The End of the Will Muschamp Era in Austin In Sight?

A little less than two years ago, I wrote a fanpost here on Burnt Orange Nation not long after news broke that defensive coordinator had been named the 'coach-in-waiting' of the Texas Longhorns. Longhorns' fans were understandably excited about Muschamp - both his immediate impact on the defense in '08, and the prospect of him taking over the head coaching reins when Mack Brown opted to retire.

Here's a few excerpts from the post:

* This is not binding. All this is for now, at least in the worst case scenario for us, is extra leverage for Muschamp to up the stakes at the negotiating table if some serpentile school approached him regardless of this arrangement. We can all agree that Texas is a better job than the Miami Dolphins or the LSU Tigers were in the case of Nick Saban, or similarly with basketball coach Billy Donovan, and on and on. But the bottom line is there are huge egos involved in this game and in the coaching profession. Schools come a knocking with offers of $3+ mil..? $900k is nice, but it's still chump change even compared to what guys like Mike Leach make at fairly average reveue generating schools like Texas Tech.

* How Long Is Too Long To Have To Wait? Sure, it's a dream come true to have your first head coaching job be at the University of Texas. A fairy tale. But a couple of things. First, and let me emphasize that there's no way at all this would cross Muschamp's mind until the mega dollar signs were dangled in front on his face...but Mack Browns first head coaching job at App State came at age 32. His first 'major' job was at UNC at age 37 after being hired at Tulane at age 35. If Mack were to walk away at the end of next year and made his intentions known perhaps during the two-three weeks leading up to Bowl season, then I could see it all falling into place nicely. Particularly if Brown's '09 Horns were undefeated and going to play in a Title game. That'd be a nice Mack'esque story to go out in the sunset to and Muschamp would obviously be right there ready to take over.

But what if no announcement was made near or at the end of 2009? Might Muschamp get antsy then? Would he wait until he's almost 40 years old to try his hand as a head coach? Again, if nothing else, I hope that we all can agree (in addition to this being one the top three or four jobs out there at worst) that schools will continue to keep knocking on his door in the future. If it's just one year to wait, or if Brown might say 2010 would be his last not far removed from the end of the 2009 season, then I think all will be well. But if not. I dunno.

I then asked why exactly should we believe that Brown is so close to being ready to retire?

Furthermore, is Mack Brown really going to retire with one or two conference championships under his belt?? At age 58 with plenty of physical vigor left in him? ... As I mentioned, Joe Paterno is like 115 and B. Bowdens on his tail. Cripes.... Jim Tressel is one year younger than Mack at 56 and I don't see him calling it quits anytime soon. Tressel's had a similar trajectory to Brown. Peaking in his late 40s and 50s. Why stop now when the going's just starting to get real good? Even though we all know the truth of the matter when it comes to which is the better job - Texas or Ohio State - they both carry the same CEO type responsibilities that can be physically taxing, but certainly navigable with all the financial resources available to delegate.

And Pete Carrol? The same age! Carrol's waiving his pom poms and....I won't continue. I don't know Mack Brown personally and I don't know what his ambitions in life are. But if they are most heavily centered around coaching and being remembered as one of the greats, it's insane to think he's ready to pack it in, even if he does win another Big 12 and perhaps MNC in '08 or '09.

I think we've learned this about Mack Brown this past year: He's a competitive SOB. Sorry, unless the Horns catch snake eyes and win the Big 12 this year and/or are in position for a conf title and MNC next year, I, just for the moment, have a hard time seeing Mack walk away at the end of 2009 with what we know about his competitive spirit and his easy to misinterpret resume. And next year's no slam dunk. We all know better than to put our faith in the athletes, so if McCoy were to leave after this year....

Lots still in play here. Far more than just the guaranteed possibility of Will Boom-Father Muschamp remaining in Austin for years to come. Just one Horns' fan opinions, but I'll get my concerns on the record first I suppose.

P.S. It's not like Deloss Dodds, Coach Royal and Mack Brown are going all-in with this move. There's this guy named Major ready to step in the case of an emergency. Texans love their own and many fans like to hate on Texas around the country. Muschamp leaves, particularly to SEC country, people rationalize, or at least forgive and forget. For us Horns fans? We get our guy in Major. Kumbaya.

Lots still in play though in my humble opinion.

