Somewhere around the loss to Iowa State in 2010, or maybe it was the second loss in a row to Kansas State or the second in a row to Baylor in 2011 -- Joe Jamail, the attorney who usually asked the questions, was on the defensive again.
What of Mack Brown now? What of 5-7? What of 13-12 over two years? What has happened? Why hasn’t Brown been fired?
“Fire him?” Jamail, a donor of such largess that Texas’ field bears his name. “We ought to give him a raise. If he worked like I do he would get a third.”
That’s one third of $150 million. A year.
That is what the Texas brand has become during his Brown’s 14 years on the sideline. The Longhorns, never fledgling mind you, have become the wealthiest program in college sports. All the while entertaining a myriad of suitors before ultimately flexing their muscle and pulling a conference together, launching a $300 million network with ESPN and, don’t forget, wondering if they might ever get another quarterback.
Texas sold more merchandise than any other college program in the national championship year of 2005.
Texas also sold more merchandise than any other college program in 2010. That year the Longhorns went 5-7, their first losing record since 1997, or the year before Brown arrived.
Merchandise sales were $10.6 million in 2011. That number is more than the football budget of Texas’ first two opponents in 2012, Wyoming ($5.2 million) and New Mexico ($6.6 million). But it is lint in the pocket of a university whose football program alone generated $95.7 million in revenue in the last fiscal year.
So while maybe those around the Lone Star State do not wear their hearts on their sleeves as they do in the SEC’s Deep South, the Texas brand is still printed across many chests from Beaumont to El Paso and beyond.
To that end, Texas continues to brand more athletes than any other institution within the state. As former Baylor coach Grant Teaff said in an interview with HornsNation last year, “Texas has always been Texas. It has always been the thing. It represents the state. Unless your parents went to another school like Texas Tech or Baylor, if you were born in Texas, you were going to Texas.”
The recruiting rankings serve to validate his words. Texas has finished in the top five of ESPN’s rankings the last four years and currently sit at No. 7 for a 2013 class that will not be signed for another six months.
It’s the brand that has drawn them. From freshman Daje Johnson – “I have wanted to go to Texas since eighth grade …” -- to freshman Adrian Colbert – “Why wouldn't you want to play football at the University of Texas? It's the greatest school in the country” -- players have been lured by the brand and program that is Texas.
Now, after the two worst years since Brown’s arrival, those players, the coach and the program believe the results on the field can match the marketing and the brand name that thrives because of it.
“All we want to do is rise to the occasion,” junior offensive lineman Mason Walters said. “We are not lowering the standard at the University of Texas, we’re going to go meet it.”