At this point, it seems as if Texas Longhorns athletic director DeLoss Dodds and head coach Mack Brown can't speak publicly without saying something that strikes a wrong tone with someone, whether it be Texas fans, rival fans, or the fans of former rival schools.
The latest supposed misstep seems rather more innocuous than Brown's comments deriding unhappy Texas fans or ripping the Longhorn Network publicly, but that hasn't stopped people from using it as another excuse to make fun of his team.
On Thursday, Brown tweeted out a picture of the team's shiny new Alamo Bowl rings:
Just gave guys their Bowl Champ rings. Told them It's reward 4 winning Bowl game vs #13 Oregon St &momentum for 2013 twitter.com/UT_MackBrown/s…— Mack Brown (@UT_MackBrown) May 2, 2013
Not that big of a deal, right? Plenty of teams make rings for bowl games. Virtually all of them, in fact, including Florida for winning the Gator Bowl over a 6-6 opponent several years ago.
Georgia even handed out a ring for winning the SEC East, which, while an accomplishment, isn't exactly on the same level as winning the SEC West these days.
Apparently the rings are a big deal, or at least the way that Brown sold them in his tweet -- "momentum" has been a word that Brown has thrown around quite a bit in regards to the Alamo Bowl win and while it's hard to argue with that because winning the bowl game is important to set the tone for the offseason, Crimson and Cream Machine writer Jordan Esco seized on the it to make fun of the rings as "participation ribbons."
The inclusion of the momentum talk was probably ill-advised in retrospect and indicative of how quickly and easily simple diction can deteriorate into yet another Mack Brown bash-fest.
Even Sailor Ripley wasn't too thrilled about the rings over at Barking Carnival, likewise seeing them as part of a culture that excessively rewards small and expected accomplishments.
SAEN writer Mike Finger thinks that it was the tweet that may not have been the best idea:
Giving out Alamo Bowl rings? Perfectly fine. But tweeting about giving out Alamo Bowl rings? You sort of have to know what's coming, right?— Mike Finger (@mikefinger) May 3, 2013
One person on Twitter summed up what seems to be a rather prevailing sentiment these days:
"If you keep lowering your expectations you never lose." - Mack Brown— Bandit Ref (@banditref) May 3, 2013
Of course, as it regards the Sooners, at least one Oklahoma fan doesn't feel like they are in a position to pass judgement:
This is accurate. RT @ozzdotnet As an OU fan, I don't think I can talk ring/banner smack this year.— David Ubben (@davidubben) May 3, 2013
Why should Sooners be careful about laughing too hard? They made Big 12 Champion rings this year, even though they split the Big 12 title with Kansas State, with the co-champion part is notably missing from the ring.
But how justified Oklahoma fans are in laughing at Texas isn't really a true point of contention here -- they have earned the right to laugh at the 'Horns as much as they want after the last two Red River Rivalry contests.
The true point is that Brown and Dodds have exacerbated all the losing with those repeated tone-deaf statements. And simply losing is bad enough, but consistent Cotton Bowl-style massacres in the public relations battle have only made things worse, to the point where making a ring from a mediocre bowl is enough to become a source of scorn.
Basically, it has come to this:
Twitter rules for Texas: Short, modest pat on the back for national titles. No celebrating anything else ever, for any reason.— David Ubben (@davidubben) May 3, 2013
The bottom line? Mack Brown can't win the public perception war. Until he starts winning again.