The general sentiment then was that I was dumb to think that Muschamp wouldn't wait patiently in Austin to get his first shot at being a head coach. The head coaching job that Muschamp would be stepping into at UT is arguably the very best in the country - the facilities, tradition, living in Austin, $$$, recruiting grounds, and last but certainly not least, inheriting the powerhouse, well-oiled machine that Mack built. You'd think then that it'd be an easy decision to just wait it out, even if it was another five years or so.

That may be sound logic, but humans typically aren't that rationale. We're especially prone to lapses in judgment when there's money/power/recognition involved, and when our competitive juices are flowing and we believe we're ready to get after it now. Muschamp seems like a fiery, self-confident individual. I have a hard time believing he'll not want to satiate that appetite to test himself soon, to see how he stacks up as 'the guy'.

In the comments section, there was also a heated discussion about the money factor - how even though Muschamp makes incredible money as is, he'd be in line for a 200-300% raise if he took a head coaching job. I understand that there's more to life than money.... believe me, I do. But when you get offered that much more to more or less do the same thing - live, breathe, sleep football - it makes sense to follow the money.

A tiny fraction of college coaches end up being legendary mainstays at programs for 10, 20, 30+ years. The vast majority come and go fairly quickly, migrating from coordinators position in college and the pros for most of their careers. Yes, all are blessed to make solid money doing what they love, but the smart ones know their earning power is not guaranteed beyond the length of their existing contract. There is very little loyalty in sports simply because if you're good, there's almost always a bigger paycheck awaiting you somewhere else. There are literally thousands and thousands of examples of players and coaches making decisions that make very little sense outside of the money factor.

Changing gears.

I didn't understand why Brown was considering retirement then, and I definitely don't know. I think it's safe to assume that Brown ain't walking away after this season. Lots of football left to be played, but Browns' streak of 10-win seasons is in serious jeopardy. I haven't watched closely enough to make a guess one way or another about how the Horns will do this next two months. (I don't think we're going to see a losing record or anything like that, but regardless, whether we win 7, 8, or 9 games, it's hard to envision Brown ending such a wonderful run in Austin after a year that's clearly a rebuilding year.)

If Brown returns for the 2011 season, I think Muschamp is all but gone. I wouldn't blame him either. I'm of course just speculating from afar, but I simply can't see Brown retiring when he's not yet even 60 years old. He's a Hall of Fame coach, program builder, and person, but to the outside world who sloppily categorizes things and people, Brown is just a 'very good' coach who has only won one conference championship with anybody other than Vince Young playing quarterback for him.

Running long, but a quick note on the 'X' Factor: the family.... or more to the point, his wife. (I don't know how old his child(ren) is/are, but it doesn't really matter what they want. Kids make friends in new places easily, if Dad wants to go be a head coach, sorry kids, you'll just have to get befriended by everybody in a new school somewhere in the South).

Peter, my brother, has told me several times that Mrs. Muschamp loves Austin, loves her friends and family life in the city, and would very much like to settle into a long life in Central Texas. She's got good taste obviously. So what gives? Women are generally speaking much better than men at communicating what it is they want and why. If she'd really like to continue building a life in Austin, then Muschamp's decision becomes tougher. What do you do when you really want to pursue two things?: a rewarding marriage and family life that's based on frequent compromise and self-sacrifice, or your dreams to be a head coach now at a major program?

As for destinations? Marc Richt's days at Georgia look to be numbered. Ole Miss, as well, but that is a significant downgrade in resources that I doubt Muschamp would be enticed by. The Tennessee job may be open again next year as well. And to those who are thinking, 'why would he go to a shithole that's in shambles like Tennessee' - just remember, it's all about the recruits you get, and Tennessee was raking in prize recruits within a few months of the Lane Kiffin era. Texas is a better gig, no doubt, but there's more than enough to like in Knoxville facilities/resources wise and to maybe lure him away.

My money though is on Muschamp heading to Athens, Georgia next spring after Brown decides to stick around for at least one more season. Tougher to win at Georgia than at Texas, but the money will be right, there's plenty of access to top-tier talent, and with regards to lifestyle, of all the SEC cities to live in, Athens is certainly an attractive option.

Thanks for reading and your opinions. Sorry it was long. I hope I'm right if only because I want to see Mack stay on for another five to ten years. It'd be great to see Muschamp wait around in that hypothetical, but then again, there's nothing that guarantees Muschamp will be a great head coach like Mack Brown turned out to be. There have been countless fiery, competent and in-demand coordinators that have gone on to be flops as head coaches. So whatever happens, happens. I just want to see Brown get his due in the national spotlight again before calling it a career.

Hook Em

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