And once the ride stopped, Longhorns fans rejoiced.
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If Texas decides to part ways with Mack Brown in the next year, the university's financial hit would be relatively small compared with other recent buyouts in the college coaching world.
Brown, the third-longest tenured coach in FBS, has a buyout of only $2.75 million if he is let go before Dec. 31, 2014. He agreed to the buyout when his contract was extended through the 2020 season last January.
His job status has been the subject of much speculation during the Longhorns' roller-coaster 8-4 season, which will end with a trip to the Valero Alamo Bowl after missing out on the Big 12 title -- and a BCS bowl berth -- with a 30-10 loss at Baylor on Saturday.
Brown has not commented on whether he'll leave, and Texas has not commented on whether it would make a coaching change.
While $2.75 million might not seem like a small severance, it's paltry considering the fact Brown is owed about $40 million after this season. That means the payoff would represent less than 7 percent of the total value of his contract.
Under the terms of the buyout, Brown would receive four payments of $687,500 if he was fired by Texas in 2013 or 2014, with payments reduced until 2020, when the school would have to pay him nothing if it let him go.
Compared to other coaches who have been let go recently, it's a small price to pay -- especially for a coach who has led his team to a national championship.
- As a kid you watch these and that's where you want to be." Sounds like Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty can't wait to get to the Fiesta Bowl. John Werner of the Waco Tribune has the story.
- Baylor seems ready for the spotlight, writes Jimmy Burch of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
- Why did Mike Gundy rank Oklahoma State ahead of Oklahoma, just hours after the Sooners defeated his Cowboys 33-24 in Stillwater? The Oklahoman's Gina Mizell has Gundy's explanation. And OSU will have to shake off the disappointing Bedlam result and move forward. The Cowboys are set to face a familiar foe in the Cotton Bowl, The Oklahoman's John Helsley reports.
- Oklahoma overcame a lot to earn a Sugar Bowl berth, writes Jason Kersey of The Oklahoman.
- OU and OSU have an opportunity against SEC teams in their bowl games, writes John Klein of the Tulsa World.
- Texas will face Oregon in the Alamo Bowl. What does Mack Brown think? "These guys are like Baylor." Sounds like the Longhorns have their hands full, writes Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News.
- Texas Tech is excited to get a invitation to the Holiday Bowl in San Diego, writes Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
- Kansas State ended up in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl after a crazy weekend of chaos, writes Ken Corbitt of the Topeka Capital-Journal.
- This Iowa State recruit plans to compete for the Cyclones' starting quarterback spot right away, writes Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register.
- Jayhawks coach Charlie Weis confirmed that he is turning the reins of the Kansas offense over to John Reagan, reports Matt Tait of the Lawrence Journal-World.
AUSTIN, Texas -- The great unknown of Texas’ future remains unsolved two days after Texas’ loss to Baylor. But the imminent future was at least settled Sunday: Texas is returning to the Valero Alamo Bowl, this time to take on No. 10 Oregon.
And that proposition looks about as scary as anything Mack Brown and his loyalists might see in the next few weeks.
We don’t know what’s next for Brown. He traveled to New York on Sunday with UT president Bill Powers and athletic director Steve Patterson for the College Football Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. He’s supposed to hit the road this week for in-home visits with recruits.
The response from fans and pundits on Sunday night was relatively consistent: Texas (8-4) is going to get smoked by Oregon (10-2). It won’t be pretty.
Oddsmakers have made the Ducks a two-touchdown favorite, which is familiar territory for the Longhorns by now. This team liked playing the underdog role in 2013, so perhaps there’s no better way to end the year than with Texas’ most difficult matchup yet.
Oregon has a two-time All-Pac-12 quarterback in Marcus Mariota. He ranked No. 2 in the nation in QBR this season behind Florida State's Jameis Winston. If not for an MCL sprain that limited his game late in the season, Mariota would likely be New York-bound as well this week. The way this Heisman field fell apart, he still might.
