Neither Mack Brown nor Charlie Weis is coaching in 2015. Mack Brown is paid to gave his insights on the game for ESPN, Charlie Weis is paid to…well, to not work.
And yet, here are both one week into the 2015 season, talking about their coaching days.
In their defense, neither commandeered media attention for their own gain. But what they said certainly put others in a bad light.
First, let’s examine Mack Brown. All criticisms of Brown have to be couched in the acknowledgement that he was wildly successful for more than a decade and won a national championship by beating one of college football’s greatest teams ever.
Now that that’s out of the way, just everything after the 2010 BCS Championship Game was a misfire. Texas has been a steady, downward trajectory long before a change in head coaches, yet Brown absolved himself of responsibility.
— Mike Finger (@mikefinger) September 9, 2015
Brown is throwing chum in the water as the sharks circle Charlie Strong. Strong took over a mess — a mess Brown created — and the thanks he gets is Brown washing his own hands of it.
Wescott Eberts of Burnt Orange Nation tees off on Brown, citing an NFL.com report that Texas’ current roster is lacking pro prospects, and the even more damning dearth of offensive linemen signed in 2013.
Brown cites his first-year success after taking over for John Mackovic. And, indeed, Mackovic doesn’t deserve “all the credit” for Texas’ success in 1998 — but at least Mackovic signed Ricky Williams.
The idea that a college coach would put together a recruiting class with no offensive linemen is such utter lunacy it strains credulity.
— DD (@BarkingCarnival) September 10, 2015
The Longhorn offense is abysmal, and it was abysmal before Charlie Strong and his staff arrived. You can trace back the struggles on that side of the ball to just after the 2009 season, when Garrett Gilbert was tabbed as the successor to Colt McCoy ahead of G.J. Kinne.
Gilbert’s struggles started a chapter in Texas football that continues into 2015. Gilbert, David Ash, Case McCoy, Tyrone Swoopes; for various reasons, no quarterback has succeeded in burnt orange. Not one. And that predates Charlie Strong.
Meanwhile, Kinne went on to flourish at Tulsa, where he set records. In-state quarterback prospects Mack Brown missed on, Johnny Manziel and Robert Griffin III, won the Heisman Trophy.
Brown’s defense on Manziel was to shoot down the meme that he offered Manziel as a safety by pointing out he didn’t offer him at all.
Uh, Mack? That’s probably worse given Manziel was drawing interest from rising national power Oregon, which was flourishing by pilfering Texas prospects. He was also on the radar of — OH YEAH! — Texas’ chief rival.
The end of Brown’s tenure was also marred by assistants seemingly not fitting. But much like Kinne, they thrived elsewhere. The Texas offense sputtered under Bryan Harsin in 2011 and 2012, yet he’s had some of the nation’s most explosive teams everywhere else he’s been.
Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz was fired a month into the 2013 season after an embarrassing loss to BYU.
Diaz went to Louisiana Tech the next season and oversaw the nation’s leading defense in takeaways.
His one season at Louisiana Tech made Diaz a hot enough commodity to land in the SEC West, at Mississippi State.
Speaking of embarrassing, Charlie Weis’ record his final 5.5 seasons as a head coach was 21-45. It improves if you take away the 2.5 seasons he coached Kansas — which, like Texas, was left a smoldering wreck — but not enough to get Weis above the .500 mark.
He was 16-21 his last three seasons at Notre Dame and ended his tenure on a four-game losing streak.
Weis offered an explanation for his lack of success in his final three seasons in South Bend to the Little Rock Touchdown Club Tuesday.
Weis said his struggles at Notre Dame could be traced to the composition of his coaching staff. Three of his assistants — Michael Haywood (Miami, Ohio), Rob Ianello (Akron) and Brian Polian (Nevada) — eventually left to run their own programs.
“I hired too many people that wanted to use the school as a steppingstone for a head coaching job,” Weis said.
In Weis’ defense, Haywood, Ianello and Polian are mentioned as the writers’ examples. Weis isn’t quoted offering up names himself.
Weis is also renowned for passing along blame. He publicly criticized specific players at Notre Dame. He called his Kansas Jayhawks roster a “pile of crap” in 2013.
So, for Weis to pin his lack of success on ambitious assistants isn’t far-fetched.
Programs can certainly struggle when assistants leave for more prominent opportunities. Mike Stoops’ tenure at Arizona was doomed shortly after losing his brother and defensive coordinator, Mark, to Florida State, and offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes to Louisiana Tech.
It’s the head coach’s responsibility to replace coordinators when others leave — Jimbo Fisher won a national championship immediately after Mark Stoops left for the head coaching job at Kentucky — but losing assistants can indeed sink a program.
However, of the assistants listed above, only Haywood left before Weis’ firing. Haywood accepted the head coaching position at Miami (OH) after the 2008 season, but Polian went to Stanford in 2010 and Ianello to Akron the same season.
Notre Dame wasn’t a stepping stone for either. The rock was sinking and they jumped to shore elsewhere.
Mack Brown has a nice job at ESPN. Weis has such an enviable position, Dire Straits wrote a hit song about it. Both would probably prefer to still be coaching, but offering excuses for why they aren’t or sabotaging those who are still in the profession only makes them look bad.