Your coach wins every year, but can't seem to win the big games. He and his staff have done a good job recruiting but still make questionable decisions about who should start -- especially at Quarterback. It seems that every year the team has a "what the f--k" game to an opponent they have no business losing to. Despite a long record of success that is much better than his predecessor, the coach is not fully embraced and lives in the shadow of the school’s past glories and personalities. Having donated big $ for new state of the art facilities, the critics grow more vocal each year and are starting to wonder if the coach will ever take the team to the next level. Sounds like TOB, right? Well it also described Mack Brown before Vince Young’s Rose Bowl heroics. To get the perspective from someone who has been there before, I’ve asked Peter from BurntOrangeNation to tell us how he felt about Mack Brown and let us know how much more rope we should give TOB.
1. First, be honest, how do you feel about Mack Brown today?
BON: Honestly, I can't name another coach I'd rather have. Bob Stoops? Great coach, but he strikes me as a cold prick, and he's slipped on his recruiting. Pete Carroll? I think Hollywood probably ought to stay in California; his loosey-goosey attitude scares me. I could go on and on, but the list of coaches who can do well all the things coaches are asked to do these days -- recruit, manage the program, hire coordinators, win games -- is a thin one, and none are better than Mack. Texas, a school which cares about its reputation -- academic and otherwise -- demands a coach that keeps the school's bright reputation intact. I couldn't be more pleased with Mack Brown as my team's football coach. Honest to God.
2. When did your opinion change?
BON: October 8, 2005. The thrashing of Oklahoma was all I needed. The national title was just icing. Not only the way that we beat Oklahoma (thoroughly, in every aspect of the game), but the way Mack handled himself both before and after, made me proud.
3. How many times over the years did you wonder if he was THE guy? What was the low point?
BON: I always said that it was unfair to talk about firing Mack Brown while he was going 10-2, 11-1, and so on. What I did think was really problematic was the refusal to do anything about our offensive coordinator, Greg Davis, who was frustrating fans with his exceedingly conservative game plans. Something clicked in mid-2004, though – in Mack Brown, in Greg Davis, and in Vince Young. We haven't lost since, and the days of not trusting the players to win the game appear to be behind us. I honestly think that with the pressure off Mack's back, the days of playing not to lose are gone, and the days of playing to win have just begun.
4. Aside from getting one of the best players in the history of the sport, was there any other clear sign of change?
BON: It wasn't just getting Vince Young. It was learning to trust Vince Young. Outsiders don't know this quite as well as the Longhorn-obsessed, but after a lackluster win over a middling Missouri squad in 2004, Mack took the reins off of Vince. He told Vince to be loose and he told Greg Davis to fire on all cylinders. That trust had been lacking in Mack during the Chris Simms years, as well as the early part of Vince's career. Sometimes it takes a transcendent player to get a coach over the edge mentally.
I should also note: with a national title under his belt, the train has left the station and it is UNBELIEVABLE to watch what Mack Brown is doing recruiting, both in and out-of-state. With the Texas kids, everyone stands around, waits for Mack to pick his players, then fights for the rest. I've never seen anything remotely like it. Boston College is probably starting to get out offers to 2007 recruits. The Longhorns have only two '07 scholarships left, and are already prepping their '08 offers.
5. TOB is entering his 10th year at BC. As an unbiased observer do you think he'll ever get BC beyond the 7 to 9 wins and a crappy bowl stage?
BON: You're asking someone that's picked BC as their underrated team for this year, and my sleeper choice to win the ACC. If I were an Eagles fan, I'd invest quite a bit of my evaluative capital in this season. This is a year when TOB can, and maybe should, win the ACC. The conference is strong, but there isn't a dominant team. I think you can start to draw conclusions about a coach after a decade; that's more than enough time to establish a pattern, and TOB's at the point where he needs to bump the program up a notch, or the boosters that you've mentioned will ask for more bang for their buck. At this point, TOB's putting himself in a position where one slip (a 5-6 season, for example) may put him past the tipping point in a lot of minds. I'll be watching BC closely this year.