day as coach at Texas, Charlie Strong picked up the phone and did a smart thing. He called Mack Brown.

Strong made sure Brown knew the former Texas coach would always be part of the Longhorns program and is always welcome. Brown offered his praise and support. And he respectfully and firmly drew the line.

[+] EnlargeCharlie Strong
Erich Schlegel/Getty ImagesNew Texas coach Charlie Strong, who was introduced on Monday, went 37-15 in four seasons as coach at Louisville.
“You ran your program and now I have to run mine,” Strong said Monday. “This has to be my program. [Brown] said it himself, he said, 'Don't try to be like me. You are who you are because of what you've done. Just continue to be who you are.'"

And with that, the baton was passed. The coach carrying it now showed us Monday he’s ready to run with a relentless fervor. Texas players would be wise to follow -- and good luck keeping up.

At his introductory news conference Monday, Strong made it easy to understand why he was tabbed to take over a Longhorns program fresh off its fourth straight season of not-good-enough. He’s here to bring back the edge.

Strong respects the tradition of Texas football. It’s the culture that needs changing.

“The mentality is always going to be a physical and mental toughness,” he said. “You have to build your program on toughness. That’s what all the successful programs do. It’s all about toughness.”

Strong’s move to Texas has been labeled a strange “fit” by national pundits, essentially because a man who values privacy and cares more about coaching football than being The Football Coach is signing up to live in one of the sport’s most oversized fishbowls. How is he going to feel comfortable?

Comfortable is a word he used just once Monday in his 45-minute news conference, in reference to ensuring Texas players get accommodated to a life led by new coaches. Comfortable is a word those players won’t hear much after their initial meeting with Strong.

The players are in for an offseason of uncomfortable, in the best way possible.

Tough and toughness are words Strong used 11 times. He admits he still knows very little about the players he’s inheriting, and they won’t return to campus for another week. But they better know what they’re in for.

This is a man with a plan and a rigorous standard. This is the guy who’s going to give Texas football the kick in the pants it needs if it wants to be great again.

“It's about the attitude,” Strong said. “The attitude they develop will be the attitude that's going to change this program. They have to develop the right attitude.”

That attitude won’t be optional. The Longhorns who care about winning championships will separate themselves. The ones who aren’t serious will be exposed.

It’s that “fit” that matters if Texas will succeed in its first year under Strong: Getting players to buy in to Strong’s brand of football and finding more who share his hunger.

As he proudly put it Monday: “We will work like it’s fourth-and-inches.”

Finding a passionate coach who’s excited to rebuild a juggernaut wasn't a difficult job for athletic director Steve Patterson and president Bill Powers, and members of the search committee admitted Monday there were several coaches who checked most of the boxes of the criteria they sought.

Strong was the one, they say, who has it all.

“We wanted somebody who was bright and an ethical leader, somebody who was physically and mentally tough, somebody who could really recruit and evaluate talent,” Patterson said. “Then once that talent is here, somebody who is a great coach and teacher who can really help our young football players grow both on the field and off.”

Strong says he believes the right foundation is in place at Texas, though you know he’ll take time to inspect it. What he’ll find is potentially great talent that has, on the whole, underperformed and lacked consistency in Brown’s final seasons.

In Dec. 2009, Strong held his first team meeting at Louisville after landing the head job. That meeting became infamous.

Strong reportedly tore into his new team. Their standard both on the field and in the classroom wasn't high enough. He demanded trust. He laid down the law.

The result? He got their attention and earned their respect. He built up a program in his likeness, full of toughness and grit. He’s ready to build another at Texas.

“The bricks are there,” Strong said. “I just need to put another brick on top of it.”

And if he's really as good as they say, in time, these Longhorns will run through a brick wall for him.
The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: Texas’ hire of Charlie Strong could help the Longhorns open up new recruiting territories, but it will also be important for him to hire assistants who have ties to the Lone Star State. Louisville’s top 25 class is very much in flux after Strong’s departure.

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AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas needed a head coach who wins and wins big. Athletic director Steve Patterson had admitted that from the start of his three-week search to replace Mack Brown.

Patterson has found a coach in Charlie Strong who has done just that.

