In a dramatic turn of events, breaking news during the Texas Longhorns football banquet on Friday evening indicated that embattled head coach Mack Brown may be back for another season in 2014 and that Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban is remaining in Tuscaloosa.
Minutes after new athletic director Steve Patterson said that he was hopeful he and Brown could work together for years to come, the site that sourced the original Mack Brown resignation report had some news in a different direction that was surrounded by qualifying tweets:
A source tells OB that one of the most prominent high school coaches in the state was informed in the last hour that Mack is staying.— Geoff Ketchum (@gkketch) December 14, 2013
For a school led by a coach who prides himself in maintaining high school relations, telling a prominent coach that Brown is definitely staying would be terribly bad form. There are other non-denial denials that work in that place that the coach would understand as a necessary part of such a process if Texas doesn't want to give any assurances about Brown returning that would turn out not to be true.
After the banquet, another less qualified report broke suggesting the same thing:
BREAKING: Source tells me that Mack Brown, following mtg w school prez and AD, will remain coach of the Longhorns.— Bobby Burton (@BobbyBurton247) December 14, 2013
Followed by this:
FWIW: A Texas HS football coach tells me he was informed yesterday by Texas coaches that Mack Brown is staying.— Max Olson (@max_olson) December 14, 2013
Shortly after Ketchum tweeted out his information, ESPN analyst and color commentator Kirk Herbstreit dropped another potential bombshell days after he panned Saban to Texas and claimed that he knows Saban as well as anyone:
Breaking News....Nick Saban has agreed to a multi year contract extension to STAY at Alabama! Details to come out soon!!— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) December 14, 2013
Of course, Saban avoiding signing the extension that had reportedly been on his desk since last Friday was making Alabama officials "uncomfortable," according to Paul Finebaum's report, and helping to fuel those in the Texas corner who believed that Saban was a possibility, a dream that is now apparently dead.
This tweet followed shortly after the report from Herbstreit:
High-ranking Bama source on Saban extension: Not ready to be announced but 'there's certainly understanding he'll continue to be the coach'— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerCBS) December 14, 2013
The reports were later confirmed by Alabama.
Is potentially bringing Brown back a result of Saban telling the Texas power brokers that he was staying at Alabama? Or the reverse?
Another ESPN-sourced report may provide some perspective:
Mack Brown met with Texas AD and President on Friday, and a source tells @McMurphyESPN that Brown is fighting to keep his job.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 14, 2013
If Brown is fighting for his job, as some reports on Wednesday indicated that he might and ESPN indicated that he is, and if he's received some support from Powers after the president's survival, than perhaps Texas simply decided to keep Brown and Saban then opted to sign his extension.
More likely, Saban decided to sign the contract extension on his own. There's a slight possibility that Texas is keeping Brown as a result, if Brown does indeed return, but that's pretty silly even for this often dysfunctional administration that has no one clearly in charge.
The only way that scenario seems plausible is if the Longhorns also missed on a number of other top targets. Being rejected that summarily and pursuing only a limited number of coaches with the job not being open yet both seem unlikely.
Then again, there have been some silly things that have happened recently, so it's impossible to completely rule out anything at this point -- lunatics may be running the asylum, but no one can really even identify specific lunatics calling the final shots.
Like Patterson, Brown didn't mention the future in his closing comments, but did echo Patterson's comment that he's looking forward to working with him, leaving the possibility that they do end up working together with Brown in another capacity with the athletic department -- there was no definitive talk about the future.
Combining the pure rhetoric and the report from Bobby Burton that followed the qualified information from Geoff Ketchum, it seems like Brown is probably coming back.
Sorting through the rhetoric and giving more credence to those qualifiers paints a different picture that nonetheless presents a higher probability of Brown returning than appeared likely earlier in the week, when the odds seemed high that a resignation announcement already would have come down. And the fact the report from Orangebloods about Brown's resignation that was proven wrong by timetable furthers the "Mack is staying" belief.
Add this to it all as well -- the ESPN report that said Brown is standing his ground on coming back dropped this nugget that further changes that narrative:
Brown had previously confided in those close to him that he was resigning, the source said. However, Brown was "enraged" when the news leaked to the media, and he decided to change course, according to the source.
Yup, Mack Brown may be coming back just to spite Chip Brown. Welcome to Mack Brown-Texas Football.
And so now the waiting begins again while the Nick Saban dream dies and the almost impossible to comprehend possibility that Mack Brown is the head football coach for Texas still when the 2014 season opens next August is suddenly highly plausible once again, if not likely.