University of Texas President Bill Powers took to his “Tower Talk” blog today to let the world know Mack Brown isn’t going anywhere.
“Now that the Longhorn football team has finished its regular season, there has been an increase in media speculation about Coach Mack Brown’s future,” Powers wrote in a blog post headlined Mack Brown Has My Full Support. “Put succinctly, Mack Brown is and will remain the Longhorns’ head football coach.”
In sports, this is what is usually called the “dreaded vote of confidence.” That’s when the general manager of a pro team, or athletic director of a college team, assures the media that an embattled coach is not going to get fired… and keeps doing so until it finally happens.
Take Dallas Cowboys owner and GM Jerry Jones, for example. Here’s Jones regarding head coach Wade Phillips in September of 2010.
“I can just give you a very affirmative ‘no,'” Jones told KRLD-FM in Dallas when asked whether he has lost any confidence in his coach, or if Phillips could be fired if the Cowboys fall to 0-3.
And on October 31:
“You all know that I am not in any way for making changes.”
Phillips was fired on November 10
The dreaded vote of confidence is a close cousin to the undying vow of loyalty, which is when a hot coach promises the press and fans he isn’t leaving for a better job. That coach probably also said, “I’m going to be here for the rest of my career. It’s a great place to raise a family,” when he was hired.
In other words, most statements like Powers’s turn out to be meaningless. But coming from the president of a public university–someone who you’d think has to be at least a little more committed to the truth than somebody whose only purview is athletics–it probably counts for something.
Not to mention that it was already pretty clear, even to the fans, bloggers, and sportswriters who most want Mack Brown to retire, that he isn’t going anywhere this off-season. That was true after the team got beaten up by Oklahoma. It was true when the team was 6-2 (as I wrote for Texas Monthly and the New York Times back then). And it’s still true now that the Horns are 8-4, regardless of what happens in the Alamo Bowl.
Powers’s statement in full:
Now that the Longhorn football team has finished its regular season, there has been an increase in media speculation about Coach Mack Brown’s future. I’d like to state unequivocally that Coach Brown has my full support as well as the support of Men’s Athletics Director DeLoss Dodds. Put succinctly, Mack Brown is and will remain the Longhorns’ head football coach.
Coach Brown restored Texas’ winning tradition. He embodies the Texas character, is a superb ambassador for The University of Texas, and runs a program that is both winning and clean, a program that all alumni and fans can and should be proud of. Mack cares about the young men on the team as people, as students, and as players, in that order, and he models the kind of leadership that will serve our players for the rest of their lives.
I look forward to watching this young team win the Alamo Bowl and continue to grow in seasons to come.
Ah, but here’s the inevitable irony: what happens if and when the job security of Powers himself becomes a hot topic again?