The next head coach of the Longhorns comes to Austin armed with more than three decades of experience and perhaps just what this program has been missing. Agreeing to leave Louisville wasn’t easy for Strong, hence this long and arduous weekend, but he couldn't turn down the opportunity that Texas offers.

[+] EnlargeCharlie Strong
AP Photo/Timothy D. EasleyIn Charlie Strong, Texas will get a national championship winner, a tenacious recruiter and a coach who will bring toughness and discipline to the Longhorns.
How he’ll fit at Texas, in a job that’s both richly rewarding and unusually challenging, can’t be answered today. But what we know most about Strong, the trait he’s worn on his sleeve everywhere he has gone, is how hungry he is to succeed.

Strong came to Louisville as a defensive mastermind after helping lead Florida to two national championships in eight seasons. He coached 13 All-American defenders, six first-round draft picks and multiple top-five scoring defenses.

Yet for all those years of success, Strong was repeatedly passed over for head-coaching jobs. At age 49, he finally got his chance to be a head man after 27 years in the business.

"I just wanted somebody so hungry he would crawl here,” Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich said when he hired Strong, “and there's no doubt he would crawl here.”

Strong was just as hungry to reward Jurich’s faith, and he certainly did that. Louisville won two conference titles and three bowls in his four seasons at the helm, went a combined 23-3 in his last two years and upset No. 3 Florida in last year’s Allstate Sugar Bowl.

Strong, now 53, nearly moved on to Tennessee a year ago. Jurich persuaded him to stay. Now he’s ready for the big stage and his biggest job yet.

A respected recruiter, Strong has wisely hitched his wagon to recruiting Florida, especially Miami, where he found Teddy Bridgewater and more than a dozen other current Cardinals. Two-thirds of his 2013 roster came from in-state and Florida talent.

His recruiting chops will be put to the test in Texas, a state where he has few ties. He spent one year coaching in this state -- as a Texas A&M grad assistant in 1985 -- and had no Texans on this season’s Louisville roster.

Establishing a new pipeline in Florida would be a significant breakthrough for this program, but Texas also needs a coach who can keep up with Kevin Sumlin and Texas A&M and regain control of the Lone Star State.

That’s just one of many tall challenges facing Strong and his staff, but in his four years at Louisville he proved adept in an area Texas has struggled with in recent years: player development.

Strong won 12 games this season with a starting lineup featuring 13 former three-star recruits and eight two-stars. Bridgewater, who has emerged as the potential No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft, was one of just two four-star starters.

Marcus Smith signed as a three-star wanting to play quarterback and became an All-American defensive end. Six more of the former three-stars and a trio of two-stars earned all-conference honors last month.

And by all accounts, the Cardinals players revered Strong. He’s known as a tough, fiery disciplinarian with high standards, and that might be just what this program needs now.

Still, this hire is guaranteed to come with second-guessing. It’s Texas. A big job comes with bigger scrutiny.

No matter how the Texas fan base feels about Strong, it wants to know why the Longhorns didn’t wait for Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, or why Baylor coach Art Briles never interviewed. Those were a few of the perceived Plan A candidates, and some pundits will argue that Texas didn’t make a splashy megahire. But Patterson won’t care what gets said this week. He has served as athletic director for 40 days and knew he was staking his reputation at Texas to whomever he selected.

We don’t know whom Strong will bring with him to Austin or who will comprise his first staff. We don’t know what offense he’ll run. But we do know he’ll inherit plenty of talent, endless resources and far greater expectations.

For better or worse, Strong has more in common with Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops than Mack Brown. If Patterson was concerned about finding a coach with a reputation for being excessively media-savvy, as Brown was throughout his tenure, the AD would’ve gone in a different direction.

Instead, it seems safe to say that Patterson cared much more about the other side of a “fit”: a proven, tested and respected success. A coach who’s a winner and a program changer.

That’s what Texas needed above all else, and winning is the best thing Strong can do to assure a divided fan base that he’s the right choice.

What Texas should seek in next coach

January, 3, 2014
Jan 3
AUSTIN, Texas -- If Texas truly is the No. 1 coaching job in college football, we're about to find out what that means.

