Mack Brown: Nothing has changed

Brown repeatedly said he wanted the focus of the day and the bowl to be on the players and not on him. His demeanor was no different than usual, even cracking jokes with first-year Ducks coach Mark Helfrich during their 25-minute joint news conference at The Club at Sonterra golf course in San Antonio.

After Brown left the podium, he greeted longtime Texas booster Red McCombs -- one of his closest friends and allies. And after Brown was ushered away by bowl reps, the San Antonio billionaire expressed his disappointment over the possibility that Brown's tenure might soon end.

"I think that Mack has earned the right to choose whatever he wants to do, whether he wants to stay or he wants to go," said McCombs, a former owner of the San Antonio Spurs. "If you can find a reason to get rid of a guy like that, you'd really have to reach."

McCombs, who has a statue at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, said he hasn't met Nick Saban but that he admires the Alabama coach. If Brown steps aside and Texas pursues Saban, McCombs believes it can get him and that cost won't be an issue.

"I don't think there's any question about getting him," McCombs said. "When Mack came there, budgets were an issue. They're not an issue now. Hell, all the money that's not in the Vatican is up at UT."

Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron, however, told ESPN on Thursday that Saban "told me he's not leaving."

After the news conference, Brown boarded a flight to Beaumont, Texas, to visit five-star cornerback recruit Tony Brown.

After opening the season 1-2 with blowout losses to BYU and Mississippi, Texas rallied to start 6-0 in Big 12 play before losing two of its final three games, including a 30-10 decision to Baylor on Saturday in what had become a de facto conference title game.

While nothing officially has been announced regarding Brown's future with Texas, the school already has a short list of candidates to replace him. It includes San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, sources told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen.

No talks have occurred between Harbaugh and the school, sources told Mortensen, and no proposals have been exchanged. Harbaugh on Wednesday declined comment on reports he was on Texas' list.

Orangebloods.com first reported Tuesday that Brown will resign after 16 years as coach.

ESPN's Joe Schad and Brett McMurphy, ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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