After days of waiting and conflicting reports, the news has finally come down -- Texas Longhorns head coach Mack Brown will coach the team for the final time in the Alamo Bowl against the Oregon Ducks on December 27.
According to a report from the Longhorn Network and then verified by ESPN's Brett McMurphy, Mack Brown has begun telling recruits and players alike that that he will resign but coach the Longhorn's bowl game. A press conference has been scheduled for 1 p.m. CT on Sunday.
In a statement, new athletic director Steve Patterson had the following to say about the longtime head coach:
"We appreciate everything Mack has done for The University of Texas. He's been a tremendous coach, mentor, leader and ambassador for our university and our student-athletes. He is truly a college football legend. I've had a number of talks with him recently, and he has always said he wanted what was best for The University of Texas. I know this decision weighed heavily on him, and today he told us he's ready to move forward."
For Brown, he admitted that the program is "being pulled in different directions" and that he thinks the time is right for a change, the former likely a reference to the forces that within the power structure of the university that were pushing for Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban.
Brown added, "I sincerely want it to get back to the top and that's why I am stepping down after the bowl game. I hope with some new energy, we can get this thing rolling again."
A search for his successor is expected to begin immediately.
The news caps a wild five days of rumors that began on Tuesday with a report from Horns247 that a decision would come down on Brown in the next 48 hours, followed shortly thereafter by the ground-breaking report from Orangebloods that Brown would resign by the end of the next week.
With Brown in Florida recruiting while the reports came out, the next 48 hours featured mostly speculation, much of it surrounding possible replacement Nick Saban and his potential interest in the job. Regarding Brown, there was some concern that he might not resign easily and uncertainty about when exactly an announcement might happen with Friday's football banquet looming as a sort of unofficial deadline for a decision about Brown's future.
Brown returned to Texas by Thursday morning for his Alamo Bowl press conference, in which he mostly deflected questions after an opening statement that included him saying that there's been no change in his situation, but also no claims that he would return as the head coach in 2014.
A Board of Regents meeting featuring an executive session discussing the employment status of university president Bill Powers at that time had loomed as the most important meeting of the day until Brown revealed that he planned on meeting with Powers and new athletic director Steve Patterson. Reports quickly emerged indicating the meeting would happen on Thursday evening, with some resolution expected at that time.
The decision ends the 16-year Mack Brown-Texas Football era that included the school's first national championship since 1970 and another national championship as the former North Carolina coach and Tennessee native helped restore a once-decrepit program to the national prominence it enjoyed under legendary former coach Darrell K Royal.
Brown had gone through a similar restoration process at North Carolina, where he took the team to 10-win seasons in 1993 and 1997, two of the three times in school history that a coach achieved that feat in Chapel HIll.
When Brown arrived in Austin, he had an intuitive understanding of how to bring the significant powers in Texas football back into alignment, first turning to Royal to ask for his guidance and starting a campaign to bring back some of the legendary former players as part of an overall reintegration of lettermen into the program.
Royal told his understudy, among many things, that it was Brown's responsibility to "put all the BB's back in the box."
And so Brown did, recovering from some early disappointments in Big 12 title game losses to Nebaska in 1999 and a loss to Colorado in 2001 that cost him a chance at a national championship game appearance. However, that 2001 season featured an 11-2 record, the start of eight straight 10-win seasons for Brown and the Horns.
Then there was the specter of Oklahoma looming large over the successes of the next several years, as the team underwent a five-game losing streak that included blowout losses in 2000 and 2003. The brutal 12-0 loss in 2004 was the low point of that era, but Brown and his team were able to recover by turning the team over to emerging star quarterback Vince Young.
The team fell on hard times starting in 2009 after Brown experienced a self-admitted hangover following the disheartening national championship loss to Alabama that featured McCoy's injury on the fifth play. It was in 2010 that all the small cracks that had been showing in the foundation of Texas football started to become apparent as the team went 5-7 with anointed McCoy successor Garrett Gilbert struggling mightily with his decision-making.
The season cratered with a home loss to Iowa State, the first time that the Horns had ever lost to the Cyclones.
As a result, Brown had to make some difficult changes to his coaching staff that coincided with some major changes to his inner circle, as longtime friend and offensive coordinator Greg Davis was forced out, along with offensive line coach Mac MacWhorter, defensive tackles coach Mike Tolleson, and wide receivers coach Bobby Kennedy, as well as head-coach-in-waiting Will Muschamp.
Since Muschamp was named Texas coach-in-waiting, retirement rumors have swirled around Brown, leading many to speculate that he still has some ill feelings towards a move that didn't work out and cost him some significant job security.
The breaking point for many fans came during the fourth and final blowout at the hands of Oklahoma, a second consecutive massacre that left Brown and his players with no other explanation in a sombre post-game press conference other than "It is what it is."
Texas went on to finish 8-4, but a comeback victory over Oregon State in the Alamo Bowl allowed Brown to say that the defense had improved and for a segment of the fan base to believe that quarterback David Ash had turned an important corner in his development.
Entering the 2013 season with 19 starters returning from that team, despite the changes in the overall narrative that would have had Texas competing for a national championship and a third straight appearance in a Rose Bowl national title game, hopes were high for the Longhorns.
Unfortunately for Brown's longevity, the decision to retain defensive coordinator Manny Diaz proved a costly one, as the defense regressed to 2012 ways in a devastating loss to BYU that included 550 rushing yards given up. Despite failing to make the move during the offseason, Brown had seen enough from the former fan favorite and fired Diaz the next day, promoting former defensive coordinator Greg Robinson from his football analyst position.
The miscalculation that Diaz could help the defense improved cost the game against BYU and then the game against Ole Miss, as the architect of the immensely successful 2004 Texas defense had only three practice days to prepare for the Rebels.
For the second-most successful coach in Texas history, the end diminished Brown's overall legacy and history may well conclude that he overstayed his welcome, failing to heed the words of his mentor that "staying until all the fun is gone is too long to stay anywhere."
In the final moments, however, despite the drama that played out the day before, Brown made one final important decision -- to maintain as much dignity as possible by declining to further use his last available resources to continue fighting the inevitable.
Some times, there's nothing else sensible to do but to go gently into that good night rather than imprudently and impertinently raging against the dying light.