Mack Brown must understand the concept of windshield wipers because he wasn’t in the room when the man who gave him the keys to a castle retired.
While DeLoss Dodds was announcing his plans to abdicate the athletic director’s throne on Tuesday afternoon, Brown was presumably putting the finishing touches on the Iowa State game plan. It’s an early game week with the Thursday night kickoff, so it’s almost understandable that Brown was at practice.
So to the thousands who have already wondered, “Where is he going with that windshield line?” allow me to explain.
Have you ever turned on the wipers during a storm and cursed aloud because they weren’t doing the job? Even when you put it on the highest setting, the windshield retains a muddy consistency as you grapple with the fear of rear-ending a semi?
It’s similar to what Brown has endured over the past month. He’s in the middle of a storm, and he’s trying to get those wipers to work. But the mud doesn’t seem to be dissipating, even though the win over Kansas State did serve as a nice substitute for Windex.
For those non-abstract thinkers out there, the storm is this football season and the mud on the windshield is all the other things happening around the program while Brown tries to keep the team from going into the tank.
It’s amazing how so many other issues always seem to crop up around teams that aren’t winning on the regular.
Take Mack’s team, for instance.
After successive blowout losses to BYU and Ole Miss, former Texas linebacker Brian Jones railed against Brown in separate radio interviews, calling for his dismissal. One week later, Chris Simms, Brown’s most heralded national out-of-state recruit and the most polarizing player ever to play for him here, criticized his former coach’s recruiting methods and predicted that this would be Brown’s last season.
The biggest blow came Sunday from a Texas legend. Hall of Famer Earl Campbell told a Houston television station that it’s time for Brown to go and endorsed ex-teammate Jerry Gray as a replacement.
Adding to that the untimely passing of legendary quarterback James Street and Dodds’ retirement, and Brown has a job on his hands this week. It could be easy to let the news of the day supersede what’s actually a must-win game in the grand scheme.
“Our coaches and our players are only worried about the now, and that’s beating Iowa State and getting to 2-0 in the conference,” Brown said Monday.
Good answer, Mack. There have been instances when you spent too much energy giving answers to questions that didn’t really matter (the Jameis Winston recruitment, for one), when that time was better served fixing what ailed your team.
Now, with everything happening on campus, it’s easy to forget there is a football game very soon — and let’s not get lost in the fact that it’s against a team that’s known for its success in non-Saturday outings. Iowa State is 10-2 in its last 12 Thursday night games, and head coach Paul Rhoads has beaten at least one ranked team in each of the past three seasons.
The biggest came in 2011, when Oklahoma State brought a 10-0 record and a No. 2 ranking into Ames for a rare Friday night game. In what was otherwise a historic season in Stillwater, the OSU campus was reeling over the news that women’s head basketball coach Kurt Budke and an assistant coach had been killed in a plane crash one day earlier. The Cyclones won in overtime 37-31.
The Horns travel north knowing they can’t just flash the Bevo sign and automatically register wins like some great teams from seasons past, so any talk of the Cyclones sneaking up on Texas was quickly dismissed Monday.
“We don’t think it’s a trap game,” senior guard Trey Hopkins said. “I don’t think anyone is underestimating them.”
The Horns’ last road trip was an unmitigated disaster at BYU, but Brown believes his team has progressed, particularly a defense that now has more than three full weeks under new coordinator Greg Robinson. Firing Manny Diaz the day after Provo was a distraction in itself, but one Brown deemed necessary, given the horrid performance in Utah.
“We didn’t handle the environment very well out at Brigham Young,” Brown said. “It will be a similar type environment up at Ames. We’re only taking the guys we trust on the field and have shown a passion to be 2-0 Thursday night.”
And maybe some Windex?
TEXAS AT IOWA STATE
6:30 p.m. Thursday, Ames, Iowa, ESPN, 1300, 98.1
LIVE CHAT TODAY
Join columnists Kirk Bohls and Cedric Golden at 11 a.m. Wednesday for their weekly chat at statesman.com/bevobeat.
HORNS, THE BIG PICTURE
How does Texas compare?
Where the Longhorns rank in the Big 12 and nationally in various categories after four games. Parentheses show last week’s rankings:
Rush offense;3rd (3);T-37th (53)
Pass offense;4th (4);36th (41)
Pass efficiency;5th (4);50th (10)
Total offense;3rd (5);31st (40)
Scoring;5th (5);56th (23)
Rush defense;10th (10);117th (88)
Pass defense;6th (7);42nd (36)
Total defense;10th (10);109th (67)
Sacks;8th (8);T-83 (19)
Turnover margin;4th (3);T-13th (39)
The season so far
Texas 56, New Mexico State 7: David Ash, Daje Johnson lead a record-breaking offensive night.
BYU 40, Texas 21: Horns implode defensively and see Ash, Johnson get injured.
Ole Miss 44, Texas 23: No Ash, little defense and a second-half implosion against the ranked Rebels.
Texas 31, Kansas St. 21: Johnathan Gray and the defense lead Horns to Big 12-opening W.
2013 vs. 2012, 2011
How the Longhorns (2-2) compare statistically with the 2012 and 2011 teams’ averages and totals after four games (* average per game):