Mack Brown was exiting his Texas office just past midnight Sunday, after a spring football scrimmage and entertaining sophomore visitors, when his cellphone rang.
“I’m still here, just leaving,” Brown told his wife Sally.
“Oh, so you’re excited about your job now,” his wife teased.
Hahaha! Mack Brown "excited" about his job. That's a good one, Sally!
Wait. Why is that funny?
The Browns have turned a public perception into a private joke. At 61, an upbeat Brown is trying to bring the program back to where it enjoyed remarkable consistency. From 2001 to 2009, Texas reached double figures in victories every season. A bad year, Brown joked, was 10 victories. A good season was 13 and a berth in the BCS, maybe the title game.
“I laughed when people said expectations were high,” Brown said. “We’re responsible for them.”
Touche, Mack. Touche.
By the way, do you know what other expectation you're responsible for? No? Take a guess.
Well, here's a hint: it involves Texas fans' collective resignation that, every year come October, a certain rival will once again utterly humiliate a certain team you currently coach and make you look like a blundering fool on national TV.
Did you figure it out yet?
Then everything came crashing down in the 5-7 season of 2010. Texas improved to eight wins in 2011 and nine last season, a climb that hasn’t been quick enough for many fans.
Brown dismisses the criticism and could be in a position where he doesn’t have to discuss them much longer.
Criticism dismissed! *gavel bang*
Things may be in place.
And stuff may be in location.
Texas players have combined for 406 returning starts, a total exceeded only by Georgia Tech in the Bowl Subdivision.
Of those starts, 224 have come on offense, where new play-caller Major Applewhite is installing a hurry-up offense and working on coaxing consistency from rising junior quarterback David Ash.
Logic says the defense has to be better after allowing more yards than any other unit in Texas history, even with the departures of safety Kenny Vaccaro and defensive end Alex Okafor.
Ah, immutable logic. That Texas's defense must be better without its two best players is a consequence of the little-known Axiom of Holyfuckingshityouarestupid, derived in the second century BC by the natural philosopher Dipshitoclese.
In an unsettled Big 12, where cases can be made for more than half the teams next season, why not Texas?
Why not Texas? Ergo, Texas. QED.
“We’re back to where we want to be,” Brown said. “Our expectations should be to win every game.”
Of course, Brown expressed similar sentiments in 2010 and ’11.
“It is realistic,” Brown said, “and it wasn’t the last two years.”
See? Mack's rosy outlook this year is credible.
Sure, he was way off the mark when he made the exact same prediction in 2011. And he was completely wrong when he made that prediction again in 2012. But back then, Mack wasn't being realistic. He was just kind of, you know, making shit up. You can't blame someone for being wrong when they're just spouting bullshit.
This year is different. This year, Mack really, really means it when he says Texas will be good again. Really.
Since arriving at Texas, Brown has gone through all kinds of incarnations. There was Salesman Mack, owning recruiting, and Hip-Hop Mack, jamming to songs on his iPod during the 2005 championship season. There was Mad Mack at the end of the 2007 season. Mopey Mack surfaced by his own admission after the BCS title game loss in January 2010.
Now, Motivated Mack seems to be back.
Dammit! Just when I think I have the complete Mack Brown fashion doll collection, Bellmont releases another one.
Maybe it’s the prevailing feeling that great runs at Texas may be over.
Or the perception that Texas A&M has toppled Texas’ in-state recruiting dominance, with coach Kevin Sumlin making rock star-like entrances in a helicopter.
Little known fact: the classic retort "Whatever" was first employed by the natural philosopher Dipshitoclese in 153 BC.
“I probably like building more than maintaining,” Brown said, acknowledging the competitive fire.
Always acknowledge the competitive fire. But never make sustained eye contact. The competitive fire will view that as a sign of aggression.
“I feel like I did when I first got here. I’m working just as hard.”
And your elastic waistbands are working even harder. *rimshot*
As evidence, last month UT held its first sophomore day, a program that produced eight scholarship offers. Brown’s emphasis on the future might be best illustrated by the hiring of Patrick Suddes, 30, from Alabama as his new director of player personnel.
While some big-picture situations are beyond Brown’s control — like the building power struggle between president Bill Powers and university regents — he says he’s not planning on going anywhere.
Quitting is not an option, which is why he and Sally can joke about it.
Yeah. That's real fucking funny. Ha... ha....... ha.............
If anything, Brown said a return to BCS prominence would be extra incentive
“People will say, he’ll walk away,” Brown said. “Hey, it’s fun then.”
Is Coach Brown singing a James Taylor song here, or is he paraphrasing the Kurgan?
Brown and his wife talked late in 2010, when coach-in-waiting Will Muschamp left for Florida, about stepping down or staying the course. Hard decisions and hard work followed.
“We’re about to reap the benefits,” Brown said.
And he really means it this time!