Monday, October 10, 2011

Time to Un-Hook 'Em

Mack Brown has made a living off of bringing in some of the nation's best talent by attempting to close the borders on Texas recruiting and keeping the top Texas ranked recruits in house and wearing the burnt orange. He has never been considered the greatest coach, you'll find several more coaches roaming the sidelines on Saturdays with far more talent in the proverbial X's and O's, but there have been few coaches that could recruit against Mack. After Mack retires from the University of Texas he should run for political office. A natural politician, he has a silver tongue, charisma, charm, and can promise you the moon and make you believe he'll deliver on it. But the problem is that what has made Mack's success at recruiting is out dated and no longer sufficient, thus making Mack expendable.

Over the years Coach Mack has locked up the top tier recruits by his philosophical approach of, "Sign 'em early." Mack is enfamous for having the majority of his next year's recruiting class signed by their junior year in high school, keeping a year ahead of the competition. However many of the recruits do not pan out as projected, and who is to blame a 16-17 year old kid for not continuing to progress? Blame it on their genes, work ethic, attitude, or what have you but many do not meet Mack's or Longhorn faithful's expectations. And from what I witnessed in my athletic career, the kids that sign early do stop working as hard as they did before they had a scholarship and their attitudes do become inflated. They feel that "they've arrived." The fruits of their labor came early so doing an extra 10 wind sprints after practice to work on their burst is beneath them, drills are not as important so they glide through them and go through the motions, and anyone, including their high school coach, that questions them, they point at the piece paper they signed as their ticket out and proof I'm better than everyone here. This may be why Texas has not had a power running game or defense the past several seasons. In order to have that you need the biggest and most mature physical specimens with tenacious attitudes, and if you think you can rely on a 16 year old to mature exactly how you expect them to in high school you should give your secret to all the parents of teenagers out there.

Also there are several recruits that get overlooked or do not get a chance of signing on with Texas because they do not mature or get a chance to play until their senior year in high school. And where do those kids end up? TCU, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, and several other Big 12 or Texas schools. That is why all the schools around Texas have improved over the last few years while Texas has been slowly degrading, a fact that has been masked by superior college quarterbacks like Vince Young and Colt McCoy, who could win games nearly singled handedly, hide a poor offensive line and running game, and keep the Texas defense off the field. A coach's success is largely predicated on the skill of his players. A good coach can make an average player an above average player, but like I've stated before Mack's skills aren't on the field, they're off of it. So don't hold your breath that the overrated recruit will somehow find a role and produce solid playing time because Mack "coached 'em up." No, he's already looking for the next junior in high school to replace him two years down the line.

Mack's charisma and charm, which helps him sell his program, nourishes his ability to help push the brand of the University of Texas as a whole, and as head coach of the Longhorns he has a huge platform. Mack has become more than just a football coach, but he's almost like the CEO of big corporation. He is the face of the Longhorns, a figure head that keeps those machines down in the University's basement printing money. With the help and influence of Mack Brown, UT has become the topped ranked university in net worth, passing Notre Dame. They are also the annual leaders in merchandise sold every year. This is why Mack continues to recieve salary raises to keep him among the highest paid coaches, or the highest. But what the President or the Athletic Director of Texas may not see is that they've created a bubble, and if the football team continues it's current down turn in wins the money recieved from merchandise, bowl games, television exposure, alumni, and several other channels will stop flowing in.

Following a 55-17 blood bath to bitter rival #3 OU, and their head coach Bob Stoops, this past Saturday at the Cotton Bowl, Mack Brown needs to be put on notice. The times of having the most talented team that any coach could win with have ended, unless Mack changes his recruiting philosophy, but at his age I doubt it. After last years 5-7 record, where their nation leading streak of 9 consecutive years of a 10 win seasons ended, Mack cleaned house and brought in several new, rising star coaches on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. They provide the "coach 'em up" while he continues to "sign 'em young." It could work but getting beat by your arch rival by over five touchdowns should make you second guess your strategy or the University's decision to retain you.

Here's what needs to happen Texas: make Mack Brown your athletic director or give him some kind of position where he can continue to help further the Longhorn brand (similar to former head football coach of Wisonsin and now their athletic director, Barry Alvarez) , but he can no longer be the head coach of the University of Texas. His time has passed. Thank him for it and move on. Bring in a solid X's and O's coach who has experience, a fiery will to win, and can continue to bring in big time recruits. That is easier said than done, but it is the University of Texas and several coaches would love the chance at landing that dream job. I could think of one coach who fits the bill and is currently available--Jon Gruden, AKA Chucky (for his fiery hair color and attitude).

Gruden could install a pro-style offense, and with his background in the west coast offense in the NFL, he could make it a modified spread offense, much to the likes of Oklahoma's offense (love them or hate them, their offense is ideal for the college football game.) Gruden's name has appeared in multiple conversations in coach vacancies, being linked to University of Miami, Michigan, Oregon (offensive coordinator), and a possible chance at the Ohio State head coaching job if interim head coach Luke Fickell isn't retained after this season. Since his firing as Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach, he has remained in the public eye as a color commentor for Monday Night Football and his QB Camp with prospective college quarterbacks preparing for the NFL combine and draft, which is aired on ESPN before each year's NFL Draft.  He has big name recognition, respective success (a Superbowl ring with the Buccaneers), a no nonsense attitude, and has a great talent in teaching young football players the X's and O's and the nuances of the game. Most importantly however he would give immediate credibility to the new direction of the University of Texas football program. Plus, I'd love to see Bob Stoops face when he looks across the opposing sidelines and sees Chucky.

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