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Hit The Road Mack: Mentor Of All We’re Against … Hook ’em?

December 29th, 2013 · Tags:Sports · Wi-Fi

 

Mack Brown Horns

 

On the eve of Mack Brown’s parting ways with The University of Texas Longhorns — at least in the role of football czar for the burnt orange horde, I am compelled to say a little something.

 

First … the odds makers think The Oregon Ducks will turn Brown’s Horns upside down to frowns. Either way, how fitting that Mack’s final stand is The (Valero) Alamo Bowl.

 

So, despite those prophecies, for the record, I suspect Mack Brown will go out smiling, with a Texas win, at which point many probably expect the coach to ascend on up to heaven and sitteth at the right guard of the Lord of all Longhorns.

 

Not me.

 

Do I respect Mack Brown? You bet! You have to. You don’t get one the best jobs in football by slacking. (For the record, I respect his offensive coordinator even more — just about as much as anyone in football, for the way Major Applewhite led the Horns at QB, and then stepped aside as the signal caller, when asked to do so. I digress …)

 

Do I like Mack? Not in the least and here is why.

 

First, an analogy. Have you ever seen an old grandfather who dotes over his grandkids and will give them anything or do anything for them. It seem’s nice at first, then you notice he will probably knock the other little kids down to grab the candy at the parade for his grandkid. That’s how I see Mack. Great to his own. Not so great toward everyone else.

 

This impression was formed a few years ago, watching an interview of Mack Brown after a Texas Tech vs. Texas football game in Lubbock. No, not the game in which Graham Harrell threw the unlikely touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree for a come-from-behind-win over the Longhorns … the ranked #1 Horns. Not that game — which any college football fan can see in their mind, complete with the Tech/Mike Leach fans pouring on to the field with a few ticks left on the clock. Not that game.

 

Two years earlier, Oct. 28, 2006, when the Horns and Red Raiders met in Lubbock, Mack’s guys won. But, they held on by the skin of their teeth as Leach’s air raid pecked away at the lead, late in the game. It was a great game. A superb performance by both teams. The game was close: 35-31, with the #5 Longhorns barely getting out of Lubbock alive … despite an officiating crew from Austin, I might add.

 

 

After the game, in a TV interview, Mack would not give the Red Raiders credit. (I wish I still had the recording …) He said something seemingly, half-heartedly complimentary — the equivalent of patting Tech on the head after they nearly upset the much more powerful Longhorns. Then Mack went on to say that his team just played awful and that was what kept Tech in the game. It was a subtle enough insult that many of Mack worshippers or observers didn’t see through it. Mack could not or would not give Tech its due. No matter what team I follow, I find that reprehensible. And he certainly wasn’t about to admit that he had been out coached by Mike Leach … Leach the kind of genius who baffles sports writers and his scrappy team of recruits-no-one-else-wanted had given the Horns all they wanted … the Horns who had bluechip recruits stacked two or three deep at every position.

 

Mack couldn’t do it and I will never forget that. Ha, to quote the immortal words of Woodrow in Lonesome Dove, “I hate rude behavior …” especially when it is on national TV, one professional to another.

 

Maybe it’s just my cross to bear, but in so many ways, the power, the dominance, the advantages afforded to UT go against everything I was ever taught in sports and perhaps in life. And Mack is the embodiment. First the obvious example above, to slap another team in the face — figuratively — after a game is the lowest level on the unwritten code of sportsmanship.

 

 

Second, I come from a culture of “have-nots” … even before college. My tiny high school — also Longhorns, by the way — barely had enough kids enrolled to qualify for our classification in Texas high school sports. The teams we played against had more of everything — bodies, natural talent, facial hair, speed, size, moxy … you name it. But somehow we were competitive. We were known for “heart” … for “fight” … for doing more with less and yes, sportsmanship.

 

As I like to tell my nephew (who bleeds that ugly shade of orange, by the way), my sports upbringing was kind of like “Rudy” … the little guy, the underdog, and like my college, my mindset probably always will be that way.

 

Texas, my friends, is the anti-Rudy.

 

I have friends who played at my tiny school who now, somehow, go gaga over the Horns … I just can’t understand it, I mean … except for the ones who attended UT. It flies in the face of all that is holy … ha … in my little town. (ok … slight hyperbole …)

 

Mack Brown and his Texas Longhorns are the antithesis of underdogs … everywhere. As much as The Longhorns have done under Mack Brown, they should have done tenfold with the talent that walks through those burnt orange doors. They say that many of the Texas Longhorns who go on to play in the NFL — which is an impressive number — suffer a sense of let down with they see their professional team’s facilities. Or so I have heard …

 

Mack won a national championship with a team that was good enough and powerful enough to have won the championship with a drum major calling the plays … Ha … like Barry Switzer winning a world championship with Troy, Emmitt and Michael. Switzer was a great football coach in spite of his penchant for handguns on airplanes (I digress …), granted. But, lesser men probably would have done the same.

