What university president Bill Powers called the "unbelievable legacy" of outgoing Texas Longhorns head coach Mack Brown is now officially up for discussion after Brown's Saturday resignation and a Sunday afternoon press conference that represented the first serious opportunity to put his career and the way it ended into perspective.
"We're transitioning from one of the all-time great human beings and football coaches," Powers said, providing some of that perspective.
For his part, Brown was upbeat and positive, saying that he has no regrets and no anger and that he only wants what is best for the school, a position that new athletics director Steve Patterson echoed later in the press conference. Brown even dropped a joking reference to the Topeka-based report from a radio station that he was stepping down in 2011.
"I love the University of Texas and want what's best for it," Brown said simply.
Brown was also extremely candid in talking about the negativity around the program, his inability to provide a four-year commitment to recruits, and the fact that he hasn't met the standards that he himself set, saying that he agrees with the critics who point to the failures since 2010.
"We have to get it back to top five in the country and we weren't doing that. And that was really bothering me," Brown said.
Saying that life is too short for negative energy, Brown said that he it wasn't fair for the players and their families to go through all the questions about his job security, questions that have persisted since 2010 as Brown fought to get things back for the next coach, a process he was never quite able to complete.
"We set a standard at this place -- you better win all of them. I understand that. I'm a big boy. We didn't live up to the standard. The standard's really high here and I'm proud to have been a part of setting it."
During the Friday meeting with Powers and Patterson, Brown said that both told him that would have a chance to stay if he wanted. The longtime head coach slept on it, talked about it with his wife, and when the three men met on Saturday, Brown said that the mutual decision was made for him to step aside.
"I want to make sure everyone knows that I was treated fairly. ... I was told I could stay. I felt like I could stay. I didn't feel like it was best for the university. I thought they needed a change," Brown said.
Brown acknowledged that he went back and forth about the decision all week, a subtle acknowledgment that the reports from Orangebloods on Tuesday may have made an impact on the timing of the announcement, which was widely expected to happen prior to Friday's banquet.
Then, asked if there was anything that he would change at Texas, Brown didn't mention winning more games or not losing Colt McCoy in the national championship game against Alabama, but instead pointed to the death of Cole Pittman in a car accident and the tragic bonfire collapse at Texas A&M as the two moments he wish hadn't happened, a remarkable and off-the-cuff insight into his humanity.
There was also some clarification about Brown's future as a special advisor to the president. According to Powers, it's a job that Brown can keep if he takes another job as a consultant or in television, the latter a destination that has been widely discussed in recent years.
However, the situation with a potential buyout was less clear -- the number stood at $2.75 million were Brown to be fired, but with Brown billing the decision as mutual, that was not the case. Powers said that they did have some discussions about his contract terms and that they were clarified, but declined to elaborate further.
And those Texas fans hoping for an NFL head coach were surely disappointed by Patterson noting the differences in what it takes as a head coach and saying that the next Texas head coach will have "extensive experience in the college game."
"College football is a different enterprise than the NFL. There are far different requirements," Patterson said.
As for a timetable, Patterson joked that he would like to have a coach in place by Tuesday, but admitted that probably won't happen. The first step, he said, is to establish the criteria for what they are looking for in a new coach, then start to match up names with those criterion, then work "expeditiously" to make it happen.
The foremost criterion, as laid out by Patterson, is that "You've gotta win. Gotta win big."
Beyond that obvious fact, one heavily influenced by Brown's efforts in raising the standards at Texas, Patterson cited the normal things like recruiting, handling the media, and handling that scrutiny that comes with living in the fishbowl of Texas football.
When that hire happens, Powers was adamant that Patterson would be the one making the final call, saying that athletics is not his field. Brown said that he's willing to help out with the process if asked by Powers and Patterson, but has no interest in interjecting himself into the coaching search -- there will be no power struggle with Brown trying to get his ideal successor in place, perhaps a lesson he learned during the ill-fated coach-in-waiting situation with Will Muschamp.
Powers also denied any contact with Nick Saban or his agent and said that he was not influenced or approached by any of the regents about getting rid of Brown.
For his part, Patterson said that he's not worried about the pressure associated with the job and the hiring process because "I've been operating in this universe my whole adult life."
He was also adamant in saying that he has not yet contacted any coaches about the position and that he will not be providing blow-by-blow updates about every coach with whom he speaks or meets with.
In the end, as much as many have been looking forward to a new coach and the coaching search itself, a few words from Powers ring true.
"Mack is going to be a tough act to follow."