In 2008 two things were certain; the sequel in the Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight, and the Texas Longhorns football team were two of the best things I’d watched all year. Five years later all I have is the The Dark Night DVD and a horrible memory of UT in Lubbock, TX on November 1st, 2008.
It’s been a long time since the Longhorns’ biggest issue was a Blake Gideon dropped interception and a miscommunication between Earl Thomas and Curtis Brown. I’d love to go back to a culture of winning so strong one-loss seasons were travesties. I also wish Christian Bale wouldn’t have called it quits after the third movie of the Batman trilogy, Dark Knight Rises, but likewise I’m stuck sulking in my own selfish pity.
After the last movie of a great trilogy we are all left leaving the theatre wishing it wasn’t over. Why? Not because we enjoyed the three hours of sitting semi-uncomfortably, but because what the producer created over the years did something so compelling it felt real and it left us want more. The Producer becomes a victim of his or her own success for his or her next films will be criticized and compared greatly to the masterpiece previously produced.
Mack Brown is no different than the Batman trilogy’s Christopher Nolan or Star Wars creator, George Lucas, for that matter. He created something spectacular to watch. He created something that left us wanting more each January, wishing the college football season wasn’t over and waiting impatiently for the next installment of his work. He created that culture of winning, he created what we’ve all been demanding for four years now; success.
One of the greatest quotes from any movie I’ve ever seen comes at the end of The Dark Knight when Batman explains what he has become to Gotham City; “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”
Not to be taken in literal terms of life and death, but rather the life and death of Brown’s career; Coach Brown had indeed coached long enough to see himself become the villain.
Coach Brown wouldn’t have retired, but had Texas won the national title against Alabama in 2010, it would have been the perfect ending to a coaching career and we would be talking about Will Muschamp’s replacement right now, not the legend that Brown has become.
A 5-7 record the year after playing for the national title, three mediocre seasons that followed all the while managing to recruit and, in one way or another, turn away the last three Heisman Trophy winners—RG3, Johnny Manziel and now Jameis Winston—from playing at The University of Texas has indeed turned Brown into the villain. The clock has struck midnight for Brown and that is why we are here today. You could even say that the first 12 years of Brown’s 16 created the downfall of Brown’s tenure at Texas.
As Jay-Z said in his 2007 song “Lost Ones”—“Success is the worst drug known to man, it’s stronger than-heroin-when you can look in the mirror like ‘there I am’, and still not see what you’ve become, I know I’m guilty of it too but not like them.”
For much of Brown’s last four seasons at Texas he had not seen, or at least come to terms with, what he had become. While Texas has become the prime picking school where recruiting was more of an eenie-meeni-miny-mo type of selection, Brown had become the captain in denial that his ship was sinking. The sad part is everyone on board was loading the lifeboats while Brown continued to believe he was seeing land ahead.
The last week may have been insult to injury. Was it what Coach deserved? Nobody deserves to be forced out, but at some point when you fail to realize your inability to perform at a high level, somebody has to tell you. In this case, the fans had been screaming it for roughly three years, the results on the field had been shouting it for four. The lack of player development, the miss on certain recruits and the success of in-state rivals Baylor and Texas A&M took their toll.
In the end, Brown physically aged over the last four years the way a president ages during his term. The stress has been written on Brown’s face since the end of the 2010 season and each year it reared its ugly head earlier and earlier. In 2013, despite eventually having a chance to win the Big 12 outright, it was over after the Ole Miss game and you could see it in Brown’s eyes.
Brown’s tenure at Texas was a lot like life; it started with so much promise, he hit the ground running, really made a name for himself and reached his potential before he slowly declined as the years went on.
I personally will miss his charisma and persona as well as everything he embodied. The outpour of former players talking about the person he was has been a true testament of his character. But, his exit was long overdue. While Texas is sure to bring in a big name head coach who will do things his own way, I only hope that Brown is as welcome as Darrell Royal was all those years in and around the football team.
The point is, sometimes we let the outcomes of games affect the outcomes of decisions we make in life. Sports should never become that deep. I understand the passion y’all have for Texas football, but Brown is a man that is more about life than he was about the results on the scoreboard; he just lost his touch in maintaining positive outcomes on the scoreboard. While it’s true that he overstayed his welcome, long past his time as the hero, I only hope that he is never truly treated like the villain.
Thank you for everything, Mack.