If Mack Brown returns in 2014...blame bad rhetoric.

Kevin C. Cox

Asymmetric Bayesianism and Choice Architecture meet in a steel cage match.

If Mack Brown is our head coach in 2014, a single game result may be blamed.  Politics may be blamed.  Bill Powers may be blamed.  Internet rumor-mongerers may be blamed.  Agents may be blamed.  Steve Patterson may be blamed.  Big donors may be blamed.

I'll blame bad rhetoric that engenders muddy thinking.  I'll blame the improper framing of the case for a new direction from so many of the people who so badly want it.  I'll blame the inability to persuade.

Much of buy-in, whether in politics, closing that blonde at 2am, or trying to convince your kids to wear a warm jacket, is in how you frame the issue.  The options themselves greatly influence choice, but the architecture of those choices matter.  Limit buy-in or cripple the primary goal with conditional clauses and polarizing single options, and you bind human thinking in cognitive concrete that's nearly impossible to break.

Nick Saban is coming!  Replace Mack Brown!

That is the dominant rhetorical construct right now dominating the media, Twitter wars, and the discussions amongst big donors.  And it's a horrible strategic framing of the issue if you want a new coach.

The proposition predicates action and rallies fence-sitting support solely based on the ability to land Nick Saban.

Except that you cannot control what Nick Saban does.  You cannot control how our administration perceives him. You cannot control his wife, Alabama's efforts to retain him, the agendas of journalists or fans, Wallace Hall's interference, or the advice of Saban's agent.  You may even queer the deal by presenting him as the favored, single option - eliminating his cover and the deniability afforded by other possibilities.

Worse, it also gives psychological fuel to the notion that Mack Brown can only be properly and safely replaced by a man who has won 3 of the last 4 national championships.  You give credence to the notion that Texas - a Top 5 program - can only be well coached by a sure thing.  This isn't just wrong, it's ahistorical. In seeking to replace Brown, you've actually raised and reinforced Mack Brown's profile - his future performance can only be bettered by a legend.

In the current dominant construct, if we cannot land Nick Saban, there is no cause for action.  Even if you badly want Nick Saban to be the next head coach, you're much better off arguing...

Replace Mack Brown!  HERE'S WHY.  There are many options for a better direction, among them Nick Saban.

This framing reminds us that Mack Brown is currently 18-16 as the head coach at Texas in the Big 12 over the last four years (and ISU & KU represent 6 of those 18 wins - he's 12-16 against the rest of the slate), made the Longhorns nationally irrelevant at the most resource rich program in the country, and has a disappointing 2014 recruiting class queued up for signing day.  Set against the larger backdrop of a shifting environment where Texas conference affiliation is seen as second rate - whether through lack of exposure if not future football quality - rival in-state and out-of-state options are increasingly appealing, and the neighboring SEC lays de facto claim to the notion of "big time football."

Given that, and respecting what Mack Brown did to turn Texas around in 1998, will the best future for Texas Football be secured under Mack Brown's continued management?

Yes.

No.

If No, then any competent hire becomes preferable.  Nick Saban is just another good option.  The mandate for action is clear, clean, and logical.  And it is not predicated on the decisional calculus from multiple actors based on one man.  Your ambitions are now within your direct control.

If Yes, the onus is placed on the Brown loyalist to make a thin, mostly fear-based or sentimental case for retention. Seeing its lack of rigor, fence-sitters step over to Replace Brown. The battle becomes Mack Brown.  Just where we want it.  And promises of a brighter future aren't tied to the politics of any one candidate.

First and always, make the case for replacing Mack Brown.  Everything else follows. Securing Nick Saban as the argument for replacing Brown is tactically absurd.  You deserve to lose.  We place our hopes entirely in the hands of external actors.

Blame them?  Blame us.

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