By Chuck Carlton
Dallas Morning News
All signs point to the Mack Brown era ending soon at Texas.
Reports said Tuesday that Brown’s negotiated resignation after 16 seasons and one national title as Longhorns football coach is expected by the end of the week, indicating that Brown might be worn down from the constant rumors and would be ready to leave.
At the same time, nothing has been agreed upon, the reports said.
Speculation immediately focused on Alabama coach Nick Saban and his three BCS national title rings in what would be a blockbuster hire. Current Texas regent Wallace Hall and former regent Tom Hicks met with Saban’s agent last January about a possible move to Texas.
Online reports indicate that Saban has been offered a contract extension at Alabama but has yet to sign it.
For the moment, Brown is still the football coach. He left New York and the National Football Foundation annual meetings Tuesday to fly to Florida on a recruiting trip.
Today, he’s scheduled to participate in a Valero Alamo Bowl news conference in San Antonio.
Brown denied an Orangebloods.com report about his resignation in a text to recruiting website 247Sports.com: “I’m in Florida recruiting. If I had decided to step down, I sure wouldn’t be killing myself down here. I have not decided to step down.”
In a statement, new Texas Athletic Director Steve Patterson indicated nothing had been decided but did not say Brown would return.
“We continue to discuss the future of Texas football,” Patterson said. “Mack Brown has not resigned. And no decisions have been made.”
Patterson and Brown met for three hours Sunday.
The news — or at least the sped-up timetable — surprised many.
Former Texas Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds, who hired Brown to replace John Mackovic after the 1997 season, was with Brown in New York and said Brown did not mention retirement during those two days.
“No one has said anything to me about Mack leaving,” said San Antonio businessman Red McCombs, a major donor to the university and the athletic program. “No. 1, I hope it isn’t true. No. 2, I hope he doesn’t lose any recruits over this.”
Brown’s friend and personal attorney, Joe Jamail, whose name is on the field at Royal-Memorial Stadium, told the Associated Press that Brown hadn’t made a decision to leave.
Brown has actually been a victim of his success for much of his career. He is 158-47 at Texas, the second-most wins to legendary Darrell Royal. But Brown has gone just 30-20 the last four seasons and 18-17 in the Big 12.
After being hired from North Carolina before the 1998 season, Brown’s first year at Texas produced a Heisman Trophy winner in Ricky Williams.
From 2001-2009, Texas won at least 10 games every season, the second-longest streak in major college football behind Florida State. Brown’s 2005 team, led by quarterback Vince Young, delivered Texas’ first national title since 1970 by defeating Southern Cal at the Rose Bowl.
Brown had another chance at the crystal football after the 2009 season. But in the BCS title game, star quarterback Colt McCoy was injured in the first quarter, and Texas lost to Alabama.
Texas fell to 5-7 in 2010, and Brown acknowledged that he had carried the title loss with him into the next season.
After a 9-4 season in 2012 and with 19 starters returning, Brown suggested that Texas was capable of winning all its games this season.
Instead, he fired defensive coordinator Manny Diaz after the Longhorns allowed 550 yards rushing to BYU in the second game of the season. Brown’s hire of Greg Robinson stabilized the defense, but injuries — including to starting quarterback David Ash and leading rusher Jonathan Gray — took a toll.
By contract, Brown would be owed $2.75 million as a buyout.
He also would be offered a high-ranking position at Texas, much like Royal was when the Longhorns coaching legend retired.