The Ducks' famously fast tempo won’t be what causes this Texas defense trouble. The Longhorns have seen faster this season, and Oregon’s plays-per-game-average of 75 is down from a year ago.
The problem will be the option. Among spread offenses, nobody does that better in college football than the Ducks. It’s a big reason they’re 56-9 since 2009, the year former coach Chip Kelly took over.
Mariota rushed for 695 yards excluding sacks this season, his second as the starter. He says the knee injury that prevented him from running effectively should be 100 percent healed by the Dec. 30 bowl game.
And he’s surrounded by options: Three running backs surpassed 500 yards this season, led by second-year back Byron Marshall’s 995 yards. He has an ankle injury, but also plenty of time to recover.
And don’t forget De’Anthony Thomas, as explosive a player as there is in college football. He’s healthy again after missing four games with an ankle injury. Miss him once in space and he’ll hit the home run. And when you sell out to stop the run, Josh Huff (1,036 receiving yards, 11 TDs) can sneak behind the defense and make you pay.
“These guys are like Baylor," Brown said. "They can score fast and they do a tremendous job."
Read option, speed option, triple option, veer, packaged plays – the Ducks do it all. No other bowl team has more 20-yard runs this season than Oregon.
And few bowl teams struggled more to stop the option and the quarterback run than Texas. For all the progress Greg Robinson and the defensive staff made in the past 10 games, this remains the team's Achilles’ heel.
The Longhorns gave up the ninth-most rushing yards to quarterbacks in the bowl subdivision. As Brown joked midway through the season: If Texas’ opponents don’t run the option, they’ll put it in the playbook.
It was just too easy, even against a defense with a pair of All-Big 12-caliber ends. Injuries have rendered this unit thin at linebacker and defensive tackle. Robinson, his coaches and his defenders will need these 15 bowl practices to find answers.
Oregon’s defense is far from flawless, but it did hold foes to 19 points per game in its wins. It’s a top-three scoring defense in the Pac-12 and No. 4 in total defense. At the moment, though, the attention of Texas’ offense will be on fixing itself.
Case McCoy is coming off the worst start of his career. The Longhorns gained 59 yards in the second half Saturday at Baylor. Their only touchdown drive began at Baylor’s 11-yard line, and they still needed seven plays to score.
They’ll need every practice and film session afforded to them this month. Stanford beat Oregon with pure power. Arizona blew out the Ducks with an elite running back. What’s it going to take for Texas to pull this one off?
The Longhorns have their own problems to solve first, and plenty of preparation ahead. If you think the next three weeks will be rough and messy off the field, it can get a lot worse if Texas doesn’t stay focused on its toughest test yet.
Unidentified players reportedly organized the snowball fight and more than 100 students participated.
According to a video that went viral Monday, the group stopped several cars and pelted them with snowballs and dumped containers of snow on windshields. In one case, a driver who got out of his car -- identified by KATU-TV as former professor Sherwin Simmons -- was hit repeatedly and had a large container of snow thrown on him through the driver's side door.
The athletic department disciplined other players internally and the university could add additional punishments, according to the Emerald.
"On Saturday, I was made aware of an incident that occurred Friday afternoon during the snow day involving multiple Oregon students, including members of the football team," Ducks coach Mark Helfrich said in a statement. "The behavior exhibited in the video is completely unacceptable and dangerous. We take this matter very seriously and disciplinary actions have begun."
Simmons told KATU that he would not press charges. The university said it was investigating.
"They started out having good fun, it kind of went to a mob mentality, and in the end I don't believe -- I don't know everybody this happened to -- but I don't believe anyone got hurt," university administrator Krysten Mayfair told The Oregonian. "Yes, they broke student conduct code, and if the UO has a procedure for that, then that's what should happen."
