Mack Brown won't return as Texas head coach, according to reports

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

It's not official, but the biggest coaching search in college football will reportedly be underway soon.

Longtime Texas Longhorns head coach Mack Brown will step down, according to Orangebloods' Chip Brown. Brown would end his 16 years at Texas with a 158-47 record, with 15 bowl appearances, 11 bowl wins (two of which were BCS bowls), and a national championship.

Update: Texas denies the report, and has a meeting on the subject scheduled for Thursday. It's worth noting Texas also denied Chip Brown's report of athletic director DeLoss Dodds stepping down before eventually confirming. Mack Brown himself also denies the reportas does DoddsYahoo!'s Pat Forde reports Brown is still fighting for his job. CBS' Bruce Feldman also reports Brown isn't expected to be back, as does ESPN's Brett McMurphy.

Brown arrived at Texas in 1998 after nearly a decade as head coach at the University of North Carolina, where he led the Tar Heels to three 10-win seasons and six bowl games.

It was at Texas that Brown's career truly took off, though -- by his second season, the Longhorns had won the first of six conference division titles, and regularly battled with Oklahoma for several more. Brown's greatest successes came starting in 2001, when Texas went 11-2. For the next eight seasons, Texas would average 10 wins, making two BCS games and two BCS Championship game appearances during that time. The biggest highlight, of course, was the now-classic 2005 BCS Championship game, where Brown and Vince Young led the Longhorns to a 41-38 win over USC.

The first signs of slowdown began in 2010 -- finishing at 5-7, the Longhorns missed a bowl game for the first time in Brown's time at Texas. Some fans started to wonder if Brown's job could be in jeopardy. Although they rebounded with to go 8-5 in 2011 and 9-4 in 2012, there was a growing sense that Texas was in need of a shake-up, which Brown tried to instill with a variety of schematic and philosophical changes.

The Longhorns would enter 2013 expecting to return to national prominence after returning 19 total starters from 2012's 9-4 squad, meaning that this looked to be the year for Mack. Turn things around and keep the team nationally relevant, and he would have a chance to see 2014 as the Longhorns' head coach. Take a couple of early season losses and his proverbial hot seat would really start getting toasty.

Texas did just that, done in by a defense fell far short of expectations -- unable to stop opposing option attacks, defensive coordinator Manny Diaz was fired just two weeks into the season, and his replacement, former Michigan DC Greg Robinson, fared only a little better. Though the Longhorns would rebound enough to stay in contention for a Big 12 title, they lost 30-10 in the season's final week to hand that -- and the resulting Fiesta Bowl berth -- over to Baylor.

Given all of Texas' struggles in recent years, former players started to voice their displeasure with the direction of the program. Earlier this year, Earl Campbell, a UT legend and Heisman trophy winner, went on local TV and said:

"Very hard [to advocate his ouster] because Coach Brown is a very good man," Campbell said. "I just hope he doesn't stay...he's done some great things. The program, he brought it back, and we don't need it to get run down where somebody has to start all over again."

While many in Austin would feel a bit of relief with Mack gone, football fans across the state of Texas and elsewhere have been pulling for him to somehow keep his job. The folks at Texas Tech and Oklahoma created "KEEP MACK BROWN" shirts, while Texas A&M fans made a "Keep Mack" shirt with a Johnny Manziel "Because we need another 'safety' to play quarterback" zinger on the back.

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