It's very possible that Bill Powers and Steve Patterson know exactly what they're doing. They could have plans. They could be schemers, schemers trying to control their little world.
Public perception paints a picture of anything but.
The outsider's view shows a failed coup of the house of Mack, a fading coach purportedly in the denouement phase of his career. The outsider's view shows a paper-mache house of cards holed up in an ivory tower at Bellmont shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic. The outsider's view saw only bad rhetoric.
What's the perception?
The perception is petty infighting between booster factions that either wholeheartedly wanted Saban or vehemently supported Brown. You know the drill: leaking information to discredit the university powers, comparing its constituent fanbase to a militant terrorist organization, chopping the legs off the team's starting quarterback, worshiping at the Mack alter and triptych. Typical pompous, self-glorifying, billionaire braggadocio an ocean's length away from the mindset of the fans.
The perception is a university president getting his hands dirtily muddled in athletic affairs while fighting local politicos in a state already considered backwards-thinking by national political pundits. Powers gaining the upper hand in the state lege is professedly good for the university academically. But is it good for the athletics program? "I'm proud to be your friend," says Powers to Brown. As if that absolves an 18-17 conference record over the last four years.
The perception is a new-on-the-job athletics director whose money quote is now "when we have something to say, we'll say it." Does that mean he can't make a decision? He won't? He doesn't know how? Or is he simply taking a page out of DeLoss Dodds' "we are the Joneses" playbook? "You'll know after we know. Because, dammit."
The perception is a lame-duck head coach clinging onto his job at the expense of his program. "For the kids," he says. "For the paycheck and a chance to best Coach Royal's all-time wins record at Texas," he means. I am Jack's smirking revenge.
The perception is the top-flight head coach in all of college football using Texas as a pawn. As leverage. You just got Sextoned, Bellmont. The Texas job functioned as a lever. Push the right buttons. Make enough sound and fury, signify nothing, and get your Sexton-represented coach a raise! Thanks for playing, Gus Malzahn! Welcome to the show, Jimbo Fisher!
The perception is an orange-blood media taking blind hacks in the dark and calling it news.is out. Nick Saban is in. A decision is forthcoming henceforth in the coming days. Mack Brown is staying. Mack Brown may still be leaving. Loud noises. 60% of the time, it works every time. Except this time.
The perception is a diehard fanbase disillusioned with its program. At this point, a no-expenses paid trip to the pit of despair sounds like a better idea than attending a Mack-coached football game in Austin. Oh wait, that's reality. Sorry.
The perception is that Texas is a national laughingstock. A house divided. Uncertainty everywhere. Accountability nowhere. It's a program that can't decide whether to fire its head coach. Can't land its big fish. Can't get its network off the ground. Can't win recruiting battles. Can't win its conference. Can't fend off the mighty SEC. Can't fend off the mighty lords of Baylor or plainsmen of Oklahoma St., for warg's sake. An aura of negativity threatens to swallow Bellmont whole.
Now is the winter of our discontent.
What's the reality?
The reality of the past week may never be known. How likely was Saban coming to Austin? Was it closer to the 0% touted by the Alabama media, or 100% as bragged by Texas "insiders"? How close was Mack to resigning, before he reportedly became "enraged" into staying? Has Patterson truly not made up his mind about Mack? How much power has Patterson really been granted? Was Saban even really on his radar? Are there other candidates already in play?
For the rational fanbase, the reality going forward is binary. Mack Brown stays. Mack Brown goes.
Read Scipio's excellent "Blame Bad Rhetoric" piece again. It still applies.
You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.