As usual, Peter is right. Over on Burnt Orange Nation, PB has the analysis spot-on when it comes to Mack Brown and the job he and his staff did this year with the Longhorn football team. It was not good, and there will be, ahem, concern expressed about the program from many areas of the fanbase over the coming offseason. And trust us: we, too, are concerned and hope to see significant improvement in 2008 over the last 2 seasons.
BUT: at most schools, a national championship is worth at least 5 years of goodwill for a head coach. Next year will be Year Three after the 2005 national title season, yet already many Texas fans seem to be headed toward outright anger at the coaching staff. For our part, you will hear criticism when it is warranted, and there will certainly be times when it is. But to not appreciate that a 9-3 season (albeit with 3 bad losses) is the worst moment in Mack Brown's tenure at Texas is ludicrous. Next year, we need to see some improvement. But we also need to understand as a fan base that the program is still pretty damn healthy.
We said back in May, when it's easier to be coolheaded about the Longhorns, that we thought all 3 major men's sports had coached that Texas fans could (and should) be proud of. That has not changed. Mack Brown remains a class act who represents the University very well. Do we need to get better at tackling, cut down on the arrests, and get more consistent quarterback play? Yes. Has Mack earned the benefit of our support as he attempts to improve in all those important areas? Absolutely.
Mack Brown is clearly not perfect, but in the game of college football there aren't a whole lot better. This team obviously had significant flaws due to faults of both players and coaches. We as fans, however, must remember that many of the causes of these flaws are unobservable due to our position outside the program.
We can empirically see that the pass defense has been atrocious the last two seasons. We cannot, however, say that the problem this year is a lack of fundamentals or the coaching staff failing to teach the basics (as one e-mail we received argued). The reason the linebacker corps sucked at tackling is because Bobino, Derry, and Killebrew simply do not excel at tackling. You can teach a hungry lion not to eat the gazelle all you want, but you shouldn't be miffed or blame the teacher when the gazelle gets eaten.
You may remember in Week One when Texas was played tightly by Arkansas State. After that we agreed in a conversation that Texas was probably a 3-4 loss team this season. The product on the field this season simply was not all that good, and the Texas team at the end of the regular season is pretty much the Texas team we expected at the beginning. If there's one thing you can count on a mediocre team to do over the course of a season is to play mediocre. We aren't shocked or mad at the head coach, we are just hoping the staff continues to field a winner (and improve) as it has the better part of the last decade.
We remain hopeful that the best analogy of 2007 is the 2003 season. Texas went 10-3, had an embarrassing loss to a rival (65-13 was worse than losing to aggy), and had a lot of young talent to build on. That offseason was a positive one, with major coaching changes and the introduction of Greg Robinson. An important junior RB returned to give Texas a strong running game, and the linebacker corps and secondary had lots of talent waiting to become stars.
Mack has been one of the best coaches in college football for the better part of a decade. Supporting his efforts and avoiding unnecessary/unsubstantiated criticism is the only way to approach this offseason.