Coach Ron Meyer: Mack Brown Feeling Pressure

Coach Ron Meyer: Mack Brown Feeling Pressure

The Texas Longhorns enter Wednesday Night's Holiday Bowl against California dealing with something they hadn't expected. Rumors that head coach Mack Brown was about to be fired! The athletic department is doing what they can to quell those rumors, even suggesting an extension to Brown's current contract that already funs for a few more years.

Is Mack Brown really on the hot seat?!

I know a thing or two about being a college football head coach in the state of Texas. I can tell you that fans are fickle in general in that state...and that UT fans in particular don't have much patience when the football team is doing anything other than competing for a national championship.

The Horns had kind of a reverse "shock the nation" season last year when they went just 5-7 and failed to qualify for a bowl. The team did improve this year to 7-5...but that's just 12-12 over two years...and that's unacceptable to the richest and most influential alumni. Particularly after they saw Vince Young win a national championship not too long ago...and Colt McCoy reach a championship game before getting hurt in the early going. Mack Brown? I just don't see it. Some media blogs jumped the gun a bit suggesting that Brown was going to be fired. My view is that some influential alumni had overestimated their true influence, and leaked that story hoping it would get some traction. It didn't. Patience is certainly wearing thin in Texas right now. Just not so thin that the school wants to start all over with somebody else.

Remember, this was the place that had Will Muschamp as a "coach in waiting" not too long ago. They thought they were set for another decade, with Brown ready to retire (even though he just recently turned 60), and Muschamp ready to run the show for as long as he wanted. Muschamp was hired away by Florida when it became clear Brown didn't want to leave right away. And, Muschamp's first year with the Gators was a disappointment anyway.

Maybe Texas got a bit too comfortable thinking they had all of their ducks in a row. To me, Brown's longterm success gives him the insurance of at least three years of disappointing play rather than two. And, what big name coach is ready to come in and light a fire? Brown's already been hiring assistants who were supposed to do that, particularly on offense.

As a handicapper, I'm very interested in seeing how the turmoil influences Wednesday's game against California. Texas players have always seen Brown as an icon rather than as a vulnerable coach. They weren't even in high school yet when Texas beat USC for the national championship. They've grown up thinking of this man as a champion.

Will they battle to save his job? Or, have they lost confidence in his leadership abilities given the ups and downs of this season. This is a team that lost three of their last four games (Missouri, Kansas State, and Baylor...sandwiched around a lucky win over Texas A& was almost four straight losses!).

I'll be using my experience and my long term relationships inside the state of Texas to make my final decision in this game. I haven't talked about Cal yet. Obviously Jeff Tedford's preparation and bowl history will be part of my decision-making process as well. The Holiday Bowl is always one of the most interesting bowls to handicap every December because you typically have at least "pretty good" teams from major conferences squaring off in a battle of styles.

I've started out 7-3 in my first 10 Bowl picks, and you can purchase my plays in the Military Bowl Wednesday afternoon matching Toledo and Air Force as well as the Holiday Bowl here at the website with your credit card. Be sure you take care of business before that 4:30 p.m. ET, 1:30 p.m. Vegas time kickoff of Toledo/Air Force. I have great rates for the rest of football too...featuring all college bowl picks and all of my NFL through the Super Bowl.  Call my office at 1-877-540-8787 for details.

I'm the only handicapper in the industry who can study each college bowl and NFL playoff game from a coach's perspective. I've coached in both! I know what it takes to win...and I know what types of distractions can lead to below average performances.

In the coming days I'll be using those insights to pick games like Notre Dame/Florida State, Washington/Baylor, Iowa/Oklahoma, the New Year's sixpack that's played on January 2nd this year, all the BCS games, and the Alabama-LSU showdown for the national title.

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