Dodds doesn't get it - Erich Schlegel
The end may be near for the longtime Texas athletic director. And that may be a good thing.
Other than massive disappointments on the gridiron and the hardwood in recent seasons, nothing else indicates just how out of touch head football coach Mack Brown and DeLoss Dodds can be than public comments made by both over the last few months.
But Dodds outdid himself in a recent interview with the Austin-American Statesman, producing some real gems that are enough to make an orange-blooded Texas fan blow steam from their ears, which has become a common look for 'Horns football fans in recent years and has now extended to the basketball and baseball programs.
In assessing the state of Texas athletics, the longtime athletic director apparently went off the deep end into a spot where logic has little appeal.
Try this on for size when asked about all the losing recently:
It's not bad for fans to go there. That's why there's so much excitement when we win. If you win all the time, it's not good for the coaches or the kids. You've got to learn to appreciate it.
The rebuttal is almost difficult to get out simply because of the mind-boggling, ludicrous nature of those comments.
It's not bad for the fans go to the terrible spot there are in right now, where every sign of weakness or trouble has fans calling for Brown's decapitated head on a stake? Has Dodds seen the reactions of Texas fans recently to anything or virtually nothing? Brown certainly has, given that his little cronies are forced to read everything on the internet and report back to him.
No, it is bad for fans to go where they are right now and it is the job of Dodds to help keep them from having to go there.
Sure, the finances are in as good a shape as ever, with donations still coming in and merchandise flying off the shelves. But all that is still reaping the benefits of the past, when Texas did actually win, which is what is really good for the fans.
At some point, the coffers won't continue to overflow from those more fickle of revenue sources and Texas will begin to lose the competitive advantage provided by having an athletic department that produces more revenue than any other in the country.
And trying to spin losing as beneficial? An absolute load of garbage.
What isn't good for the kids is not having accountability, having a head coach they don't listen to when he talks, having a neutered strength and conditioning program that doesn't have free rein to dispense appropriate punishments.
A head coach who is losing his touch on the recruiting trail, the one area he could always point to as a massive success nearly every Signing Day. At which point he has little value to the program with his lack of apparent football acumen and public relations skills that are slowly eroded away with each hit to his program, leaving him increasingly short, testy, and liable to make inane comments like those blaming the Longhorn Network for he and his staff not doing their jobs right.
Losing certainly isn't good for recruiting, providing ammunition for negative recruiting tactics to opposing coaches, who have merely to point out the last three seasons of Texas football, which have featured massive amounts of losing compared to the previous decade.
Yet, Dodds believes that everything is fine with the football program:
We're going to have good years again. Our bad years are not that bad. Take a school like Missouri. Our bad years are better than their good years. But we've created a standard.
Unsurprisingly, SB Nation's college football editor Jason Kirk isn't buying what Dodds is selling:
The thing here: Texas doesn't get to use Missouri (or anybody) as an excuse.
Texas has major advantages over every school in the country, regularly ranking No. 1 in money (Missouri would be lucky to rank in the top half of its division) and reigning as the chief brand in the country's most football talent-dense state. The state of Texas produced 54 four- and five-star players this year, Missouri only three -- and that's standard.
And that standard that Dodds talked about? There was a standard at one point -- it was winning 10 games and competing for Big 12 and national titles, even if that whole winning-the-Big-12 thing was so easy for Bob Stoops and Oklahoma and so hard for Texas.
Where is that standard now? Texas comparing themselves to Missouri? Missouri? A never-really-has-been and probably-never-will-be football program. And apologies to Missouri if that sounds harsh, but no, Texas doesn't compare their football program to Missouri.
Until now, apparently. My, how the mighty standards have fallen.
Wait, or how about this? Since losing is good for the kids, they really are progressing at the hands of the Sooners. Dodds was asked if yet another blowout loss to Oklahoma would impact Brown's job security: "Oh, we don't think that way," Dodds told the Statesman.
And why not? Because losing to the school's biggest rival for a fourth straight year, including two blowouts is suddenly acceptable? Because watching a beleaguered Mack Brown say "It is what it is" after yet another demolition is simply what it is now? And "good for the kids"? So Mack can tell them who their real friends are?
To be fair, Dodds added, "Next year we will be having a different conversation." The question is whether that's actually a statement that another loss would actually put Brown in jeopardy or Dodds expressing his opinion that Texas football will take another step back towards serious contention next season, a common refrain, and one that may actually come to fruition, but the type of claim fans are skeptical about after hearing plenty that haven't panned out over the last few years.
Dodds has earned something of a reputation in the past as a troll, as someone who may intentionally make incendiary comments...for what reason? To control the message? To distract from another topic at hand? It's not always entirely clear.
What does seem apparent is that Dodds either doesn't get it, doesn't care to, or both. He's in the period of trying to salvage his legacy right now, but he may not have the time and capital to do it.
The Bev Kearney situation still hasn't played out, with the specter of more dirty deeds by Ol' Freak Nasty, former associate athletic director for football operations Cleve Bryant, coming to light, the already-known poor decision by Major Applewhite, and rumors floating around that there may have been other indiscretions by coaches or other members of the athletic department.
Combined all that with Rick Perry and his cronies on the Board of Regents going after President Bill Powers from the educational side and Dodds has little capital with the shot-callers who could command a forced retirement from him, which could happen before the 2013 football season if more inappropriate relationships or activities are uncovered -- which they will be if they happened, since Kearney's representatives have FOIA'd all athletic department communications.
Dodds has to be in legacy-saving mode right now, but instead he's striking the wrong notes and throwing himself behind a head coach who has been doing the same and increasingly has little value to the program.
The failures in Texas athletics right now go all the way to the top and while Dodds should be commended for his ability to keep the money flowing into the program, he and Brown are both losing the public relations battle, for reasons that are entirely their own collective faults.
And the tone-deaf comments provide further evidence that Texas, Inc. may be better off in the long run if Dodds and Brown are both gone sooner rather than later given that the platitudes aren't even really platitudes any more.