Mack Brown's final year in review, from Alamo to Alamo

Erich Schlegel

It's been a tough 12 months for the soon-to-be former Texas head coach. Here's how we got here.

December 15, 2012

One year ago, Texas' concerns are not centered on Brown. Rather, it's everyone below him that presents a problem.

Co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin left to become head coach at Arkansas State just days earlier, and fellow co-coordinator Major Applewhite had been promoted to playcaller and quarterbacks coach. On the defensive side of the ball, coordinator Manny Diaz appears to be looking for a life raft. Diaz put his name in the hat for the defensive coordinator vacancy at Florida State, as well as the open head coaching position at Florida International.

While the Longhorns had just finished 8-4, with two straight losses to TCU and Kansas State at the end of the schedule, Brown has the full public support of Texas president Bill Powers. There had been speculation that Brown could retire at the end of the season, as there had been in the two previous seasons.

December 28, 2012

Two Texas players are questioned regarding a sexual assault at a San Antonio Holiday Inn two nights before the Longhorns were scheduled to play Oregon State. Brown sends the players, later identified as backup quarterback Case McCoy and linebacker Jordan Hicks, back to Austin.

December 29, 2012

David Ash throws two fourth-quarter touchdown passes, the second with just 2:27 left, as Texas rallies to beat Oregon State 31-27 in the Alamo Bowl. With it, Texas improved on its 8-5 mark from 2011, reaching Brown's stated minimum goal for the season.

When Brown spoke to the Alamo Bowl crowd after the game, he was exultant like a political candidate who had just won re-election after a trying campaign. Like a coach who had been to the brink, saw the depths of a terrible offseason and then was pulled back by some pretty spectacular performances in the final quarter. Because that is exactly what he was in that moment, exultant from the depths of his diaphragm.

Brown survived. The team survived.

January 9, 2013

San Antonio police announce that no charges will be filed against McCoy or Hicks. Two weeks later, investigators would officially close the matter.

February 6, 2013

Brown inks a recruiting class ranked 17th in the nation by 247 Sports. The rankings are skewed by the fact that Texas needed only 15 players to fill its roster; previous defections had reduced Texas' 2013 senior class to nothing.

Nevertheless, it's the lowest Texas has finished in the recruiting rankings in the history of recruiting rankings, and the first time that the Longhorns have brought in a class rated lower than that of rival Texas A&M. Stories center on five high-profile decommitments, including five-star defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson. Brown responds by tightening the program's policy on allowing committed players to take visits to other schools.

Recruiting news is about perception. There are so few tangible, immediate results to report that the story becomes vague projections about the future of the program based on the whims of 17-year-old football players. By February 2013, the fans' and media's perception of Texas recruiting have turned against Brown. Robert Griffin III, who played high school football at Copperas Cove, Tex., had won a Heisman Trophy at Baylor. Griffin told reporters that Brown recruited him as an athlete, a claim that Brown denied. The following year, Johnny Manziel won the Heisman Trophy at A&M despite growing up as a Texas fan. Brown never offered him a scholarship.

And with the Heisman Trophy residing in College Station and all momentum behind the Aggies, a 15-player recruiting class was the last thing that Brown needed. This was, in retrospect, the start of the Doomsday Clock.

February 11, 2013

Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds tells Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman that Brown is safe, win over Oklahoma or not:

"Football is fine," Dodds said. "Nine wins are not the end of the world. But we want 13 wins."

Does Brown have to beat Oklahoma to save his job?

"Oh, we don't think that way," Dodds said, aware of Texas' three-game losing streak to OU. "Next year we will be having a different conversation. Look at the programs that made changes: Lloyd Carr at Michigan, Phil Fulmer at Tennessee, R.C. Slocum at A&M. They all had great runs and then two or three average years and have been through two or three coaches since. Mack's our coach. He's the best person we can have in that position."

He also compares Texas to Missouri, which strikes many as hilarious. Unbeknownst to all, Missouri is in much better shape than Texas.

March 7, 2013

Brown hires former Alabama staffer Patrick Suddes as Director of Player Personnel. Suddes would become the top person in the Texas football recruiting hierarchy. It washes some of the taste of Signing Day out of the fans' mouths and lets Texas keep up with the recruiting staff development of rival programs, particularly in the SEC. When Suddes says, "I've got nothing to do but make this right," fans rejoice.

May 1, 2013

Early projections have Texas as the favorite to win the Big 12. In a year where the conference as a whole looks slightly depleted and top-heavy, Texas becomes a default pick.

May 28, 2013

Brown tells CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman that he's in for the long haul:

Thirteen years is a long time. At that point, Sally and I had to make a decision: Are we going to put the energy back into this thing and go full-speed ahead to get it back? Or is it time to let somebody else have it?