Team of the week: Baylor was unranked to begin the season and picked to finish fifth in the Big 12. Instead, with a convincing 30-10 victory over Texas, the Bears won 11 games for the first time in school history to capture the program’s first outright conference title in 33 years. Baylor will cap its magical season against Central Florida in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
Disappointment of the week: Oklahoma State had a chance at a second Big 12 title and BCS bowl berth in three years. And all the Cowboys had to do was beat Oklahoma in Stillwater as 10-point favorites. Instead, despite shuffling through three quarterbacks and not scoring an offensive touchdown until 19 seconds left in the game, the Sooners knocked off their instate rival yet again. The Cowboys have lost 10 of 11 to Oklahoma, but given the circumstance and the ending, this one hurt worst of all.
Big (defensive) man on campus: Cornerback K.J. Morton returned from an abdominal strain to deliver the exclamation point to Baylor’s season. Morton picked off Texas quarterback Case McCoy twice, returning the second 57 yards in the fourth quarter for an apparent touchdown. The score was nullified on his celebration penalty. But by then, the party had already begun in Waco.
Special teams players of the week: The field goal tandem of Grant Bothun and Michael Hunnicutt converted Bob Stoops’ first successful fake field goal attempt in 11 years. After their drive stalled at the Oklahoma State 8-yard line, the Sooners lined up for a field goal. Instead, Bothun, the holder, took off running with the ball left and threw the ball to Hunnicutt, the kicker. Hunnicutt backed into the end zone before getting belted by two Cowboys, tying the score 17-17.
Play of the week: Cornerback Justin Gilbert appeared to have ended Bedlam with an Oklahoma State victory, as he came down with an apparent interception on a jump ball to Lacoltan Bester. But instead of landing on the turf, Gilbert landed on Bester, who tapped the ball out of Gilbert’s hands at the last moment. Officials ruled it an incompletion, and Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy inexplicably didn’t challenge the call. Five plays later, Bell hit Saunders for the game-winning score.
Stat of the week: As Oklahoma State’s head coach, Gundy’s record against Oklahoma is 1-8. Gundy’s record against the rest of the Big 12: 44-22
Quote of the week: “A defining moment for our program and one I think we'll be able to repeat many times." -- Baylor coach Art Briles, after the school’s first Big 12 championship
Oregon Ducks (10-2) vs. Texas Longhorns (8-4)
Dec. 30, 6:45 p.m. ET, San Antonio (ESPN)
OREGON DUCKS BREAKDOWN
During an 8-0 start, Oregon fans had only one thought in coach Mark Helfrich's first season: We want Bama. During a 2-2 finish, they started missing Chip Kelly.
Not only were the Ducks again in the thick of the national title hunt, but QB Marcus Mariota was also the nation's leading Heisman Trophy candidate.
But in that win over the Bruins, Mariota sprained his knee. While the injury didn't force him to miss a game, it severely limited his ability to run either on designed plays or scrambles. That put a major part of the Ducks’ offense on ice.
Stanford dominated the Ducks on both sides of the ball in a 26-20 win on Nov. 7, the Pac-12's marquee date of the year. Mariota struggled mightily, but the real issue was the line of scrimmage. The Cardinal owned it.
The low point, however, was a 42-16 defeat at Arizona that proved the death knell of the Ducks' BCS bowl hopes. It was Oregon's first loss to an unranked team since 2009. The 26-point margin of defeat was their biggest since losing 44-10 to USC in 2008.
The Ducks bounced back with a victory in the Civil War, but that 36-35 nail-biter at home over a reeling Beavers team was hardly suggestive of the team that dominated foes through the first eight games. It will be interesting to see how the Ducks respond in the postseason. It should help that Mariota should be close to full health. -- Ted Miller
TEXAS LONGHORNS BREAKDOWN
The Longhorns had everything on the line against Baylor, including a Big 12 title and a trip to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. They couldn’t get the job done. The bowl matchup that the 30-10 loss leads to is immaterial to Texas fans now. All they want to know is whether the Mack Brown era is over.