[+] EnlargeSteve Patterson
Erich Schlegel/Getty ImagesNew Texas athletic director Steve Patterson has a high-profile coaching vacancy.
With no obvious front-runner at the moment, and athletic director Steve Patterson keeping as quiet as possible, there's still plenty we don't know about what the Longhorns are looking for in their search to find the next Mack Brown.

But we do know the criteria that matter to Patterson and Texas president Bill Powers. At Brown’s resignation news conference last month, Patterson laid out some of what he's seeking.

“I think you have to be good with the press, you have to be able to recruit, you have to be able to understand what a big-time college football program is about,” Patterson said. “You're going to be under a lot of scrutiny. You've got to win and you've got to win big.

“You have to graduate your student-athletes, you have to take real classes. You've got to mentor them, you've got to recruit the right kind of folks. You're not going to necessarily have all of those requirements at some other schools out there.”

And so, we started crunching the numbers and comparing resumes. No matter whether you think Texas is down to 10, five or two candidates, the public speculation over who’s interested and available has created a long, long list of potential candidates worth considering.

We’ve trimmed that list down to 25 big names. Some of these coaches have already said publicly they’re not interested. But chances are good that, by Jan. 15, one of these 25 will be the next coach of the Texas Longhorns.

Comparing the candidates

A few trends to consider among these coaches, just to give a better sense of how loaded the field might be for Patterson and his committee:

  • Of these 25 coaches Texas could consider, 21 have BCS conference head coaching experience, 19 have won at least one division or conference title, and 16 have led programs to BCS bowl games.
  • The coaches on this list have an average of nearly 20 years of college coaching experience, and 21 of them have a 10-win season on their head coaching resume.
  • Only seven of these coaches have experience coaching in Texas at any level: Art Briles, Gary Patterson, Les Miles, Will Muschamp, Nick Saban, Charlie Strong and Mike Gundy. Briles (Rule), Gus Malzahn (Irving) and Mark Dantonio (El Paso) were born in the state.
  • Need an elite recruiter? You’ll find plenty on this list. Of these coaches, 13 currently have top-25 recruiting classes, according to ESPN, and based on past recruiting data, as many as 14 have a track record of averaging top-25 classes.
  • Grades and integrity matter to Powers, and 16 of these 25 coaches have APR grades surpassing 950. The national average is 949. At least 18 of the 25 have a clean resume from an “integrity” standpoint. Realistically, though, that’s a subjective matter that should be left to the vetting of the search firm and committee.

It’s a strong group and Patterson has plenty of appealing options. But data on paper isn’t everything. This information helps build reputations and will land some candidates interviews.

What you can’t put on paper might be the most important factor: Fit.

Former Big 12 interim commissioner and Big East commissioner Chuck Neinas has run an executive search firm since 1997 and aided in the hires of Brown, Bob Stoops, Mark Richt, Miles and countless other head coaches. He’s a strong believer in the importance of finding comfortable fits between coach and institution.

“I’ve never been in an interview process where they bring in the board and say, ‘How do you diagram blocking a zone blitz?' " Neinas said. “They’re looking for leadership. You just work it out, spend time and see what interaction there is and hopefully be able to judge how everyone is going to work together.”

What makes a successful hire

To get more background, we also analyzed the 25 best college coaching hires of the past five years. What did these successful coaches have in common?

Four trends stood out. The majority of these coaches shared the following traits:

  • A total of 21 of 25 had more than 10 years of college experience as head coaches or assistants.
  • Surprisingly, 18 of the 25 had never held a BCS conference head coaching job prior to being hired.
  • Of the 25, 16 were in their 40s, and 16 had backgrounds as offensive coaches.
  • Only 16 of the 25 had been head coaches in the past, but 13 of those 16 already had won at least one division or conference title.

For nine of these schools, hiring a coordinator instead of a head coach paid off big. Five of those coordinators were in-house and promoted, and the strong majority of those were on offense. Five of the 25 best hires were of coaches who had taken off the previous season.

Texas isn’t looking to hire a coordinator to replace Brown. Patterson rightfully wants someone who’s already won big. It’s worth noting that only four of these coaches (Urban Meyer, Brian Kelly, Rich Rodriguez and the rehired Bill Snyder) already had led programs to BCS bowl games.

