The sun came up on Sunday. Head Coach Mack Brown probably saw it come up as he was watching the football game for the third or fourth time — still taking notes.
On Saturday there is still a game to be played against the Baylor Bears, despite the agony anyone affiliated with the Texas Longhorns might still be feeling — players, coaches and fans.
Brown likes to quote the legendary coach Darrel Royal, "Don't let a loss beat you twice." But, West Virginia may very well have beaten Texas twice, once in Memorial Stadium and again in Dallas. The Longhorns certainly felt bad about the loss to West Virginia, but it's incomprehensible to think the team was hanging their heads about it. Maybe they felt too good about themselves after that game. After all, they came within one play of beating one of the top offensive teams in the country.
Frankly it's ridiculous to try and make sense of the OU game, but if the Longhorn players walk into a quiet stadium full of pissed off fans and feeling sorry for themselves, it is entirely possible West Virginia will beat them three times.
Baylor is good — really good. Their offense is every bit as good as West Virginia's and better than Oklahoma's. The Bears put up 63 points against the Mountaineers just three weeks ago, so they can score and they will keep the maligned Texas secondary on their heels all night. Baylor is averaging almost 400 yards passing per game and quarterback Nick Florence, while certainly not the second-coming of RGIII, is one of the best in a very good league full of quarterbacks.
The Baylor defense, not so much. West Virginia put 70 on Baylor, and the Bears were blown out by TCU 49-21 last week. Enough said.
It's about Mack Brown
This game is not so much about Baylor, it's about Texas, and it's about Mack Brown.
Despite Brown's best efforts — and let's give him credit for trying damn near everything — the Texas Longhorn football team has been in decline since the 9th snap of the 2010 National Championship game. There have been moments of high hope, but the trend line is going the wrong direction. Since that loss, Texas has three loses to OU, is 2-9 against top 25 opponents and clearly has done some poor recruiting.
There is only one person who stands completely accountable for the mess this football team is in. Mack Brown has never shied away from taking responsibility. He's made wholesale changes in his coaching staff and in his approach to the game. And still, here they are.
Pro or Con
The pessimist will say Brown has to go, and there are many good arguments to be made for that. But now is not the time for that kind of pessimism. Brown has earned the right to name his time to go and he has earned the respect of Texas football fans. Still, fans need not shy away from having the discussion. It's a legitimate question to be asking: Is it time for a change?
The optimist may suggest we are still just halfway through the season. Texas can indeed win six straight games, finish 10-2 and perhaps, on the slimmest of margins, compete for a Big 12 championship. Likely? Of course not. Possible? Yes.
In 1976 Darrel Royal finished the season at 5-5-1 and didn't make a bowl game for the first time in eight years; and the legend stepped down at the age of 52. Mack Brown earned his place in Texas Longhorn football history but all great coaches lose their edge sooner or later. Saturday night's game against Baylor will tell us whether we are closer to sooner or later.
What to watch for
- A quick, positive start. Bad things happening early in the game will suggest the team has learned nothing, not just to fans, but to the players themselves. A small error could turn into an avalanche of lost confidence.
- Physical, hard-hitting play. The Longhorns want to be a tough team. They need to prove it to themselves and to fans. Look for the team to come out swinging.
- Stay under control. The above being said, it will do no good to have players taking risks and overplaying against the Bears. The Baylor offense will destroy the defense if Texas tries to hit a home run on every play. The team needs to play hard but with controlled aggression. Trying too hard will result in big play mistakes.
Texas Longhorns vs. Baylor Bears
Time: 7:00 p.m. at Darrell K. Royal — Texas Memorial Stadium
Radio: KVET-FM 98.1 / KVET-AM 1300
Honored: Cancer Awareness Day. Longhorn players will wear colored ribbons on their helmets honoring people they care about who have cancer. A pink ribbon represents breast cancer, a yellow ribbon represents testicular cancer and a purple ribbon covers all other forms of cancer.