John Mackovic is not remembered especially fondly by Longhorns fans, but his career in Austin wasn't without accomplishment. When he took over the program from David McWilliams in 1992, the Longhorns immediately upped their scoring average nearly nine points per game, to 26.5. In his fourth season, 1995, he tied Oklahoma, finished 7-0 in the SWC, and took Texas to the Sugar Bowl. And a year later, of course, he gave Texas football fans one of the great memories in program history:
"What a call by Mackovic!"
Unfortunately for John Mackovic, the wheels came off in 1997 when Texas finished a woeful 4-7 overall, 2-6 in conference, including an embarrassing loss to the Baylor Bears. That was more than enough excuse for Deloss Dodds to show him the door, an ouster for which many movers and shakers near the program had been eager, anyway. The cerebral, reserved, decidedly not-Texan coach was perceived by many as an effete, wine-sipping softy who was out of touch with the values of Texas football.
Truthfully, he probably was, and though Mackovic recruited significantly better than his predecessor, he was throughout his career (Texas and otherwise) plagued by an inability to relate to football culture. He didn't relate especially well with players, and he definitely didn't fit in with the Good Ol' Boys who fund the Texas football machine.
But how did he do as an offensive coach?
TEXAS OFFENSE UNDER JOHN MACKOVIC
Though Texas fans largely remember Mackovic for his team's miserable 1997 showing, the offensive trend before the collapse was largely upward:
What's really odd is that personnel-wise 1997 should have been a good year for Mackovic, with Ricky Williams a junior and James Brown a senior. But just as his star tailback was setting the stage for a senior-year Heisman run, the quarterback who had rescued the two previous seasons finally turned into a pumpkin.
James Brown's theretofore remarkable Texas career ended horribly, as he completed just 49.8% of his passes in 1997, including a mere 5 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. The offense became predictable, the defense was atrocious, and Texas fans watched in horror as Baylor fans tore down goal posts.
Mackovic's fate was sealed and by December, Mack Brown had been introduced as the school's new football coach. With James Brown graduating, Brown and his offensive coordinator Greg Davis set to work on trying to get Ricky Williams to stay for his senior season. Senior Richard Walton, upstaged his first three years by James Brown, would return as the team's presumptive signal caller.
The Greg Davis Era was set to begin...
THE GREG DAVIS REVIEW, PART 1