Texas football has hit such a lull lately that it almost feels undignified taking jabs at the Sooners’ rivals to the south. Of course, DeLoss Dodds and Mack Brown start flapping their gums, and it gets awfully hard to resist.
These days, though, you don't even need an OU fan to beat up the straw men trotted out by Gasbag and Gassier – not when Bevo backers are more than willing to do it themselves. Unless you’re talking to someone inside the well-heeled cabal of boosters who regularly play in Dodds’ foursomes and get their boots shined by Brown, I reckon plenty of UT fans share Scipio’s sentiments about marking time until the two bigwigs step down. Honestly, I can’t say that I blame them.
Brown may still have the charm reserves needed to woo high school recruits and their parents with the best of them, but he has devolved into a punchline as a coach. Meanwhile, Dodds continues to strengthen his bid for the title of “College Football’s Preeminent Producer of Intellectually Dishonest Bullshit.” (Watch out, Jim Delany.)
I’m definitely not shedding any tears, but I can imagine how frustrating it must be for the UT fans who don’t have the Dun & Bradstreet to merit scotch and cigars with the head coach. As Stewart Mandel noted in his recent look at the state of the Longhorns, even with all the underachievement of late, Brown’s job isn’t in jeopardy.
(Why? Conventional wisdom is that Dodds doesn’t feel like going through a coaching search.)
Of course, the natural inclination of Sooner Nation has been to pray that researchers devise some miraculous anti-aging treatment that ensures Brown will remain on the Longhorn sidelines in perpetuity. OU has won three consecutive Red River Shootouts, the last two victories coming by an average margin of 40 points. Even with the Sooners entering what looks like a rebuilding year, Texas is going through yet another offensive reboot in the classic “I-want-to-do-what-TEAM-X-does-I’ll-snap-my-fingers-and-it-will-happen” fashion we’ve come to expect from Brown. It all adds up to #KeepMackBrown.
But we all couldn’t be more wrong. For OU’s sake, Brown needs to get his gold watch soon.
The greatest lesson to be learned from the SEC’s string of seven consecutive national championships is that in today’s college football world, you’re only as good as the company you keep. The SEC has done a masterful job of marketing the league as the baddest dudes on the block. Those 14 teams comprise the sport’s marquee brand, which means more of everything that sustains success — from eyeballs to dollars to talent.
OU has hitched the Sooner Schooner to the Big 12, a deep league with plenty of quality programs up and down the ladder. But one league is Barry Bonds, and the other is Tony Gwynn.
The SEC has a handful of programs with the raw materials to produce nationally elite teams every year — LSU, Alabama, Florida, Georgia. Below the top layer is a smattering of teams like Auburn and Tennessee that have made national title runs in the BCS era. When all is said and done, it doesn’t really seem to matter in the eyes of the public and media if these heavyweights play each other in a season, so long as they’re all housed under the same conference roof.
The Big 12 consists of solid programs, but the Red River rivals are the only two that have the same type of built-in advantages as the SEC powers. Texas, which arguably should have an edge on every other school in the country, has stumbled and fumbled around for three years. Oklahoma fans have relished three wins over UT during that period, but, truth be told, the Sooners atrophied in that stretch, too. (Before you start arguing otherwise, pop in the tape of the 2013 Cotton Bowl.)
The Baylors and Oklahoma States of the league have capitalized on the opportunities of the last three seasons to reach the highest heights in program history. History also shows us how difficult it is for those schools to make the leap to perennial contender.
The truth is that as schadenfreude-tastic as it is to watch your mortal enemy meander aimlessly from year to year, the Sooners and Longhorns are joined at the hip from a competitive standpoint. Both benefit from the other’s strength, even if they don't want to admit it.
Iron sharpens iron in college football, and Texas has turned to rubber under Brown. The sooner he steps aside and Texas gets its act together, the better for the Sooners.