By JASON GORDON
DALLAS – After funneling out of the Cotton Bowl late in the second quarter when the score was somewhere in the neighborhood of 36-2 in favor of the Sooners, I saw a group of Dallas Police Department officers gathered on motorcycles near the stadium.
An ambulance was nearby and I half-jokingly asked one of the officers if it was to escort Mack Brown out of the State Fairgrounds after the game.
The 63-21 beat down Texas took – a beating so sound the final score could have just as easily been 80-8 – is a clear sign of just how far the Longhorn program has fallen.
Brown has clearly lost his ability to get the Longhorns ready for big games.
Despite a fired up crowd half-full of fans wanting nothing more than to see the Horns avenge last year’s 55-17 whipping, Oklahoma quickly made the 2011 game seem like a nail-biter on Saturday.
The Longhorns couldn’t tackle, couldn’t pass the football, and they couldn’t run the football. Other than that they looked fine.
This is a direct reflection on Brown and his revamped coaching staff, which was supposed to bring style and substance back to the Texas program.
Bryan Harsin was hired to bring the same flare and unique offensive play calling that he used as offensive coordinator at Boise State for five years in which the team famous for its blue turf went 61-5 with two undefeated seasons.
Harsin was hired as Brown’s co-offensive coordinator after the “King-of-the-2-yard pass” Greg Davis resigned after Texas went 5-7 in 2010.
The blue field Harsin coached on at Boise State was replaced with most of the Texas fans streaming out of the Cotton Bowl by halftime with the blues. Perhaps coaching in the Big 12 isn’t as easy as coaching in the friendly confines of the Western Athletic Conference.
Brown’s other offensive coordinator, Major Applewhite, may have earned a lifetime pass from criticism by Longhorn fans for his heroics during his playing days, but he’s clearly not getting the job done either.
As for defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, the Longhorn defense that was touted as one of the best in the nation during the preseason gave up a Red River Shootout record 667 yards Saturday. And this is a rivalry that dates back to 1900.
This despite having the likes of defensive ends Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor, and safety Kenny Vaccaro, all projected to be first round picks in next April’s National Football League draft, in his starting lineup.
The fact is the coaching shakeup that took place after the abysmal 2010 season has produced an 0-6 record against ranked teams – with Texas being outscored on average 45-24 in those games. That includes Oklahoma, which has now beaten Texas three years in a row, stomping the Horns by a combined 118-38 over the past two seasons.
A Texas program that once was so well respected nationally has turned into one that ranked teams can count as a gimmie these days.
This despite the fact that Texas continuously grabs up the type of February high school recruits that would make most colleges drool. The Longhorns’ recruiting classes are consistently ranked in the top-5 nationally year after year.
David Ash clearly isn’t the answer at quarterback. Texas’ inability to have a realistic QB backup plan is another one of the program’s recent downfalls.
The fact that Mack Brown can’t win the big games anymore with seemingly all the right coaches and all the right players falls clearly on his shoulders.
The gigantic spark Brown’s enthusiastic ways once created with the Texas program has long since simmered. He no longer has that vibrant look and more often looks like a beaten down man resigned to his fate, as he did Saturday when he tried to come up with excuses for the loss to OU.
“We had some guys play well, but we didn’t play well as a team,” Brown said. “I thought they out-coached us. I thought they out-hit us and they were more physical than we were. I thought we made some better plays today on defense than we have in the past.”
We had some guys play well? I thought we made some better plays on defense than we have in the past? Is this a coach that’s working in the world of reality anymore?
He had a lot better view of a Longhorn team that gave up 63 points and 677 yards than I did. At least he got the part right about being out-coached.
If Saturday’s paltry performance isn’t a clear indication it’s time for a change in the head coaching ranks at Texas nothing will be.