Yes, I know. Six generations of fruit flies have come and gone since I last posted a fresh, new blog. I have no excuses, nothing much has inspired my digits to glide across my keyboard lately. And in an effort to curb the codpendence blogging can create, I vowed to myself that that’s exactly what I’d do—-publish something ONLY if I felt moved.
Well, after last night’s humiliating Longhorn loss to Ole Miss, I had a movement alright. And the color of it just happens to be newest hue in the Crayola box of 64: Mack Brown.
Look people, I’m a faithful Texas fan. I’ve been through the years of feast and the years of famine, but lately UT football has been terribly frustrating and ironic….not unlike a bulimic trying to maintain an impossible binge/purge a habit while living in Sub- Saharan Africa. And this sentiment has been bubbling to the core ever since the Longhorns won the National Championship in 2005. After that, things went downhill. We’re talking eight years of demonstrating frustration and eating humble pie. Now, I know what it’s like to have been an Aggie for a while there.
In all my years of being a devout Orange Blood, I have never, even allowed the possibility of this thought to enter my gray matter. Loyalty is the very core of fandom.
I hope Texas never wins another game this season.
There, I said it.
And I said it because this is the only way the puppet master withing university brass will fire Texas head coach, Mack Brown. He’s been at the helm of the UT program for 16 years. Several were good years indeed. He helped us get to the Rose Bowl for the very first time. We played Michigan and won thanks to the golden toe of young field goal kicker, Dusty Mangum who put it between the uprights in the final seconds of the game. We returned a year later to beat USC for the national championship. A few years later, we played Alabama for the National Championship. We took home the silver medal in that contest. Even so, it was a good run for Brown; was being the operative word.
There was, I feel, a great deal hinging on the outcome of the Longhorn’s third game of the season. In the first contest, they beat a community college who’s name escaped me. Then in game two, they lost to BYU. Last night, after showing some initial promise in terms of field command, they went into the locker room at halftime and reemerged sub par. The Kennedy’s playing flag football at the Vineyard compound at Thanksgiving could have beaten Texas.
There are two things the top brass at Texas don’t like: losing and the colors maroon and white. Texas, love it or hate it, is a very wealthy school. It’s coffers perennially beat out other Texas Universities hands down and is the third wealthiest in the country behind the Thurston Howell the Third schools, such as Harvard and Yale, respectively. The UT system’s endowment totals more than $17 billion, and check this out: the school only receives 20% of its budget from the state, and that support has dropped steadily since 2009, leading to student walkouts to protest the budget cuts.
So, where does it get its money? A couple of places: There’s the University The Permanent University Fund (PUF) which is a Sovereign Wealth Fund provided by the state to fund public higher education within Texas. It started out as funds received from the least of grasslands owned by the state and then came Spindletop and big oil. Need I say more? A portion of the returns are annually directed towards the Available University Fund (AUF), which distributes the funds according to provisions set forth by the Texas Constitution of 1876, subsequent amendments made since then, and the board of regents of the all powerful University of Texas System and their counterparts at Texas A&M. The PUF provides extra funds, above monies from tax revenues, to both collegiate systems which collectively have approximately 50 percent of state public university students. But while this fund was established to fund public universities, no other schools in the state are allowed to dip their feet into this ever flowing font of green. However, in 1984, university systems such as those at Texas Tech, North Texas State and others were given access to the Higher Education Assistance Fund, essentially oil and natural gas crumbs. Adding any other university system or individual institutions to the Permanent University Fund would require an amendment to the Texas Constitution and since the majority of the Legislature consists of Aggie and Texas alumni, that ain’t gonna happen.
UT also operates on endowments…BIG ENDOWMENTS from deep pocketed alumni, who say prayers to St. Darrel of Royal every morning. And then there’s the licensing of merchandise. For the eighth straight year, Texas tops all other schools in terms of selling Longhorn merchandise and this is on going despite several abysmal football seasons. People love the burnt orange and apparently, this little logo:
Bevo, as it turns out is quite marketable as bovine goes.
And then there’s the hand gesture:
It’s cool. It kinda looks like the horns on a steer of that particular breed. Rockers love it, but not for team loyalty and let’s be honest, hands down it beats all the other Johnny Come lately team hand signs that came afterwards.
So, burnt orange means green in Austin. But while Longhorn caps, shirts, golf clubs, Christmas ornaments, insurance policies and , prosthetic limbs continue to fly off the shelves, I would think endowments from the Mega Bucked, would falter. If I were giving multi-million dollar donations to keep the Laurie Kendrick Endowment for the Endowed to stay afloat, I would most certainly want some bang for my buck.
