If booted, Mack Brown will have a lot of coaching mileage left
Posted December 11, 2013
Updated December 20, 2013
If Texas dismisses Mack Brown, which seems possible if not probable, there’s little reason to believe his coaching career is over.
At age 62, Brown basically still has the same energy and love for the sport that he brought to North Carolina in 1988.
As much as many Longhorn fans are convinced otherwise, the guy’s not washed up. He went 8-4 (7-2 Big 12), beat Oklahoma with ease and started 14 non-seniors in most of the games.
But it’s obvious that last week’s 30-10 loss at Baylor put Brown in a corner. Sixteen seasons in Austin, a 158-47 record and a national championship don’t count for much when enough fans want to see a new face and have Nick Saban (age 62) on their holiday wish list.
Brown wants to stay on, of course. All college football coaches want the Texas job, and there’s good reason to believe Saban would make the move.
But if Brown still wants to coach, there are countless programs that could use him sooner more than later. A return to a North Carolina school would be regular coup, but there’s not an opening with Wake Forest’s decision to hire Bowling Green’s Dave Clawson on Tuesday.
The coaching carousel is just beginning to spin, but here are three programs that could use Brown immediately, whether these jobs become open or not.
• Virginia: Mike London, 18-31 overall (8-24 ACC), will get a fifth season to establish something, according to school officials.
But based on the way the program is trending, there’s little reason to predict a sudden about-face. This season’s 2-10 (0-8) record followed a 4-8 (2-6) run in 2012.
Dating back to the height of George Welsh’s winning run in the mid 1990s, Virginia just has not recruited all that successfully in the talent-rich state. London was expected to correct that problem, but his inability to sign and keep skill-position players has turned out to be a liability rather than an asset.
Brown can recruit. He could recruit at Tulane and at Carolina before he landed at a talent-magnet school.
• Tennessee: Butch Jones went 5-7 (2-6 SEC) in his first season and there’s no way to envision the school making a change so soon after luring him away from Cincinnati.
But like Virginia, the Vols aren’t going to make a big, fast rebound until someone can round up the sort of talent Phillip Fulmer and Johnny Majors brought in during during the 20 or seasons between the mid ‘80s and mid ‘00s.
Brown, from Cookeville, Tenn., would close off the state borders while still raiding Texas for a handful of players each season. He’d also re-establish recruiting pop in North Carolina. The Vols currently show four N.C. prep products on their roster, but that total has exceeded a dozen several times in years past.
• Memphis: The Tigers are a mini version of UT, but the school is located in a big market and has fallen far short of its football ceiling for years.
Justin Fuente has gone 4-8 and 3-9 in his first two seasons, and the 1-7 record in this season’s AAC race hardly increased fan interest.
Brown would sell tickets and enhance the program visibility tenfold. Plus with Louisville moving out of the AAC for the ACC, there’s not a clear-cut AAC mountain-king in the foreseeable future.