After the loss in the Oklahoma Game in October of 2004, Mack reportedly told a disheartened Vince Young to just go out and be himself. Vince Young didn't lose another game as a Texas Longhorn.
For Mack's historic run of 10+ win seasons, he was always a great recruiter, but there was also something else there... he was loyal, arguably to a fault. Vince Young and Colt McCoy thrived for 7 years of ridiculous success under the much maligned Greg Davis. Greg Davis was a fan scapegoat for years and his, at times, inept play calling had fans, myself included, fuming and calling for his head (remember the Greg Davis special, the sideways pass to the running back that resulted in a run out of bounds 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage 9/10 times it was called?) But as bad as he was, he had a successful system in place at Texas and Mack trusted Him. Mack's job as a head coach and CEO was predicated on stability and continuing to do what worked, even under fan pressure.
Texas ran the spread under Davis for the Vince and Colt eras. These guys had wild success with it. The title game vs Bama was lost when Colt went out with the shoulder injury, though and this showed an epic flaw in that system - you need your front man out there all the time. Seeing how losing one guy could lose a game for you caused Mack to have a knee jerk reaction and change his team's offensive mentality entirely. The 2010 season would see the implementation of a ground and pound, pocket passing style of play, or an attempt at it. The issue was, Davis was a spread coordinator, and probably had no idea how to implement a running style of offense. This shortfall on Davis' part was exacerbated by the fact that Texas was loaded with stud recruits who were recruited to run THE SPREAD. 2010, in my recollection, was not a successful year.
2011 saw Mack encouraging Davis into retirement and the entrance of Harsin. Muschamp also left, which turned the reigns of his talented Defense over to the boy genius, Manny Diaz. The offense struggled in '11, likely due to a personnel mismatch between recruits and Harsin's offense, but the Defense seemed to thrive. Diaz' schemes though, were not likely the cause, but instead a talented and experienced roster. 2012 was year 2 under Diaz and his complicated schemes seemed like too much to handle for young athletes who were lacking in fundamentals. Harsin's Offense, though, seemed to pick up.
Enter 2013. Expectations were high going into week 1 vs New Mexico State, but those expectations were unrealistic. Harsin left in the offseason. This would not necessarily have been a crippling loss, were it not for the complete makeover of the offensive mentality. Mack wants to score faster and run more plays... so he and Applewhite agreed to go back to a spread style of offense. Who has Texas been recruiting for the past 4 years though? Kids who were suited to the ground and pound game. And the Defense? Diaz proved inept much of last year, but Mack decided to stay with him. This has been one of Mack's hallmarks, trusting his guys to deliver and fix things, even when fans call for heads. Mack only let Diaz fail once though and replaced him 2 games into the season. Now the D has to learn a new defense, in the middle of a season.
The point I'm trying to make through my rambling here is that Mack has been great for the program and has had great success because he has provided stability. He got a system going and stuck with it. Even when his D coordinators switched before Diaz' introduction, they ran similar schemes to each other, schemes that were fundamentally sound. It wasn't until Mack decided to overhaul a program that was humming along well, that things fell apart. It wasn't until Mack lost his loyalty and trust in his guys, that the losses really started to pile up. Mack told Vince to play HIS game, to be himself. Mack seems to have forgotten who he is or was. He lost the stability that the program he built relied on and I think the school is not patient enough for him to rediscover it.
I still have foolishly high hopes for this season. I still expect to win every game, but my hopes for Mack's return in 2014 are all but lost.