Brown's staying, but what's next?

AUSTIN, Texas -- Whether Mack Brown was campaigning for it or not, he will get four more years.

University of Texas regents are scheduled Thursday to consider a contract extension that will keep Brown at Texas until 2020. Not that a vote is really needed. A few rumors that Brown might retire, and Texas' athletic director DeLoss Dodds got to work to make sure it won't happen. The sage septuagenarian decided he wanted to keep his best asset for a bit longer, or at least until Dodds himself rides off into the burnt-orange sunset. Dodds is 74, after all.

It is the wise and prudent move. Brown and his program have allowed Texas, and Dodds, to build the richest and most powerful athletic department in the country. Sure, there have been a few blips -- 5-7 and 8-5 immediately come to mind. Those two seasons, the worst of Brown's career, had some fans questioning whether the coach had become complacent or incompetent.

Brown will even own up to the complacency charge. He and his staff lived on the name brand they had built and neglected to develop talent, innovate and, most of all, win.

As for the incompetence, well, from the suites to the cheap seats just about everyone believes they are better than the guy on the sideline.

In this case, they're not.

Neither were Fred Akers, David McWilliams and John Mackovic. By the end of what would be a 23-season run for Brown, he will also likely pass Darrell Royal, if not in the eyes of longtime followers, at least in accomplishments.

True, in his 20 years Royal never had a losing season. After 2010, Brown can no longer lay claim to such an achievement.

Undoubtedly, Brown will have more overall wins (Royal had 167, at this point Brown has 141 with what could be nine seasons to go in his new deal). Brown also could earn another national title, which would inch closer to Royal's three. In this day and age -- with programs no longer able to stockpile recruits, the arms race for bigger and better facilities, and the ever-present NCAA -- two is the new three.

What Texas fans need to be concerned about (those who at least can remember as far back as the mid- to late 1990s) is not how long the university keeps Brown, but how long it can keep Brown. The coach being poised to sign for nine more years doesn't mean he will stay for nine more years. Another title -- it is distinctly possible in the not-too-distant future -- and he could be gone. Another bad year, and he might throw up his hands and take off.

What then?

That's where the issue of signing Brown to nine more years could hurt Texas. The length of the contract is such that it is untenable to construct a clear succession plan until a much later date. Everyone in business knows you have to have a solid exit strategy.

Alabama didn't when Bear Bryant left. It was 13 years between Bryant's last year and Gene Stallings' 1992 title team. Nebraska didn't have one when Tom Osborne left. Bill Callahan? Really? And only time will tell with Penn State.

Clearly, defensive coordinator Manny Diaz is going to be a head coach soon. That might happen for co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin, as well. But with Brown signed on for nine seasons, neither is going to fall for the "head-coach-in-waiting" title.

Nine years is an eternity in college football. No aspiring head coach worth his salt would wait more than a season or maybe two to take over the top spot. Will Muschamp learned that lesson.

So, it is safe to assume, Texas will miss out on Diaz like it did Muschamp. Sure, the Longhorns might be able to lure either of them back.

Then again, Texas might have to wait 25 years -- the span between Royal and Brown -- until it can find an equal.

Carter Strickland covers University of Texas football and recruiting for HornsNation

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