But here’s what matters: Five new hires in the past five years have led their programs to the BCS title games.

Finding a coach who meets most of Patterson’s criteria won’t be difficult. Finding one who can lead the Longhorns back to national-title contention is the reason Texas is searching in the first place.

Big 12's lunch links

December, 31, 2013
The final day of 2013 is upon us. Here's the latest from the Big 12.

Valero Alamo Bowl: Three thoughts

December, 31, 2013
The Mack Brown era ended with a thud on Monday, as Texas fell to Oregon 30-7 in the Valero Alamo Bowl. Here are three initial thoughts from the game:

1. This is why Brown had to leave: It was a bummer that Brown’s last game had to go this way. But the truth is, too many games like this the past four years are why Brown had to resign in the first place. The Longhorns played hard and played tough. But Oregon’s elite talent simply outclassed Texas’ elite emotion. There was nothing stunning about Monday’s result. Frankly, Oregon could have won this game by a larger margin had it not continually self-destructed in the red zone. This is who Texas has been since the 2009 national championship game. And it’s why the time for a change had come.

2. Texas’ QB woes have got to be solved: The first order of business for Brown’s replacement will be finding an answer at quarterback. That won’t be easy. The Longhorns are in woeful shape in the position, underscored by Monday’s showing. Senior Case McCoy threw for more interception yards to the other team for the second straight game than he did yards to Texas receivers. McCoy was pulled for true freshman Tyrone Swoopes, who didn’t fare any better with one completion in six attempts. Poor quarterback play is the biggest factor in Texas’ demise the past four years. And the cupboard isn’t exactly full in 2014, either. David Ash’s football future remains in question after all his concussion issues. Swoopes is athletic with a big arm, but he has to show a lot more to prove he’s the long-term answer. Who knows, maybe the answer is Jerrod Heard, the No. 6 dual-threat QB recruit in the country, who will be in Austin next fall. Either way, that will be something Texas’ new coach will have to address. And until it is addressed, the Longhorns will have a difficult time returning to the lofty perches of the Vince Young and Colt McCoy days.

3. The eyes of Texas now all turn to the coaching search: Now that Brown’s final game has come and gone, the attention on Texas’ coaching search will ramp up another notch. Texas athletic director Steve Patterson said Monday he wants to have a coach in place within two weeks. Which direction will Patterson go? The Longhorns have reportedly vetted Louisville’s Charlie Strong, Baylor’s Art Briles, Vanderbilt’s James Franklin and Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher. Any one of those four coaches would be capable of success in Austin. But this is an important hire for the Longhorns. And one that not only will define Patterson’s tenure, but chart the course of Texas football for the next decade.

SAN ANTONIO -- The final moments of Mack Brown’s career at Texas were neither triumphant nor tearful. Just quiet.

He walked off the Alamodome field surrounded by noise but not saying a word. He gathered his team for his final locker room speech. And one hour later, he was gone.

He left the building as Texas’ former head coach, his hellish 16th season finally complete with a 30-7 loss to No. 10 Oregon in the Valero Alamo Bowl. And there was unmistakable finality to this.

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Soobum Im/USA TODAY SportsMack Brown congratulates QB Case McCoy after a first-half TD, but little else went right for Brown and the Horns in his final game as Texas coach.
He lost his last game in burnt orange in many of the same ways Texas lost four other games in 2013. His quarterbacks struggled, a slim margin of error killed by two interceptions for Oregon touchdowns. The run game couldn’t win all by itself. The defense fared admirably but couldn’t shut down Marcus Mariota.

“I thought they tried as hard as they could tonight,” Brown said. “We played a really good football team. I thought that quarterback looked like one I saw play for us a while back.”

A once-great program that now has no on-field identity and few discernable advantages lost to a powerhouse. This, quite simply, was why Brown’s time is finished.

Much of the fan base bolted to the exits in the middle of the fourth quarter. Those who stayed did so to chant and clap for their coach.

When it was over, Brown did what he always did: He walked to the sideline and threw up the horns as “The Eyes of Texas” blared. As the cameras and reporters engulfed him, he could barely see the band.