Despite losing five starters to season-ending injuries, the Longhorns turned around a rough start with a 7-2 record in Big 12 play. They made that run with a potent power run game, now led by Malcolm Brown (774 yards, nine touchdowns). Whether or not Mack Brown is done, this is the final game for nine senior starters and an opportunity for Case McCoy to end his up-and-down career on a high note.
Texas’ defense underwent a revival in 10 games under Greg Robinson and did hold Baylor’s top-ranked scoring offense to three points in the first half. Jackson Jeffcoat finished with a Big 12-leading 12 sacks in his senior season and anchors a unit that has plenty of experience defending high-tempo spread offenses. -- Max Olson
The No. 19 Badgers (9-3) are playing in a non-BCS bowl for the first time in three seasons following three consecutive appearances in the Rose Bowl. Wisconsin lost those games, though, and will be looking for its first bowl win under coach Gary Andersen.
South Carolina (10-2) won its final five games of the season, including a double-overtime victory against then-unbeaten Missouri.
The Gamecocks are making their second Capital One Bowl appearance in three seasons, having beaten Nebraska in 2012.
South Carolina is also the only team to beat Fiesta Bowl-bound UCF, rallying in the final three quarters to claim a three-point victory.
It is the first meeting between the schools.
AT&T Cotton Bowl: Missouri vs. Oklahoma State
SEC runner-up Missouri is headed to the Cotton Bowl, where the No. 8 Tigers will play No. 13 Oklahoma State on Jan. 3.
Missouri (11-2) is coming off a 59-42 loss to Auburn in the SEC championship game in only its second season in that league.
Oklahoma State (10-2) was on track for a Big 12 title and a spot in the Bowl Championship Series before a 33-24 loss to Oklahoma on Saturday.
SEC teams have won the last five Cotton Bowls, and nine of the last 10, over Big 12 teams. The lone exception was the 2008 game when Missouri, then in the Big 12, beat Arkansas 38-7.
Here are our Week 15 bowl projections for the Big 12:
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 1): Baylor vs. BCS at-large
Allstate Sugar Bowl (Jan. 2): Oklahoma vs. SEC champion (or replacement)
AT&T Cotton Bowl (Jan. 3): Oklahoma State vs. SEC No. 3/4
Valero Alamo Bowl (Dec. 30): Texas vs. Pac-12 No. 2
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (Dec. 28): Kansas State vs. Big Ten No. 4/5
National University Holiday Bowl (Dec. 30): Texas Tech vs. Pac-12 No. 3
Texas Bowl (Dec. 27): None available vs. Big Ten No. 6
New Era Pinstripe Bowl (Dec. 28): None available vs. American No. 4
Heart of Dallas Bowl (Jan. 1): None available vs. Big Ten No. 7
1. Baylor is the one and only champ: The last time Baylor won an outright conference championship, Mike Singletary was its middle linebacker. Until Saturday. With a little help from their friends from Norman, the Bears captured their first Big 12 title, and won’t have to share it with anybody. Baylor faces some adversity with the loss at Oklahoma State, but Art Briles’ bunch showed some gumption, bouncing back for a hard-fought win at TCU before closing out Floyd Casey Stadium in style.
3. The Mack Brown speculation is about to ramp up: It has been a storyline all season. Now it’s about to reach a fevered pitch. It would have been interesting to see what Texas would have done had the Longhorns upset Baylor, captured the outright Big 12 title and gone to the Fiesta Bowl. Instead, Texas finished with less than nine regular-season wins for the fourth straight season, which requires a thorough internal review from the burnt orange brass. Will Brown be forced to resign before the bowl game? Let the speculation commence.
