Why Texas should keep Mack Brown

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Alabama coach Nick Saban isn't trading his houndstooth hat for cowboy boots.

And despite myriad Internet rumors, Saban's wife wasn't shopping for a new house in Austin, unless she was searching for a Texas vacation home.

On Friday night, Saban agreed to a new contract with the Crimson Tide, which he says will keep him coaching at Alabama until the end of his career. Saban already was the highest-paid coach in college football, earning $5.7 million per year, and his new deal is expected to pay him between $7 million and $7.5 million, according to the Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News. That's close to $1 million per SEC victory, according to my math, as long as Saban doesn't send his kicker on the field to try a 57-yard field goal at the end of the Iron Bowl again.

Saban, who has guided Alabama to three of the past four BCS national championships, isn't taking over Texas. So what are the Longhorns supposed to do?

How about keeping the coach who is already there?

Mack Brown met with university president Bill Powers and athletics director Steve Patterson on Friday, and no decision about the coach's future was specifically addressed after their meeting, although signs now point toward Brown returning for a 17th season at Texas in 2014.

"Hopefully, we'll be able to get together and work for many years to come," said Patterson, who replaced longtime UT athletics director DeLoss Dodds in November.

Brown has been heavily criticized after the Longhorns lost at least four games for the fourth consecutive season. Since losing to Alabama 37-21 in the 2010 BCS National Championship, UT has gone 30-20 overall, 19-17 in the Big 12. Brown knows more than anyone that his teams' recent results aren't good enough at a program like Texas.

But it might have been Saban or bust for the Longhorns. Unless UT could have lured Saban to Austin, it doesn't make any sense to run off a coach who guided it to its first national championship in 35 years in 2005. In 16 seasons with the Longhorns, Brown has a record of 158-47. He needs only nine victories to match the revered Darrell Royal for the most wins in UT history. In fact, Brown's winning percentage (.771) is on par with Royal's (.774), whose name is etched on the Longhorns' stadium.

And that's after Brown won eight games this season without a serviceable quarterback, the result of a series of recruiting missteps that falls at the head coach's feet. Texas, which seemingly has more resources and a more fertile recruiting ground than any other program in the country, has the same problems as Florida and USC, which have similar embarrassments of riches. They don't have a quarterback. And without a triggerman, the Longhorns don't have a chance in the pass-happy Big 12, but that can be addressed this offseason. 

But if Saban isn't available, who is Texas going to hire who is more qualified than Brown? Auburn's Gus Malzahn, Florida State's Jimbo Fisher, UCLA's Jim Mora and Baylor's Art Briles, the most attractive coaches in college football this season, recently agreed to contract extensions with their respective schools. Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy, Vanderbilt's James Franklin and Arizona State's Todd Graham also have been mentioned as possible replacements at Texas. Count the national championship rings on their fingers and compare them to the gaudy jewelry on Brown's ring finger.

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