A few players lingered to hug Brown and the woman they called Miss Sally. A sea of cameras clicked and flashed. Brown and his wife were surrounded. Slowly they made their way, arm in arm, to the exit, throwing up the horns again to an admiring orange crowd above.

While balloons dropped and the Ducks reveled, Mack and Sally Brown began their long, slow march to the end. Their coaches, players and reporters followed, through a concrete hallway and uncomfortable silence.

They found the home locker room, the crowd so large it spilled into the halls, leaving some Longhorn players stuck on the outside. They seemed too despondent to care.

Brown’s final speech began, his words soft enough to not reach the hall.

At 9:09 p.m. CT, he was done. The clapping inside the locker room lasted no more than 15 seconds. Secondary coach Duane Akina frowned as he trudged in late.

The locker room doors closed a minute later. Retired athletic director DeLoss Dodds was the first out, with a sigh and a brisk walk toward the exit. Then David Ash left. Case McCoy and Malcolm Brown headed off to interviews. Sally led Mack off to join them five minutes later. The staffers they passed along the way offered meek thank-yous.

Brown said he was disappointed. Defense played great. Offense couldn’t move the ball. Kids fought hard. He had few regrets.

“I told them tonight, the only regret I had is we didn’t win enough games this year,” Brown said. “We didn’t win as many games as we had good players. A lot of great players are coming back. New energy, new staff, new ideas will really, really help these kids.”

The reality that he’s no longer the coach hasn’t sunk in yet. He joked that he might wake up at 6 a.m. Tuesday and review film. Finding his new normal will take time.

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Max Olsen/ESPNAs Mack Brown and his wife, Sally, drove off after Texas' loss in the Alamo Bowl, what's next for both Brown and the future of the program he guided for 16 seasons remains uncertain.
No more questions. He stood, said thanks and walked back to the locker room. Players began filing out, grabbing sandwiches before hitting the buses. Assistant coaches came out and hugged their families.

As her husband packed up, Sally perused the halls greeting and hugging anyone she recognized. Brown eventually emerged, a young grandson named Mack in his arms, flanked by more family. His face was red, his smile forced.

His final hour was up. Time to go. Where they’re headed, they don’t know.

“We’ll take a nice trip somewhere warm,” Sally told a reporter, “and figure out what’s next.”

She was ushered off and rejoined her husband on the way out. He was finally outside, but stopped one more time to pose for pictures with fans. He threw up the horns. He’ll have to do these the rest of his life, no matter where he goes.

A few more hugs, a few more handshakes. Brown always had time for those. Then, just after 10 p.m., he slipped into the front seat of a taupe Audi A8 parked near the exit.

Sally, his passenger, offered one more wave before rolling up her window.

And then they drove away, just the coach and his wife, off into the dark.

Valero Alamo Bowl roundtable

December, 30, 2013
Pac-12 reporter Kevin Gemmell and Texas reporter Max Olson break down the biggest storylines in Monday’s Valero Alamo Bowl matchup featuring Texas and No. 10 Oregon:

How do you think Mack Brown's resignation affects this game?

Max Olson: Throughout the past few weeks, Brown has stuck to the same message publicly: Texas players should win this game for themselves, not for their coach. They’ve had a brutal season, overcome plenty and have a chance to cap it with a ninth win and a few good memories. Brown keeps saying he wants this to be about the kids, not him.

What we’ll get out of kids, though, I just don’t know. They’ve been big underdogs before. They came out firing against Oklahoma and built real momentum. They held Baylor to 3 points in the first half but ran out of gas. Which Texas team shows up Monday? They’ll need plenty of motivation and good fortune.

Kevin Gemmell: My first thought was that this was going to be a huge motivation advantage for Texas -- and I’m a big believer that the bowl season is all about which team is motivated to be there. But I think the recent news that Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti is also retiring balances things out in the Oregon locker room. While he’s not as big of a name nationally as Brown, he’s as much an Oregon institution as Brown is to Texas.

Both pregame speeches will be rousing. Heartstrings will be tugged. But ultimately it comes down to what happens on the field. If Oregon is able to set aside its disappointment of not being in a BCS game, then who is coaching on which sideline shouldn't matter because on paper Oregon is the stronger team.

