Oregon State presents opportunity for Texas

Mack Brown, one year later, is walking to the beat of the same drum.

"I really believe we are headed in the right direction."

"The future looks very bright."

"I’m fortunate to be at a place where the standards are very high and we are going to fight to get back to those standards."

It’s the rinse-and-repeat cycle that has become the Texas football coach’s life these past few years. This time Brown uttered the catch phrases of a building/in-transition/stagnant/once-proud program at the introductory press conference from the Valero Alamo Bowl on Thursday morning.

Win or lose, the above statements will be the mantra of an offseason in which no answer could serve as the right one because the season to prove such statements ended at Kansas State. The only way for Texas to interrupt or cease the battered use of these well-worn phrases is to win.

Oregon State presents that chance. The Beavers are No. 13 in the BCS and even with a loss would probably not slip out of the top 25.

That might be why Brown said Texas is "lucky" to have the opportunity to play a higher ranked team in the bowl. A win hands Texas at least a modicum of legitimacy that the incredibly long-term plan might be working. Or, at the very least, a brief reprieve from the skepticism that it is not.

But because of Texas’ sporadic play and staggeringly underwhelming performances against ranked teams from its own conference, just one win against a Pac-12 opponent that has a bowl history of 15 games and last won its conference in 1964 probably will not quell the debate.

That’s because Texas, in everything from its handling to assistant coaches -- Brown publicly stated he had inserted himself into the defensive coaches meeting rooms -- to the picking of the quarterback (No one has not been selected yet. C’mon, it’s only been two years.), has set itself up to be continually questioned.

In fact, it won’t be all that surprising if those questions do persist past the bowl game even if Texas manages a win. That’s almost always the case in a situation when it is evident a firm plan is either not in place or the one in place is not working correctly.

It’s not so much that Texas fans want to question authority. Allegiance and blind faith are usually part of the inherent fiber of college football fans. It’s more that fans want to know if Brown is still a capable authority with original thoughts and the acumen necessary to beat someone like, say, Bob Stoops.

While Brown is hamstrung in his answers and almost forced to answer as he did with the above quotes -- what else is he going to say? -- such declarative statements have become frayed and turned upon Brown as objects of ridicule used to point out his failures. And until Texas puts some proof on the field that will continue to be the case.