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Texas Football & Road Wizardry Under Mack Brown

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A thread discussion on BurntOrangeBeat got me thinking about this and I did some simple reviewing of the Brown tenure for road games. Thought it was interesting and wondered if anyone here had anything to add, discuss, or attack.

For the purpose of simply looking at the info, you run into a few forks in terms of how people see the topic. Do you count bowl games? Do you count the OU game in Dallas? Do you count Big 12 Title games?

On Bowls

I can’t think of any reason why a bowl isn’t counted as a road game. Sure a healthy percentage of the stands include your team’s people, but you’re honestly going on the road and playing in front of a split, hostile, or indifferent crowd, not unlike an away game. I am curious about how others feel about what a bowl game environment is like for the team.

On the OU Game

This game is unusual in so many ways, and I think that makes it remarkable. It is often treated as an exception by people, even our own Athletic Department. I am not sure I agree with that behavior. That game determines the season, often enough. The environment is also the most intense, electric, and hostile place in college football, especially when one team or the other goes on tilt. I consider it a road game for both teams. I guess I am wondering if people have compelling arguments counter to that as well.

Big 12 Title Games

Texas, to our dismay, has only participated in three of these games during the Brown tenure. The first, against Nebraska in 1999, was a difficult game against a better opponent out for vengeance. The second, against Colorado in 2001, is one of the most painful performances I have ever personally witnessed and scars us all on some level as fans of this program. At a human level, I melted down after this game in ways that still make me and some obese woman in Colorado shutter. I was dead sober and still vomited up hot dogs and nachos near our car in the Texas Stadium parking lot afterwards, out of disgust and depression. A fat Colorado woman shouted at our group whilst a crane was attempting to hoist her into her oversized landbarge. She did this amongst her 3 rotund children and her excessively thin husband. She taunted us from 40 feet away with something to the effect of "Hahahaha!! Texas sucks! You choked!!! We hate your shitty state!!!" eetc. I am not sure what all I stated in response, although her husband attempted to expedite the crane delivery in ways that endangered her physically and she literally broke into tears and muttered that it was "just a game". Apparently not. Anyway, then there is the 2005 bat down of CU to the tune of 70-3. That was cathartic in many ways, from the eventual firing of Barnett that followed to knowing that that glutton was somewhere in the vicinity, probably eating her own hand and a series of concessions from churros to burritos. In my mind, these too serve as road games. Does anyone see that differently?

The Time Period

Whoever started the discussion that carried over to the net, I believe on the radio in Dallas, was supposedly using the last 10 years. I think I understand why, as that’s a round, easy number. Added logic is that 1999 was the first year that Brown’s players were really involved with playing every down at numerous positions. 1998 was a "rebuilding year" if you will. Maybe. I included both sets of data below.

Another way to look at it would be the last 5 years, for similar logic. 5 is a round, easy number that everybody gets. It’s also post-Wazzou Holiday Bowl debacle. That game is often argued as a seminal moment for Brown. I am not sure whether it is or not, although it would make some sense to think about that whole season as a bit of a legitimate learning year for Brown. We got throttled by OU again, which proved that 2000 was not a fluke. Cow Reese was run off. We looked like shit with Mock at the helm and the offense needed some serious philosophical work. Etc. I included those numbers for kicks too.

So, the Numbers, then

Road Record from 1998 (Not Including OU, Bowls, or Big 12 Title Games) = 40-9

Road Record from 1998 (Including OU, Bowls, and Big 12 Title Games) = 54-20

Road Record from 1999 (Not Including OU, Bowls, or Big 12 Title Games) = 39-6

Road Record from 1999 (Including OU, Bowls, and Big 12 Title Games) = 51-17

Road Record from 2004 (Not Including OU, Bowls, or Big 12 Title Games) = 18-3 (losses to KSU in ’06, ATM in ’07, & Tech in ’08)

Road Record from 2004 (Including OU, Bowls, and Big 12 Title Games) = 27-5

What Does It All Mean?

I won’t pretend to have cornered even my own thoughts on how relevant all of this is. It is interesting to me, though. I think averaging a loss on the road per year for 5 years while averaging over 6 games on the road per season is significant. We’re not playing all patsies on those road trips. That includes 5 bowls (3 BCS games), a trip to the Shoe, 5 OU games, a trip to Arkansas, a trip to Lincoln, and 3 Tech games.

I am not sure how much of this production is a result of Brown’s Staff being really good at what they do regarding prep, how much is in regard to talent levels, or how we can expect this year to reflect the prior performance of the past 5 years. I feel like a lot of this can be attributed to having superior talent at the QB level, personally. McCoy and Young simply never crack. Having their kind of presence in the offensive huddle is fundamental to being a great road team on that side of the ball. Defensively, I attribute a lot of the gains to improved coaching on that side of the ball. The past 5 years has shown a road record winning percentage improvement of roughly 26% over the prior 6, which is a big jump considering the record was already good.

How do we generally feel about our ability to perform on the road as a comparison to the rest of the country’s elite teams? Do we feel like we’re going to maintain our high performance level in 2009?

I didn’t have the time to look-up anything regarding other teams, although my guess is that OU’s performance in the recent 5 years compared to the previous 5 might be close to inverted. Florida? No idea. USC? Ohio State? Etc. No idea.

In regard to 2009 on the road, we face Wyoming, OU, Baylor, Okie State, Mizzou, and ATM. We will play at least one more in a bowl and perhaps one in the Big 12 Title game. It will be our biggest test regarding total road appearances since ever if we play in the Big 12 game too. That would be 8* road games. The most we’ve played by my count is 7, in 2005. I hope the results are the same.