What should be expected of a 100-percent healthy Marcus Mariota?

Gemmell: For starters, an extra element to the Oregon offense that makes them that much tougher to stop. Consider Mariota in the first seven games of the season before his knee injury. He averaged 70.4 rushing yards per game and scored nine touchdowns -- including at least one rushing touchdown in all seven games. Since hurting the knee against UCLA, he’s averaged just 17.8 rushing yards with zero rushing touchdowns.

He also threw four interceptions in the final two games after going pick-free for the first 10, so aside from his rushing abilities -- which are substantial -- his throwing mechanics should be much stronger. I’m of the belief that when he’s 100 percent healthy, Mariota is the best football player in the country. And if Texas gets a 100 percent Mariota, he’s going to be very, very difficult to stop.

Olson: Mariota is one of the many reasons why this is just not a good matchup for Texas, especially considering its defense has had legitimate issues defending the option against mobile quarterbacks. Of quarterbacks who started the last two seasons, nobody in the country has a better Total QBR than Mariota at 89.0. He’s the real deal. I fully expect him to put up big numbers in the Alamodome, and it’ll be interesting to see how Texas defends him, probably with Jackson Jeffcoat reprising his freestyle “spinner” role.

Who will be the key player in this game?

Olson: If you’ve been following this Texas team, you know the key isn’t getting a huge performance from Case McCoy. Yes, he needs to play relatively mistake-free and hit on the big passes when they’re there. But Texas doesn’t stand a chance in this one without a big night from Malcolm Brown.

The San Antonio native had rushed for 421 yards in the four games since Texas lost Johnathan Gray, including 118 in the first half against Baylor. He did a terrific job of hitting cutback lanes against the Bears, and run defense hasn’t been a strength for Oregon. Brown needs to get rolling or Texas could fall behind quickly.

Gemmell: Take your pick from any number of superstars on both sides of the ball for Oregon. Be it Mariota, Josh Huff or Byron Marshall. Defensively, cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is as lockdown as they come. But the guy who always seems to show up in the postseason is De’Anthony Thomas.

Last season against Kansas State in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, he returned the opening kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown, caught four balls for 60 yards and a score and rushed twice for 15 yards. In the 2011 Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio, he carried twice for 155 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Wisconsin. He also caught four balls for 34 yards and returned five kicks for 125 yards. Thomas is a big-game player with blazing speed and scary elusiveness. When he’s hitting on all cylinders, he’s a difference maker.

Valero Alamo Bowl preview

December, 30, 2013
No. 10 Oregon and Texas face off Monday (6:45 p.m. ET, ESPN) in the Valero Alamo Bowl in San Antonio. A few key players and matchups to watch:

Who to watch: Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota says he’s 100 percent healthy, and that’s very good news for the Ducks. A knee injury suffered against UCLA in October limited his ability to run in Oregon’s final five games, two of which were losses. Now that he has had time off to recover, expect the Ducks’ high-tempo option attack to be back to full speed. Mariota is coming back for 2014 and has a chance to end his sophomore campaign with a big game against a Texas defense that has proven vulnerable to running quarterbacks.

What to watch: What can Texas do up front to grab control of this game from the Ducks? These Longhorns are capable of big upsets when their offensive line owns the line of scrimmage, and they’re reshuffling to put All-Big 12 left guard Trey Hopkins at right tackle. On defense, defensive ends Jackson Jeffcoat and Cedric Reed must be disruptive, and you could see Jeffcoat play all over the field in a hybrid role. Texas can’t win this game without being the more physical team.

Why to watch: Mack Brown’s last hurrah after 16 seasons as head coach of the Longhorns. Texas has won seven of its past eight bowl games dating back to 2004, and its players want to send Brown off with one final victory, the 245th of his career. When everybody counted them out, Brown’s players rallied and knocked off No. 12 Oklahoma 38-20 in the Red River Rivalry this season. Can the Longhorns pull off another stunner?

Prediction: Oregon 38, Texas 17. Oregon simply has too much firepower for Texas, whose four losses have come by an average margin of 21 points. Retiring Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti gets the celebratory final Gatorade bath.

