Next 48 hours will define Mack Brown's legacy, future of Texas football

USA TODAY Sports

It's all going down. Domino after domino until the denouement.

Approaching the original 48-hour window for a decision to come down about the status of head coach Mack Brown, Texas Longhorns football enters another 48-hour stretch that will represent the most drastic change in the program's modern history on Thursday in what are likely the final moments of Mack Brown-Texas Football.

And then there will be another ideally short window of time that will define the program's future.

The events that will unfold between Thursday morning and the football banquet on Friday night will play an incredible role in the eventual history of what is arguably the nation's most prestigious football program.

First, Brown makes his return to Texas soil after his recruiting trips in Florida in the days since he left new athletics director Steve Patterson following their stay for National Football Foundation functions, the first time the two men had a chance to interact and discuss the future since Patterson took over for staunch Brown ally DeLoss Dodds.

Not just a return, but a return for what will be the most dramatic press conference of Brown's time at Texas, more dramatic even then the somber affairs that followed the last two blowouts to Oklahoma. Ostensibly, he's meeting with the media to talk about the Alamo Bowl match up against the Oregon Ducks, but, uh, it's going to be hard for Brown to keep the focus on the team, as much as he will surely use that line.

The operative word seems to be contentious, as Brown will be in the same room with the originator of Tuesday's report that sent this whole operation into massive overdrive -- Orangebloods' Chip Brown, who may well let someone else ask the difficult question that is surely coming as soon as Brown finishes his opening remarks.

The questioner, of course, doesn't matter as much as how Brown handles that question. Clearly, he's still in denial mode publicly because he hasn't had a chance to speak with his team personally and will not have a chance to do that until after the press conference, but his demeanor will be highly scrutinized as he brushes off the reports of his own demise.

Again -- high drama expected.

And then there's the specter of the Board of Regents meeting that will begin at 2:30 p.m. Central that may determine the future of university president Bill Powers and may include a vote on his removal, though there isn't any reason at this point to suspect that the Perry loyalists will have the five votes necessary to oust the well-regarded president who is the last remaining Brown ally in power.

Which raises the question of what role Brown's still officially uncertain future will have in that meeting.

Those are the two major known events leading up to the a football banquet on Friday evening that will represent the point at which an official announcement would likely be made with all speculation pointing towards the athletics department looking to make a quick transition to the next head coach following Brown's resignation.

The dead period in recruiting lasts from next Monday, December 16, through the middle of January -- that's the extended timetable for getting a coach in place. In reality, it would ideally happen sooner, as quickly as possible after the resignation, though if there is actually any chance that a noted NFL coach takes the job, that won't happen until the end of the regular season or the NFL playoffs, depending on the respective coach and team involved.

Same thing for Florida State Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher. And Auburn Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn.

Not to say any of those names are legitimate or likely at this point -- in an odd way all of them as less likely than Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban, clearly the runaway favorite to be the first choice, assuming the Powers doesn't object in a way that could alter that course once entered upon by other shot callers and Saban himself.

The guess here would be to call that a political impossibility given the precarious position of Powers, who may not want to spend valuable capital fighting an essentially irresistible force.

All that discussion, however, moves well ahead of the banquet -- there's still that crucial 24-hour period between the Board of Regents meeting and the crucial team and recruiting event on Friday evening, a period in which Brown will determine how the final chapter of his legacy gets written.

He can go out with whatever dignity and respect is left having little ability to dictate the final terms of these reports or he can further denigrate his substantial legacy by fighting a losing cause, a potentially sad way to remember a coach who has pulled back together so many formerly disparate elements of the sleeping Texas juggernaut.

There was some buzz on Wednesday afternoon that players were starting to receive word about a decision, but the most likely time for the team to find out is during that period between Thursday evening and Friday evening, assuming that Brown opts for the dignified exit.

An official announcement should follow after that, probably some time on Friday in advance of the banquet.

And then the coaching search will begin in interest, with Nick Saban at the center of a hiring process that could prove to be unprecedented in the history of modern college football, even if Saban doesn't take the job.

Dysfunctional is a word that has been thrown around a lot in the last 24 hours with the Texas program as so many sources on the Longhorns side have been talking, political turmoil still embroils the university president, it's not clear who exactly is making decisions after the rogue Regents contacted Nick Saban's agents in the first place, and the new athletic director adjusts to his new job with the most important decision of his tenure being the first.

A final fact dominated, however, by questions about how much power Patterson actually has in all this, going back to the decision-making questions that surfaced in the odd circulatory comments of DeLoss Dodds when he was trying to hide the end of his own illustrious Texas career.

Now there are questions, starting with the publicly-posed questions to Brown in his telling press conference in the morning, the private questions the Board of Regents will have for Powers when they meet in the afternoon, and the questions posed by the mysterious, mythical shot callers, whomever they may be, in the time after the Board of Regents meeting and before the banquet.

The questions about when and how the announcement from Brown happens in the critical hours between the BOR meeting and the drama of what should be an extraordinary football banquet on Friday evening.

Very soon, there will be answers, one after the other and all of them will to some extent shake and fundamentally alter the foundation of Texas football, the premier entity of the nation's richest athletics department.

Big, all of it, crescendoing with the announcement of the next Texas Longhorns head coach football, ideally as soon as possible in the days after Friday's critical banquet, as unmatched resources will come to bear on finding the replacement for the second-best coach in program history.

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