QB Drought Doomed Texas' Brown
Everything is bigger in Texas — except for college football.
More of a fact than opinion, that statement has University of Texas boosters and loyal fans angrier than Vince Young on Heisman day.
It’s also the major reason Mack Brown won’t be back in Austin next season. In fact, I’m sure Mr. Brown’s bags are already packed. All he needs is his ticket to be punched and it’s sayonara Longhorns.
Texas football is supposed to be a constant entity, an unstoppable thing we find hard to describe, but we know it’s always there and full of raw power, brute strength and menacing tenacity.
Are you scared? I know I’m not.
In the current culture of college football, Texas has been passed and even lapped by programs at Alabama, LSU and even USC. Notre Dame has more relevance than Texas does right now. And that has the Longhorns faithful fuming. And they burn deeper because less than a decade ago they were atop the FBS machine.
The country’s most dynamic player, a winning and beloved coach, a fist full of roses and a national championship: The dream was theirs. And the dream was supposed to last. Quality BCS football is supposed to breed more quality BCS football. Recruits should have been drooling.
So, what the hell happened?
Let’s take a step back and look at what happened to football in general. At the top level, Brett Favre and his multiple MVPs opened the door for stars like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, who took over the pro game and put up video game numbers. Offenses wanted to mimic that. The spread and four-receiver sets became the norm. Soon passing games were opening up running lanes instead of the other way around.
Football is as trendy a sport as there is. The new trend: star quarterbacks. If you have one, not only will you win, but you’ll be admired.
Texas has the advantage. It is the birthplace of the quarterback — from Sammy Baugh and Davey O’Brien to Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford. Texas relies on in-state recruiting and for good damn reason. Texas high school football is a fire-breathing dragon. All you have to do is contain it and everything will be OK.
So after Vince, there was Colt, and everything was OK. In his four years, McCoy threw for 13,253 yards with 112 TDs to 45 picks, completed passes at 70 percent and added 20 rushing TDs. He also won 45 games. He set all the touchdown marks for Texas and the national mark for wins. An injury in the national title game as a senior ended a storied career on a sour and controversial note (the should-he-have or should-he-have-not-played debate).
Note: From here, you’ll notice a significant reduction in stats and pertinent information. This is not an omission. It’s because we’re talking about Texas QBs after Colt McCoy, and there aren’t any.
• McCoy, recruited in the ’05 class, redshirted before starting in 2006. Jevan Snead, a four-star recruit out of Texas, was part of the '06 class. He didn’t like that Colt won the job and transferred to Ole Miss after his first year. In that class, Texas missed out on in-state talent such as Stafford (Georgia), Christian Ponder (Florida State) and Andy Dalton (TCU).
• In the ’07 class, Texas decided to sign up G.J. Kline (transferred to Tulsa) and didn’t get Texas studs Ryan Mallett (Arkansas via Michigan) and Nick Foles (Arizona via Michigan State).
• The next year, Texas high school QBs were elite — and the Longhorns didn’t sign anyone. Andrew Luck, from Houston, went to Stanford, and Robert Griffin III went to Baylor. There was also four-star Darron Thomas, who went to Oregon, and Nick Florence (three stars), who also went to Baylor.
• 2009 brought a five-star guy, however, in Garrett Gilbert, but we’ve seen how that turned out. Gilbert played in one notable game (replacing McCoy) before moving on to Southern Methodist in 2011. He will go undrafted. The other prominent name that year was Casey Pachall, who showed flashes of brilliance at TCU, where he faced several off-the-field problem, but is still a stellar NFL prospect.
• Case McCoy and Connor Wood came to Austin in 2010. McCoy was a backup as a senior this year behind David Ash, taking over when Ash suffered a concussion, while Wood left for Colorado. Texas again missed a dynamic talent in James Franklin, who led Missouri to a Top-10 finish this season.
• In 2011, Ash was a three-star prize and has impressed; however, Texas missed out on another Heisman winner: Johnny Manziel, who reportedly wanted to play for Texas.
• The next year, Connor Brewer signed, as did Tyrone Swoopes — both four-starers. Brewer already left for Arizona, while Swoopes is a question mark, but still has a chance for an Austin future. While the in-state talent misses are hard to mark yet, the key miss here is out-of-stater Jameis Winston, who also said Texas was his top choice. If (or when) Winston wins the Heisman, that would be three Heisman winners (RGIII, Manziel, Winston) and another finalist (Luck) who Texas didn’t even offer.
• Other Texas misses include college starters and stars Kolton Browning (Louisiana Monroe) and Chuckie Keeton (Utah State)
From McCoy, Texas failed to recruit a quarterback, and it failed miserably. The recruiting team includes Mack Brown. Boosters, fans and pundits aren’t wrong to peg Brown a failure because of it.
And as the game is now, if you ain't got a quarterback, you ain’t got much. That’s not enough for the state of Texas, and it’s not enough for Mack Brown, who has lost more games (20) in the last four years than he did in his first eight (19).
Since the national title, there’s been only one Big 12 title in Austin and the only losing season in Brown’s Texas career. It's hard to imagine any of that would have happened if Brown and company would have secured just a couple of the aforementioned talents.