Football

Tales From The Vanpool: Partly Truth and Partly Fiction

The vanpool I ride to work in features a strange gathering of men and women who provide an eclectic daily concoction of exaggeration and downright fiction, stirred with an occasional truth or two. The riders include a former Division 1 walk-on football player at Miami, a former elementary school principal, a couple of veterans and two pregnant women. And me. Van 361 is never dull.
From this group I picked up this nugget in early November: Mack Brown would coach the Longhorns against Baylor, then immediately announce his retirement, presumably after putting this Robert Griffin III fellow in his place at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco.”My source,” my friend told me, “has never been wrong. Mack’s gone.”Six weeks later, and Mack Brown is, in fact, gone… to San Diego for the Holiday Bowl, featuring his team and the California Golden Bears. Needless to say, the whole “let’s keep RG3 from winning the Heisman” thing didn’t work out too well for the Longhorns. And all Brown said after the Baylor game was the same thing he has said after five other Texas losses this season: “We have to get better.”Over the long Christmas weekend it was also leaked by the Godfather himself – DeLoss Dodds – that in fact he would be seeking to extend the contract of Mack Brown at least through the 2016 season, when presumably the Longhorns will have finally found a starting quarterback. Brown, according to Dodds, is energetic and engaged. Two traits that he should very well carry with him when he goes to the bank each year to deposit that $5 million.Dodds also said he brought up the Brown extension because he was tired of clowns like me sitting in their prospective vanpools or break rooms speculating about Brown’s future. Hence, Brown is here to stay.The real reason for Dodds’ proclamation, though, is pretty obvious: he doesn’t want to lose the Longhorns’ burnt orange stranglehold on recruiting in Texas. A next long-term extension not only sends a message to Mack and Sally to hold off on making that house in the North Carolina hills a permanent home, but perhaps more importantly, it sends a message to all of the 17- and 18-year-old football recruits who are hearing the same rumors.’You think Coach Brown is going to leave?’ Dodds asks a youngster, “Well I’ve got $10 or $15 million or so that says he’s not going anywhere. Now, we’ll need your signature right here on the dotted line…”There are certainly more pressing concerns for the Texas team on the day of the game with the Bears. Yes, the Longhorns’ running backs are health and, yes, Texas receiver Jaxon Shipley appears to also be healthy. The defense has, at times, been lights-out under the guidance of Manny Diaz. However, 12 games into the season, the Longhorns are no clearer about their quarterback situation than they were in September. In fact, they may be less clear now about their quarterbacks than they were before.But one thing is certain: Mack Brown will be at Texas for a while and that’s a good thing. He’s had problems before, and solved them, so he has earned the trust of Longhorn Nation to find a quarterback and find a way to once again win a conference championship and play in a BCS bowl game. He’s a proven winner, a peerless recruiter and has proven to be a perfect fit in his role as Texas’ head coach. Get that signature, DeLoss.Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a van to catch. DeLoss, do you need a ride home? You can sit right here in the middle seat next to me; I’d like to bend your ear on a couple of things.