Mack talks Boise-OU, coach-in-waiting
By David Ubben
The New York Times’ Pete Thamel spoke to Texas coach Mack Brown for a wide-ranging Q&A about the state of his program as spring practice heats up in Austin, and I’d encourage you to head over and check it out.
The two most noteworthy nuggets from the Q&A?
- Brown admits he handled the coach-in-waiting situation with former defensive coordinator Will Muschamp the wrong way.
- He went to bed before his new offensive coordinator called three of the most famous plays in college football history and didn’t see them until later.
Muschamp left to become Florida’s head coach after the season, likely one of only a handful of jobs that could have pulled him away from Texas. But what Brown hoped would add some stability to his program ended up becoming a liability.
“Will and I, when we got into the coach-in-waiting thing, we did it for the right reasons. I did it with [athletic director] DeLoss [Dodds] and Bill Powers because I thought it was a corporate move that kept people in place. It worked for us for two of the three years, we were second in the country and third in the country,” he said. “In retrospect, there really has to be a one-year limit. Will is too good of a coach to stay here, and there’s some question marks that pop up: ‘How long am I going to stay?’ It got to, ‘Mack’s tired. Mack’s old. When is he going to quit?’ I don’t think it works well unless it’s one year, two years max and there’s a set plan in place. We didn’t have a plan. I think that’s another thing that made it very difficult last year. It set up questions on the outside for the kids to have to answer last year.”
That’s no big surprise, and he’s right. It was a good idea in theory, but the murmurs of Brown retiring got louder last season, and if the coach-in-waiting deal hadn’t been in place, I doubt that would have been the case. With a plan, it can work, but the open-ended situation at Texas clearly caused more problems than it fixed. Additionally, though Muschamp left on good terms, he did it with terrible timing for the Longhorns. You can’t blame him for leaving, of course, but doing so on a big recruiting weekend and during an offseason in which Texas already needed to replace three coaches at the time — eventually five — was not what the Longhorns needed.
As for new coordinator Bryan Harsin, you can’t blame Brown. Even I thought the game was over when Marcus Walker intercepted Jared Zabransky to complete a comeback that featured 25 consecutive Sooner points, putting Oklahoma ahead 35-28 with just over a minute to play.
Brown, however, elected to go to bed.
“My son called me and said, ‘What about that play?’ I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ He said, ‘You can’t believe Boise. Unbelievable.’ I said, ‘Chris, what are you talking about?’ He said, ‘Where are you?’ I said, ‘I went to bed.’ He said, ‘Get up, you have to see this,” Brown said.
Boise State tied the game with a hook-and-ladder play that scored from 35 yards out with seven seconds to play. After Oklahoma scored in overtime, the Broncos scored on a halfback pass and won the game with a famous Statue of Liberty play that ended with Ian Johnson celebrating in the end zone, chucking the ball into the stands and eventually proposing to his cheerleader girlfriend on national television after the 43-42 win.
“That’s what I mean, who makes that call? He was 29 years old,” Brown said. “Most people kick the extra point. They went for 2. They had guts and that’s what I want. Greg Davis did a great job here, he did a great job for us at North Carolina. That’s 15 years of some of the best offenses in the country. We’ve been averaging the same number of points as Boise. After he resigned, I decided that I just love what they do and I can’t wait to see it at Texas.”