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Texas’ Victory Over Oklahoma Should Not ‘Save’ Mack Brown

Texas’ Victory Over Oklahoma Should Not ‘Save’ Mack Brown

Oct 13, 2013

AP Photo/John Rhodes

The excitement and release of frustration in the state of Texas was obvious for all to see when the final whistle blew in Saturday’s Big 12 rivalry game against the Oklahoma Sooners. The Longhorns had suffered three straight defeats to their bitter rivals including losing the last two by an embarrassing combined scoreline 118-38. This was a victory that one of college football’s biggest schools needed more than anything. However, it alone cannot lift the pressure from one of college football’s most under-fire head coaches.

Mack Brown is unquestionably a strong head coach. His record with Texas speaks for itself. A national title in 2005 and a national championship game in 2009 highlight a resume that speaks to consistent on and off the field success. Brown has gained a reputation as a fantastic recruiter of the highest profile prospects. The national championship in 2005 was the first for Texas in 35 years. His 154 wins with the school ranks him as the second winning-est coach in Longhorns’ history. Beyond that, Brown is also an extremely likable figure.

Still, none of that can really count in favor for a school with expectations like Texas. The 2009 national championship loss to Alabama was followed by a 5-7 season. Despite regularly ranking extremely highly in terms of recruiting classes, the Longhorns were just 8-5 in 2011 and 9-4 last season. Possibly more importantly, Brown’s teams only managed records of 4-5 and 5-4 respectively in Big 12 play. This is a team that expects to be competitive in its conference at the very least.

Saturday’s 36-20 victory finally showed a defense that could make some critical stops and an offense led by a powerful rushing attack and with enough dual threat to throw off a Sooners’ defense that hadn’t conceded more than 21 points in the first five games. It still doesn’t wipe away a 40-21 thrashing against BYU or a game against Ole Miss where Texas was simply overpowered. Last weekend’s extremely fortuitous 31-30 victory over Iowa State could probably be thrown into that mix as well.

The reality is that for one game Texas looked like the team that their fans, and presumably Brown, expects them to be. That won’t let the 62-year old off the hook if his team limps through the rest of their campaign.

However, the win against Oklahoma does provide an opportunity. Suddenly the Longhorns and in-state rivals the Texas Tech Red Raiders are the only teams unbeaten in Big 12 play. The next three games against Kansas, TCU and West Virginia should be reasonably formulaic leaving the Longhorns with home ties against Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, and a road trip to Baylor to finish the season. The Big 12 title is up for grabs and that would surely be enough to at least give Brown another chance in 2014.

Longhorns’ fans will just be happy to celebrate one big win against a big opponent for today. The significance of this result for Brown and the college’s program in general won’t be fully known until sometime in December.

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