Like winning football games if I may be so shallow.
The powers that be at Texas love Mack Brown and they have for the last 16 seasons which have been uglier than pretty. After losing to BYU more than a week ago, Brown fired his defensive coach 24 hours after the second game of the season, something he said he’d never do. It was if the Longhorns were trying to lose. I witnessed more blown tackles on that field, than on a post game Sunday night in San Francisco’s Castro District.
And during last night’s debacle, the team looked like uncoordinated flying squirrels. Leaping and lunging for tackles only to fall short. They stood up with mouths full of turf and little else. As for receivers? They can’t even catch subtle nuance.
All of this was etched on Brown’s face. I noticed it in pics taken before the game. It was care-worn in that way. His expression was like “I’d rather be in Damascus”. He’s aged ‘presidentially”. You know, as presidents do during extended times of crisis. As Nixon did during the Checkers speech….and Watergate. As Carter did during the Iranian embassy crisis. As Clinton did after Lewinsky, as Bush did after 9/11…as Obama has done since taking office. He looked bad before the game. I can only imagine the facial pallor afterwards. Mack, I beg you…do what Deloss Dodds and that other head honcho guy won’t do. It’s called ‘ the right thing” and you’d accomplish that by abdicating. Help return some gravitas to UT by hanging up your head coach’s whistle and head set.
Or better yet, hand it all over to Nick Saban. He’s perfect for Texas and I’ll tell you why. It’s early in the season, but I’d lay odds that he’ll lead the Tide to their fourth (maybe fifth–sorry, not a fan) consecutive BCS title. Every winning streak ends. It happens. Ask Oklahoma. And when it happens to Bama…and it will, do you think those spoiled fans, now so used to winning season after season, would let Saban survive when its all over?? Highly doubtful he wouldn’t be tarred and feathered beyond one losing season.
And every losing streak must end, too. And it will for Texas. Saban could be key to that. And why not? For Coach Nick, it’s a classic case of ‘been there/done that’. By coming to Texas, he could possibly earn as much ten to 12 million per year, making him the highest paid coach in college football history and trust me, UT can afford that salary and then some. That’s two days production on some UT owned oil wells in South Texas.w He’d have the chance to do what coaches love to do: take over a struggling program and rebuild it. Shine it up pretty to its original Southwest Conference luster. He may love the Alabama regents, the team…he may even love the state, but the man is human. Team Saban will always come first. Nothing against Nickie for that. It’s all part of today’s survival skills. In the new millennium, that means making money. Fiscal promotions are perfectly acceptable exit strategies. Besides, college coaches are gridiron bohemians, they move a lot, they have to command respect in a variety of team colors. Very few coaches ever have Paterno-like staying power and let’s be honest, even that storied history was no match after being Sanduskeyed as all of Penn State was.
So Saban, head west. Come to Austin. Keep Mack around if you must. Use him to recruit. He’s good at that and over the years, he has helped lure many talented blue chippers to the Forty Acres in the heart of Austin. The problem is he just forgets how to use them effectively once they sign their commitment contracts.
If that road is not taken, well, then my beloved Longhorns, you just keep on playing swinging statues out on the field. Get tossed around like salad…and not the good kind. Continue to drop passes. Give up yards. Penalize yourself into negative rushing. Depend on field goals to do what rubbery passing arms and greasy catching hands can’t do. If you must fail with Mack holding the reigns, then please do so with epic intent. Be the best at being the worst. Prove your point with more marks in the Lost Column. And just remember, lost games means lost revenue. Sadly, that just might be the only real reality check at Texas.
And when the Longhorn merchandise sales falls behind that of Slippery Rock, when fans no longer buy tickets to the games and refuse to watch the contests on TV, leaving the networks desperately trying to find sponsors, when new building endowments are replaced by paltry cashier’s checks to purchase lean- to’s at Mart-O-Rama, remember the glory days when the winning was easy and the money flowed. When strategy ruled. And an offense was something beyond that which was listed on a crime blotter.
And uh, speaking of, Mr. UT Athletic Director, what’s with all the criminal news issues coming out of Austin regarding team members in recent years? With all the accusations of rape, drugs usage, DWI’s, attempted murder and other assorted acts of mayhem, I suggest you might want to follow Patty Hearst’s lead and replace Defensive coach Manny Diaz who you fired after the BYU loss, with renowned defense attorney, F. Lee Bailey. How about Robert Shapiro? Clarence Darrow’s great grandson? Matlock?????
Book ‘em, Horns, as the old joke goes. What the hell, they already look decent in orange.