The Texas Football Coaching Carousel

Texas A&M head coach Mike Sherman marches on as gossip swirls about University of Texas’s Mack Brown’s departure and University of Houston’s Kevin Sumlin’s future. 
Mon December 5, 2011 8:50 pm
David J. Phillip | Associated Press

Texas A&M head coach Mike Sherman marches on as gossip swirls about University of Texas’s Mack Brown’s departure and University of Houston’s Kevin Sumlin’s future. 

SHERMAN’S MARCH
Last week, as all but the most sports-oblivious already know, Texas A&M fired its head football coach Mike Sherman, who went 25–25 over four seasons, and 6–6 this year.

Sherman got the boot for several reasons: the Aggies didn’t live up to preseason expectations ; they didn’t beat UT this year; and because, even at its triumphant moment of “SECession,” its athletic department has something of a reality-show vibe. (See last week’s Jeff Toole message board incident. Or these August emails between Toole and athletic director Bill Byrne about the SEC move. Or Friday’s report from Brent Zwerneman of the San Antonio Express-News and the Houston Chronicle that Byrne was next.)

In any case, ESPN.com national college football columnist Ivan Maisel thinks that Sherman was robbed, suggesting that “the Aggies will take a real step backward,” heading into the SEC.

Maisel also observed that “the last three coaches have been fired for being mediocre while Mack Brown turned Texas into a national power. The Aggies are running to the SEC, where Brown, who’s fighting a little mediocrity of his own, doesn’t coach.” 

MACK’S DENIAL
Funny Maisel should mention Mack because somehow, in the lead-up to and aftermath of UT’s loss to Baylor Saturday, Mack Brown became the subject of the coaching rumor mill himself.

It started with a tweet from a Topeka, Kansas, radio host and was quickly denied everywhere from the Alcalde to Burnt Orange Nation , but it still had enough traction that Brown addressed it Saturday.

Brown said (as quoted on Dallasnews.com), “I promise you this, when I do retire, I promise you it won’t come from a twit or Twitter from Topeka, Kansas.” (Other writers, including Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman , chose to edit Brown’s longer “twit or twitter” construction to “(tweet),” which is considerably less fun.)

But Sunday, the popular blog Sports by Brooks tweeted out the same scenario: “Multiple sources, including one inside UT football program, told me today Mack Brown will likely be forced out at Texas.”

In no time at all, there was a #mackbrown Twitter hashtag, and David Guenthner of the Texas Public Policy Foundation felt compelled to  assure his followers that Mack was not the reason for the UT Board of Regents meeting today.

After all the requisite denials from UT came out for a second time, Brooks stood by his story—though between the “likely” and the lack of an actual timetable, he’s got a lot of wiggle room.

SUMLIN’S MOVE
But wait, there's more! This news involves the college football coach in Texas around whom there is genuine suspense: the University of Houston’s Kevin Sumlin.

On Saturday, CBS Houston claimed Sumlin, a former Aggies assistant, would be hired by Texas A&M within 24 hours. They were hardly the only outlet to put out that rumor—just the only one to treat it as as fact.

As the Daily Cougar noted, Sumlin refuted that report, saying, “I haven't talked to anybody,” and reminding the press he had previously said he wouldn’t do so “during the football season.” (Is it still football season? That is, does the bowl game count?)

But, Zwerneman wrote on Sunday, Houston’s bad loss to Southern Miss on Saturday may have slowed the “Sumlin train” to College Station.

According to Zwerneman, Sumlin became fast frontrunner becase of a relationship with Sugar Land-based A&M regent James Wilson, but other “influential Aggies” have since hit the brakes. “The idea being that A&M’s football future shouldn’t be determined by a sports-happy regent who tabs a coach because he gets to hang with him,” Zwerneman wrote.

Zwerneman said Sumlin is now just one of several candidates for the job, including the Southern Miss coach who beat him and College Station-native Larry Fedora. Zwerneman also walked back his own “insider” report that Byrne would soon be gone, saying that another insider told him Byrne was part of the search for a new coach.

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