After speculation in early December about Texas head coach Mack Brown's future in coaching, the type of rumor that hasn't gone away ever since Will Muschamp was named head-coach-in-waiting in the fall of 2008, athletic director DeLoss Dodds fired the first major salvo in an attempt to shoot down those rumors by beginning discussion of a contract extension for Brown that currently goes through 2016.
Brown addressed the frustration he feels about the nature of a world where those rumors gain steam so quickly, even with so little credibility:
Anybody can be unprofessional without any information in today's world. Everybody's got to run it down. People across the country in all different kinds of professions have to answer for that. That's just the way we are. We lose a lot of credibility for people when you do that, but short term it's something you have to answer.
While there wouldn't be any raises in the contract, the hope seems to be that the extension would help stave off further talk -- perhaps a negative recruiting tactic used by other programs competing for prospects -- as Brown reiterated during a press availability on Tuesday that he "plans to coach for a long time."
The head coach acknowledged that he had never really thought about how long he wanted to coach and didn't anticipate just how highly Will Muschamp would be in demand after being named HCIW:
I've always played it by ear, After the coach in waiting thing, that's the first time I'd ever thought about what's fair to Texas and what's fair to Will (Muschamp), and we didn't have a date.
With Will being 38, I thought Will could stay a long time and be a lifetime defensive coordinator at Texas and then take the head job. But none of us thought it would be two or three years. Will got so hot, it just didn't last long.
It sounds at least a little revisionist or more than slightly naive that Brown didn't anticipate that a brilliant, charismatic young defensive coordinator with deep ties to the top defensive conference in the country wouldn't receive more interest.
Regardless, the more interesting comments from Brown were about the soul-searching that he did after the 2010 season, which he characterized as the first time he really considered his future at Texas:
Last year, because we didn't play well, and I didn't think I did a good job. It's the first time I've had to sit down and say, ‘What are we doing here? This isn't what we want for Texas or for me or our staff or anybody else.
What Sally and I decided was we are going to go back and give it our best shot for as long as we can do it, and make sure we give Texas our best.
As a result, Brown still doesn't have a timetable for how long he wants to coach and it sounds like he's ready to stay on until his energy or healthy begin to give out:
Right now, I'm just having fun. Sitting here at 60, I feel healthy and feel great. I love this staff. I've really enjoyed this team with as weird as it's been. And obviously not what we want with numbers on the field (in terms of wins).
But I've never felt better with where we are off the field. We're making more progress, in my estimation, than what we're seeing in numbers.
Despite some stretches late during the season when it seems as if some of the losing resulting from injuries was wearing on Brown, he's certainly saying the right things right now and the ability to continue to build on the success the 2011 class has already achieved with the 2012 class coming in, which Brown said has a change to be even better than the group currently concluding their first season on campus, does make his claims of renewed energy more believable.
Add in a young coaching staff that Brown said has been better than expected that appears it will stay intact through the offseason -- the type of continuity that has been rare in a program that went through a stretch of turning defensive coordinators into head coaches at an extremely high rate.
When the Board of Regents does approve the contract extension, the Texas program should be as stable as it has been since Muschamp was named HCIW and all the talk about when Brown would step down really began in earnest. But will the contract extension and the perceived stability really keep those rumors at bay?