She said, "You can do what you want, but you shouldn't back away until you're finished." And I'm really enjoying it. I mean you still have the same fights and the same problems, but recruiting's going really well. I do think we're about to get better. Spring practice was fun. I like what we're doing right now on offense a whole lot, and I like that our defense is having to see what we're doing on offense. I think we're about to be in the mix again. You usually need an older quarterback to win. Our staff's at a really good place. A number of our staff could've left this year, and they all know we're about to be good. So they stayed, which is a good message. A lot of the other schools are telling people that I'm about to retire in a year, so we have to fight that some. They [the UT administration] gave us a unanimous vote for an extended contract through 2020.

Important in that interview was the admission that the program had stagnated in the recent past, and that the influx of young coaches had revitalized Brown for another run at a title.

July 18, 2013

Brown hires former defensive coordinator and Syracuse head coach Greg Robinson as a "football analyst." Robinson is to handle quality control evaluation and oversee self-scouting. Nobody understands what this means, except that it's bad for Manny Diaz.

On the same day, Texas is picked fourth in the Big 12 by the press assembled for the conference's football media day.

August 31, 2013

After a quiet, apparently productive August camp, Texas opens its season against hapless New Mexico State. David Ash throws four touchdown passes and runs for another, Texas generates 715 yards of offense, and the Longhorns romp to a 56-7 win.

September 7, 2013

BYU quarterback Taysom Hill runs for 259 yards and three touchdowns, and Texas' defense gives up a program-record 550 total rushing yards in a 40-21 loss in Provo. This was the same BYU that had lost at Virginia in the season-opener. Needless to say, the fans do not take the loss in stride.

This was a toughness test and the Horns filled in a whimsical petunia on the Scantron.

Gutless, soft, undisciplined, horribly coached, and scared. Those are just a few of the kinder descriptives that came to mind while watching Texas embarrass itself on national television. That's Texas Football after the "rebuild" under Mack Brown. When do we end this charade?

Burnt Orange Nation asks the same questions.

Does [changing the defensive coordinator] alter that or does Texas merely have to wade through what is looking like another disastrous season before assessing the state of the program?

Before DeLoss Dodds asks Mack Brown if he wants to continue coaching and Sally Brown makes the decision again for the Texas head coach.

Compounding the problem: David Ash suffers a head injury in the fourth quarter of the loss. He would barely play again.

Brown joins Lane Kiffin atop the Hot Seat rankings.

September 8, 2013

From the time that Brown made the Greg Robinson hire, the Diaz-Robinson dynamic did not make much sense. At some point, the inherent contradiction of a former defensive coordinator on staff with the current defensive coordinator would have to be resolved.

On the plane home from Provo, Brown resolves the issue by firing Diaz and installing Robinson as defensive coordinator. Whether this is anything but a cosmetic change is up to interpretation, but at least Brown is acknowledging the problem.

September 13, 2013

An Orangebloods report indicates that DeLoss Dodds will step down as Texas athletic director. Dodds, who has been a vocal and consistent supporter of Brown throughout the coach's 16-year tenure, vehemently denies the report.

September 14, 2013

Texas blows a six-point halftime lead against Ole Miss with a scoreless second half, as the Rebels hammer the Longhorns 44-23. It is Texas' worst home loss since the 2010 UCLA drubbing that signaled the beginning of the end for Brown. The Texas defense gave up 449 total yards to Ole Miss, including 272 on the ground. For those hoping that Robinson would prove to be a miracle-worker, Rebels coach Hugh Freeze offers this bucket of cold water:

With any hope of a national championship gone, Brown starts lowering expectations. On first blush, they have not been lowered anywhere near enough:

Fans in attendance boo a public service announcement starring Brown on the DKR Jumbotron. Things are not going well.

September 19, 2013

An Associated Press report says that in January, current Texas regent Wallace Hall and former regent Tom Hicks spoke with Nick Saban's agent, Jimmy Sexton, about Saban taking the Texas job. Hall and Hicks reportedly then met with Brown to broach the subject of retirement. Brown refused to resign, and the conversations temporarily ended. The report has far-reaching political implications, but also undercuts Brown at the worst possible moment. Even the coach's supporters have to admit that getting Nick Saban wouldn't be a bad thing.

September 21, 2013

Texas reverses its two-game losing streak with a 31-21 home win over Kansas State. David Ash returns to throw for 166 yards and a touchdown before being removed for yet another head injury. It's his last action this season. Brown looks relieved after the win.

October 1, 2013

DeLoss Dodds, who had denied even considering retirement just 18 days earlier, announces he will step down as Texas athletic director effective August 31. Texas will immediately begin the search for a new AD, who could be installed before December 1. Whoever that new director may be, he did not hire Mack Brown, and the immediate thought is that the new AD will show Brown the door as soon as the season is over.

October 3, 2013

The new AD almost never gets the chance.

Despite completing a Hail Mary at the end of the first half, Texas falls behind 30-24 with 3:40 left to play in a Thursday night game in Ames against Iowa State. The Longhorns drive to the goal line, but Joe Bergeron fumbles short of the touchdown.

