The great irony of college football in the past four years is that the season that got Mack Brown dismissed from Texas would have earned Charlie Strong an extension.
Coming off a 9-4 season in which his Longhorns won the Alamo Bowl and finished ranked inside the top 20 of both major polls (and, to be fair, included a 49-point loss to Oklahoma), Brown was more or less an out-of-work coach walking after Texas was blown out by BYU and Ole Miss in consecutive September games.
But the Longhorns rallied, winning seven of eight, including a shocking and retaliatory blowout of No. 12 Oklahoma. In fact, Brown and company so rallied the troops that they entered halftime of a de facto Big 12 championship game at Baylor deadlocked in a 3-3 tie.
Texas eventually fell 30-10 and Brown resigned a week later, signing off with an Alamo Bowl loss to Oregon to conclude an 8-5 season that was thought to be unforgivable at the time but now looks like manna from Heaven after three consecutive 7-loss seasons.
Brown, 65, has not coached since then, but not from a lack of desire.
“There’s no doubt if the right situation came up I would coach again,” he said in an interview with Sirius XM College Sports Nation. “I’m not going to take Sally to parts of the country she doesn’t want to live. She’s already put too much into this to take her and say, ‘Oh, honey…’ I don’t think so. If someone needed me that I trusted I’ve got some good years left and I would definitely look at it. I’ve looked at a couple of things the last couple years and they didn’t fit. I’m not going to force it. I’m not going to coach because I just have to coach but if it was right and it was fun I’d love to make another run.”
Brown, who never officially retired from coaching, stays connected to the game through his role as an analyst with ESPN and chaired the committee studying the feasibility of adding football at UT-Rio Grande Valley last year, though his comment above indicates he wouldn’t even broach the subject of moving to Brownsville, Texas, to Sally after living the past three decades in Chapel Hill and Austin.
Most coaches in the College Veterans wing of the FFCA either re-join the game at a lower level than they left (Bill Curry, Georgia State; Butch Davis, FIU) or are still waiting on the right opportunity. There are surely a number of schools that would love to have Brown’s experience and gravitas — the man is on the ballot for the College Football Hall of Fame — so it’s simply a question of Mack finding the right job and the right job finding Mack.