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Texas does not have a rival in Oklahoma. Oklahoma is Texas' nemesis.
If the difference between "rival" and "nemesis" strikes you as merely poetic, kindly allow Brick Top to explain it to you, in authentic nsfw Cockney:
Watch it again, if you need to, but let it sink in: what happened on Saturday was the execution of divine justice, righteous and flawless. No one did this to Texas, Texas did this to itself. For years. Texas deserves to be humiliated, again, because Texas refuses to address its problems. If that sounds like an angry fan reacting to Saturday's game, any of the writers on this site can tell you that a very brief version of this draft has been sitting in the publishing queue for about a week. I put it on hold because I felt that Scipio had written what I was going to write, only better. Then, 63 – 21 happened, and I realized we were watching history happen. If we're lucky, a chapter just ended, so let's review.
Nemesis is the goddess who punishes "hubris," which, although it can mean "pride," there's more to it than that. Hubris happens when a mortal thinks he can experience, or indulge in, anything to the extent that only a god ought. If you are arrogant enough to take lust, wrath, pride, envy, gluttony, to godlike extremes, Nemesis, the daughter of darkness and night, will swoop down and nail your ass. No sense in hating her, you deserved it. You earned it.
Stoops currently holds Barry Switzer's record against Mack Brown, or nearly that (9-5, 9-5-2). Mack needs to win for the next five years straight in order to redeem himself. He's not going to. You know that, I know that, and everyone in crimson and cream is banking on that.
But Mack can't accept it. Right now, he's the pilot of United Airlines 173. In Mack Brown's case, his hubris really is a matter of pride. He cannot accept that Stoops is the better coach any more than Urban VIII could accept his actual place in the universe.
I'll let the wonks explain what happened Saturday in football terms, but they probably feel like there isn't much of a point going over the film. The team quit, and I know why. I don't know X's and O's, but I know people, better than I would like to, and I've seen this before. Texas' players aren't willing to risk life and limb for a program that is a proven loser, week after week.
A given scheme might be a problem, but it is not the problem. Last year, Texas tried to address its problems by radically changing schemes on both sides of the ball. And it worked, for part of a season. Unfortunately for Texas, that part of a season lasted from late last season until early this season. Texas has been measuring its progress against teams like Cal, Wyoming, and Ole Miss for the same reason the porn industry uses petite actresses. Then Oklahoma's righteous infliction of retribution arrives, and all of a sudden the wrong column of the scoreboard is filling up faster than a Kardashian anus. Do not adjust your set. Texas' program really is this poor and has been for a long time.
Transcendent QB talent wasn't the only fig leaf covering Mack's shrinkage over the last dozen years. Senior leadership has, at sadly infrequent times, produced in the locker room the culture and attitude that Mack simply can't. I understand why Mack made an executive decision to avoid contact this off season, and I can't blame him. But I don't have to support him.
Football is still a dangerous sport. Until they change the rules, it seems (to this former band nerd) that you ought to practice like you play. Easy for me to say, I know, but it also seems intuitive to attack the game as it is, not as it might be in a few years. The men in uniform understand the risk, and relish it. The head coach is scared of the sport, and the carryover is disastrous.
Mack was an improvement over Mackovic, but Mack's ceiling was clear to UNC fans back in '97. They told us about Mack turtling up against FSU. Change a few letters, translate it into Hopi, and Philip Glass will compose monotonous music around it. It was a fucking prophecy. Time-lapse photo of Big Tex falling into decay, post-apocalypse, as seething barbarians overrun the State Fair while the Sun. Goes. Down.
Mack's biggest supporters are no longer the people in burnt orange. Mack's few remaining supporters are the ones calling for Manny's head, as if we could appease the football gods by throwing a virgin down a volcano. (Sorry, Manny. As Sigourney Weaver said, "we work with what we have.")
I wanted Stoops in '97. I'm glad we didn't get him, but I liked what I saw. Stoops understands his role as Oklahoma's coach: beat Texas. That's their goal, all year long. When Texas could hardly be bothered to game plan against Oklahoma, Oklahoma was building an entire team around beating Texas, much as an NFL franchise must beat the other three teams in their division by any means necessary. I'll let the football wonks evaluate that statement, but it seems pretty clear to me. You either live for that confrontation or you run away and find something else to do with your time.
But no, Mack has found a third way: lose, spin, muddle through the rest of the schedule. Year after year. We can live in denial. I know that, because we have. But not every recruit, and their mom and their coach, is invested in our denial. There was a time when the best Texas talent went elsewhere. It can be that way again, if we choose.
Oklahoma was able to pound Texas even when they would go on to lose to The Hat at Okie State. We were reduced to rooting for Oklahoma to drop the Bedlam game and the Big XII championship game in order to gift Texas the bowl opportunities to which we felt entitled. Right there, we should have understood that something was wrong with us. Texas is like an obese person wondering if some new food additive is to blame.
The rivalry, such as it is, changed with the formation of the Big XII. Then, it changed again when the Big XII shrank to ten teams. Used to, in the days of the Southwest Conference, Texas could drop a game to Oklahoma and still dream of Cotton. Oklahoma's football machine was safely packaged, along with all the other low-academic schools of the old Big 8, on the other side of a conference line. When the Big XII formed, both programs were struggling, and had been for a while. That's the culture Mack Brown inherited. He never changed it. Stoops arrived and built a program on the premise that if you beat Texas, you can win the southern division, then springboard off the conference championship game and have a good shot at playing for a national title. Trapped between worlds with a madman at your throat for all eternity, like this guy, remember? He's got the right idea. Somebody hand him a clipboard.
Colt and Vince weren't the only things clouding the picture that became so clear to the rest of us before the end of the first quarter on Saturday. Oklahoma had an entire class go bust, had a substantial scandal for the first time in a while, and finally found the limits of their "yes we can too use negative feedback on this generation of athletes" culture when they ran into adversity. But they adapted. Texas has not.
For the second time in three years, the program is in free-fall, the coaches have lost the team, and Texas could very lose every game, even Kansas. Mack attempted a solution, and it has not addressed the problem. Therefore, he is the problem.
Every week he stays, the program digs a deeper hole for the next coach.
I cannot, in good faith, write this without proposing a solution, even though I am not qualified to so much as draw up the Victory Formation on a dry-erase board. So, I'll put myself out there. Twice:
1) Program: Mack goes. Now. Promote the Assistant Head Coach* for the remainder of the season. This will neutralize the faction of boosters who might want him as Head Coach, because there is no way he can win. It's like giving your rival MP the Portfolio for Northern Ireland. Make overtures to Saban and Muschamp. They will decline. Hire Patterson away from TCU, because (a) he's a proven head coach who has (b) done more with less for years, and who (c) might be looking for the exit right now anyway. He's (d) a defensive mind, and hiring him will (e) destabilize a potential conference rival. Finally, he's enough of a wrecking ball that he will have a chance to (f) tell the cigars to stay the fuck out of the way. Change Texas' culture doesn't end with firing Mack Brown, but it can't begin until he goes.
2) You, the fan: If you've got tickets and feel like going, wear white and sit on your hands. Haunt DKR like the ghosts of seasons past, judgmental and unappeased. If you don't have tickets, don't buy any. To any UT athletics event, not until Mack is gone.
If you think idea 2 is a good idea, do it. If you're not sure, pass it on. If you think it's a bad idea, tell me why and what you propose.
* Upon further review, I see that this title has passed to Akina since 2010. But everyone knows who I meant.