To understand Mack Brown's
career, you have to compare him to Bobby Bowden. It is Bowden's FSU program, I believe, that Mack patterned his UT program after. There were two keys to Bowden's success: First, recruit the best players. Don't underestimate the importance of being "Coach February". Two, get solid, experienced assistants who can coach them. This formula will lead to you being able to almost always beat teams with lesser talent (most teams) and occasionally beat teams of equal talent (when you have a "transcendent" talent -- like Young and McCoy). With this formula, Bowden was able to finish in the top 5 nationally for a decade (even though he won only two championships). Sounds like Brown's ability to finish in the top ten with one championship and only 2 conference titles (Bowden never had to worry about Conference titles).
What has happened in the last three years is that Mack has lost the second part of the formula -- always beat lesser teams. I think this is due to Mack taking a risk on young "geniuses" at the coordinator positions instead of more solid, experienced coaches. I think Harsin is the real deal, but the young offense has been asked to do too much this season. The real problem, in my opinion, has been the disaster on the defensive side of the ball. With a respectable defense, this team would be close to what Mack expects.
It's sometimes maddening as a fan that the Horns don't have a coach than can out-scheme his opponents, but Mack has never been that kind of coach. Bowden wasn't either. Recruit great players, coach them adequately, beat the lesser talented teams, and, occasionally, win the whole thing. It's not perfect (read Sabanesque), but I would love for Mack to at least get back to his basics after the last three years.
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