 

And no, I am not giving all that national championship credit to Vince Young. Not for a second. Most thought Young walked on water too. IMHO VY was the most overrated player on the team. VY could gain 30 yards on a run, with 30 yards of green pasture in front of him … and the game announcers would say he levitated for 25 of those yards. Hell … you or I could have made 30 yards with 30 yards of running room! Yes Vince was good … and very much a man among boys in college – strength wise and and his degree of physical maturity … and he performed. But it was the cast of players around him that made him look better. Am I full of it? Perhaps … but Vince’s issues at the next level seem to support my thoughts. The point .. again … Texas has the best talent in the country and should capture title after title after title. And yet …

 

One more point … and I have no way of knowing if this was a Mack Brown team trait … a Will Muschamp (former defensive coordinator) thing … or where it came from, but I have never seen anyone do it like The Texas Longhorns of the Brown era. I call it “dirty pool” … but frankly, I don’t know if the rules actually allow it or not. Regardless, it ranks right up there with bounty bowls for sportsmanship … In the last decade or so, I’ve noticed that when defenders from an opposing team tackle a Texas Longhorn running back, the Texas offensive linemen will take “pot shots” — helmets to the ribs of the would-be tacklers. This especially upsets me, being a Red Raider fan, knowing our tacklers: 1) are outweighed even by the running backs, typically by 40 pounds, 2) Probably are not even the same species genetically as the UT offensive linemen and 3) Are guys whom no one else recruited, and have even lesser-recruited players waiting to take the place of the guy with broken ribs. Watch for this. Maybe other’s do it … But you can see play after play in Austin.

 

 

Correct me if I am wrong during the remainder of bowl season … IF every other offensive line takes cheap shots at the ribs of tacklers … well, then I take that one back.

 

Most unpopular of all my opinions … there is the Mack Brown “Good Ol’ Boy Gets The Favorable Calls From The Big 12 Officiating Crew” syndrome. If you like Texas, you may have missed this. Everyone else on the planet knows exactly what I am talking about. Is it Mack’s good natured charm and a case of the refs unconsciously making mistakes to benefit the Horns? Does Mack let the refs fudge on their scorecards when they play 18 over at The Club? Is it as simple as admitting that The Big 12 is big business, nothing more and nothing less these days, and in the vernacular of the mob … “Texas is the top earner”?

 

Yes … I know … every fans says #TRRU — “the refs robbed us.” Hey … I have probably been guilty too, although I am actually quite objective … Anywho … go watch the video of that famous UT vs Tech game in 2008 — the one in which Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree did the unthinkable … upsetting the #1 team in the country. Texas was seemingly out of the game, even before that. But “miraculously” on a punt returned by Texas’ NFL-bound Jordan Shipley two — not one, but two — referees threw flags on the return for illegal blocks by the Horns. Here’s the miracle part. Someone on the officiating team made the decision to pick up the flags and let the return stand, putting Texas back in the game. It was one of the weirdest things I had ever seen. I remember seeing the replay several times, as if everyone knew it was not right. So, the Harrell/Crabtree thing that followed … pure karma.

 

But, that is not exactly an objective example, coming from a Tech fan. Try this one on. In a 2005 game featuring The Oklahoma Sooners vs. Texas Tech, the NFL-bound Danny Amendola was awarded a first down even though he fell about two feet short of the first down marker after he caught a pass. Again, that replay was shown again and again, and the TV announcers scratched their heads until they drew blood. (Ha … the play is still on YouTube, thanks to the upset Sooners … and rightly so.) “What’s that got to do with Texas?,” you might ask. Well … The call that helped Tech win the game mattered little to Tech in the long run, other than “Rudy’s pride.” Tech beat OU, but Tech was a mere spoiler. Who benefited by the horrendous call? Texas Tech … not really. It benefitted UT my friends, putting Texas out of OU’s reach that year. Ok, Ok … hashtag #conspiracytheorist …. whatever:) Maybe the obviously poor call was a result of an aneurism or something like that among the officials.

 

 

Lastly, a bit of irony. I have so many mixed emotions about Longhorn Mack riding off into the sunset. Maybe, the same things I don’t like about him are the product of the environment in Austin … stuff he has to deal with on a daily basis … the evil orange powers that have run their coach out of the game. Also, if in fact Mack has lost his edge, the other Big 12 school fans and I should be begging for Mack to stay. For some reason, we are not. But like I say, a jellyfish or any other invertebrate should be able to go .700 at Texas, at least. It doesn’t matter. The horns will be contenders … That’s a given. And most of the time, they will rub Rudy’s nose in the dirt. Me … I just can’t get behind that.

 

Bottom line … all this is to say, Mack must be great, or I wouldn’t even care. So long, coach. Godspeed.

 

Know what I sayin?