Texasfumble_medium

Or so it looks. The referees call his forward progress stopped before the ball comes loose, and Texas capitalizes on its second chance with a Case McCoy sneak for the game-winning score. Texas goes to 2-0 in the Big 12 with the auspicious win; with the Red River Rivalry looming the following weekend, chances of getting to 3-0 look slim.

October 12, 2013

After a week of "Mack's last stand" stories, Texas annihilates Oklahoma 36-20, ending a three-year losing skid against the Sooners. The much-maligned Longhorns defense allows Oklahoma just 263 total yards and forces two interceptions.

Suddenly, the pipe dream of a Big 12 title doesn't look so remote. In fact, Texas appears set for a season finale against Baylor for the conference title. The heat under Brown's seat gets turned off, if just for a moment.

November 5, 2013

Arizona State athletic director Steve Patterson is named the new Texas AD. Patterson is about as good as Brown could have hoped to get, frankly. He is not known as a coach-killer and is more interested in fundraising and facilities.

November 16, 2013

After defeating TCU, Kansas, and West Virginia -- the last one in overtime -- Texas faces a visit from Oklahoma State to keep its Big 12 title dreams alive. Despite being outplayed for most of the first half, Texas looks poised to take a four-point lead to the locker room.

But Oklahoma State scores on a Clint Chelf touchdown pass with just over a minute to go. With seconds left on the clock, Case McCoy throws a pick-six that elicits this response from Brown:

Macknoo

Suddenly, Oklahoma State is ahead 28-10, and the rout is on. The Cowboys eventually win 38-13, making it the second time this year that Texas has lost at home by 20 or more points. Barring some significant help, the Big 12 title dream is dust. The calls for Brown's resignation begin again.

December 5, 2013

A website that nobody has ever heard of, Football Brainiacs, posts that it has sources indicating that Nick Saban's move to Texas is "a done deal" after the season. Saban continues to deny any interest in the job, which of course means he's completely interested in the job, to some.

December 7, 2013

Screen_shot_2013-12-16_at_8

Despite beating Texas Tech by 25 on Senior Day and holding a 7-1 record in the Big 12, Texas needs some unlikely help to have a chance at a conference title. Oklahoma State would have to lose the annual Bedlam game to hated rival Oklahoma to open the door for a Longhorn championship.

It being Bedlam, the Cowboys do just that, making Texas' evening game against Baylor a de facto Big 12 Championship Game.

Texas' offense never gets on track against the Bears, though, as Case McCoy throws just just 54 yards on 34 attempts. Despite holding up against the Baylor offense for the game's first 30 minutes, the much-improved Longhorns defense cracks. Baylor scores 17 unanswered points in the third quarter, and the Bears are Big 12 champions with a 30-10 win. Brown has won just two Big 12 titles in 16 seasons, a stat that fans love to use as a sign of his teams' chronic underachievement.

December 8, 2013

Texas accepts its second consecutive invitation to play in a bowl game named for the site of a futile resistance. By now, it looks like Brown's resignation or firing is only a matter of time. Brown has a trip to New York City with Steve Patterson scheduled for the day after the game where, presumably, they will discuss how to structure the departure.

December 10, 2013

Orangebloods reports that Brown will step down as head coach, accepting his buyout and an emeritus position with the University. Brown, who is recruiting in Florida, denies the report. Texas denies it, as well, and sets a meeting for three days later. Fans start tracking flights from Tuscaloosa.

December 11, 2013

Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram -- a TCU beat reporter, making him an odd source of Texas information -- tweets that a "source close to the Texas executive council of regents" confirms that Nick Saban will be hired as Texas' next coach. Mack Brown is still Texas' head coach at this time, mind you, and looks hell bent on remaining there, at least for a few more days.

Fueling the speculation: Saban has reportedly been given a lucrative contract extension by Alabama, but has not yet signed the papers, according to Paul Finebaum. Is he genuinely interested? Is he playing Texas for more money from Alabama? And what exactly is the status of Brown? There are no answers from either side.

December 13, 2013

Brown finally has his long-awaited meeting with Patterson and Powers. Just hours after the meeting, news breaks that Saban has signed the extension with Alabama, killing one half of the rumor. At almost the exact same time, news breaks that Mack Brown has reportedly told people he's staying. Texas fans, who have thought for weeks that Brown was finally gone, are apoplectic.

December 14, 2013

It turned out that wasn't the case. One day later, Brown announces his resignation, effective after the Alamo Bowl.

December 15, 2013

Mack Brown delivers his final presser as Texas head coach, praising the university, expressing high hopes for the program's future, and saying, "the standard is set really high here. And I'm danged proud we were a part of that standard." His lawyer, a Texas megabooster, fires up a whole new round of rumors.

And so ends college football's best coaching drama of 2013 and a 16-year stint for one of the best coaches in the history of the program.

Photos: Brendan Maloney, USA Today; Kevin Jairaj, USA Today; George Frey, Getty; Streeter Lecka, Getty; Jerome Miron, USA Today.

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