4. Oklahoma owns Bedlam: The Cowboys have made great strides with their program under Mike Gundy. But one fact remains: They cannot beat the Sooners in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma really had no business winning this one. Oklahoma State was the heavy favorite. At home. With the superior quarterback. And a senior-laded defense. The Sooners didn’t even score an offensive touchdown through the first 59 minutes, 41 seconds of the game. But Oklahoma's defense hung tough, and the Sooners reeled off a pair of remarkable special teams plays to keep the score close. Then, like so many times before in this game, Oklahoma broke Oklahoma State’s back in the final two minutes. Even with all their recent success, the Cowboys have now lost 10 of 11 in Bedlam. And the Sooners still own their instate rivals.
5. Bob Stoops can still win big games: People often needle Stoops’ “Big-Game Bob” moniker. But Saturday, Stoops proved again he can still win the big games. Even the ones nobody expects him to win. Despite rotating three different quarterbacks and playing without the starting left side of his offensive line, Stoops manufactured a win in Stillwater with bold special teams calls and a defense that gave up yards but never broke. The Cowboys had the advantage over the Sooners in many different ways -- quarterback, experience, defense and home field -- but Stoops outcoached his Oklahoma State counterpart. And somehow, someway, added another big-game win to his resume.
1. Not ready for a championships: Texas really did do everything it wanted to in the first half, at least when it comes to stopping Baylor, and yet this was a 3-3 score at halftime. The game was there for the taking, and the Longhorns missed their shot. They couldn't sustain drives, Case McCoy couldn't pass (12-34, 54 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs), and they paid for it once the Baylor offense got going. Their only touchdown drive began at Baylor's 11-yard line, and they still needed seven plays and a miraculous throw from McCoy to get the score. You can't go 2-for-17 on third downs and expect to beat anybody, especially a top-10 team on the road.
2. Defining success: Some Texas players admitted on Monday that they wouldn't consider the 2013 season a success until Texas won at least a share of the Big 12 title. They got their chance and couldn't get the job done, but most players who met with reporters after the loss -- all of them juniors and seniors -- believed this was still a successful season regardless. Or at least that's what they said, citing adversity and injuries and rallying from a 1-2 start. Still, it's a tough ending for a senior class that, for the first time in Mack Brown's tenure, never won a division or conference title in their four years on campus.
3. Buckle up: All four of Texas' losses this season have come by 20-plus points. They weren't close. While this blowout doesn't officially doom Brown's hopes of returning for 2014, it's not going to help. These next few weeks in Austin could get messy depending on what direction this program is going when it moves forward. UT president Bill Powers and new AD Steve Patterson -- who's only been on the job for two weeks -- face an uncomfortable decision, but it's one they'll have to make soon. The Texas standard is not eight wins, but for the second season in a row that's the result in the regular season.
RB Malcolm Brown: He’s rushed for more yards before -- against Oklahoma State in 2011 -- but against Baylor, especially in the first half, might’ve been the best Brown has run in his whole career. The junior rushed for 131 yards on 25 carries and also caught Case McCoy’s lone touchdown pass in the loss. He was an absolute workhorse in the first two quarters, racking up 118 yards and repeatedly finding cutbacks up the middle for big gains. One of the unsung heroes of this offense, Brown finishes the regular season with 774 yards and nine touchdowns.
LB Peter Jinkens: Where’d this performance come from? Texas was essentially down to two linebackers this week and that meant lots of snaps for Jinkens, the athletic sophomore whose season has been a bit disappointing. But on this night, he was all over the place. Jinkens finished with 12 tackles and was spotted throwing guys around a few times. He’s coming on strong late, just as he did in 2012.
DE Jackson Jeffcoat: The stat book says Jeffcoat had a solid night on Saturday, with 11 tackles and two sacks. As a senior, though, all he cared about was the win. Jeffcoat did surpass Kansas State’s Ryan Mueller to finish with a Big 12-leading 12 sacks in 2013. He was the only Texas player to sack Bryce Petty, though, and Texas logged just three QB pressures. Jeffcoat was good; he just needed more help.