Farewells not focus of Brown's last stand

December, 30, 2013
SAN ANTONIO -- When Mack Brown gathered his team Christmas night upon arriving in San Antonio for the start of Texas’ bowl week leading up to the Valero Alamo Bowl, he says he issued a directive.

“This is not about farewells,” Brown said Sunday. “This is not about where I am in life. It’s not about where the coaches are in life.”

He would prefer to shift the attention to his players, to their reward for a trying, tumultuous season. Brown says this should be about his seniors’ finale and the challenge of facing No. 10 Oregon.

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Erich Schlegel/Getty ImagesA loose Mack Brown is concentrating on his players and Monday's Alamo Bowl matchup with Oregon, not the circumstances surrounding his resignation at Texas.
But all eyes and cameras will be on him Monday, whether he likes it or not. This is Mack Brown’s last stand, his 16-year career as the coach at Texas down to its final 24 hours.

He goes into his final game as the leader of the Longhorns just as he has nearly all of Texas’ 2013 games, trying to put blinders on and focus solely on one day and one game. That day has arrived.

“We have been totally focused on Oregon,” Brown said, “and nothing else.”

The Ducks are 14.5-point favorites and, at 10-2, probably belong in a BCS bowl game, not matched up with the Big 12’s fourth-best team. On paper, this game shouldn’t be close.

But this Texas team is used to being underestimated and has already been a two-touchdown underdog twice in 2013. The first time came in the Cotton Bowl, in a game against No. 12 Oklahoma that was sure to doom Brown's chances had Texas taken another blowout rivalry loss. The Longhorns took care of business.

The stakes were far greater against No. 9 Baylor in Waco, with a Big 12 championship on the line. Win that game and, well, wouldn’t Brown be back in 2014? Baylor pulled away in the second half for a 30-10 win and a Tostitos Fiesta Bowl trip.

The pressure in those two games couldn’t have been any higher. This time is different. This time, the Longhorns have practically nothing to lose.

In his final bowl news conference Sunday, Brown seemed the opposite of tense. He joked around with Oregon coach Mark Helfrich, offered up a few facetious answers to serious questions and had little interest in discussing what Monday really means for him.

His most telling answer was a sardonic one, when Brown was asked to reflect on what he would’ve changed about the 2013 season in hindsight.

“I would have won all the games,” Brown said. “That would have been the better thought for me if we could have done that. By a lot. Played a lot of guys, had happy moms and dads and happy media and happy fans. That would have been fun. We've done that, and it's a lot more fun.”

The questions about his buyout negotiation and reports that his resignation was forced were, predictably, shot down.

“We are excited about Oregon and Monday night,” Brown said, when his buyout was broached. “So I can't wait. Great week. I said at the first of the week we would focus on these kids and this game, and that's absolutely what I'm going to do. Every ounce of my energy will be doing the best I can do to coach this game on Monday night.”

Texas has won seven of its eight bowl games since 2004 and four in a row against Pac-12 teams, including in each of the past two seasons. Brown has a chance to nab the 11th bowl win of an era that began with a school-record 12 straight bowl appearances.

“We understand what’s at stake,” quarterback Case McCoy said. “We’ll play hard. Coach Brown will coach hard. If we play that way, we take care of the ball, I think it will be a good night for us.”

Brown says he won’t be any more emotional than usual, but the opportunity is unmistakable. After a rough month and a rocky season, Brown gets one more chance to shut up his critics before walking away. He can have the last laugh.

Reality will set in Tuesday. Texas' assistant coaches will go back to hunting down their next jobs. Even though the next coach hasn’t been selected, the transition will begin.

How Brown will spend the first day of his future is anyone’s guess. How he'll spend the final night of his Texas tenure is up to his team.


Strong on Impact of David Ash's Injury
Ash suffered a fracture in his left foot during spring practice and will undergo surgery. With Ash out, Texas is left with three passers for its Saturday scrimmage: sophomore Tyrone Swoopes, walk-on Trey Holtz and converted tight end Miles Onyegbule.Tags: Charlie Strong, David Ash, Tyrone Swoopes, Orange-White Game, spring practice