brown.jpgSI.com’s Stewart Mandel put together lists of both the 10 Best and the Five Worst coaches in college football. If you’re too lazy to click on the link for the original the list of the tops goes:

1. Pete Carroll
2. Urban Meyer
3. Jim Tressel
4. Mack Brown
5. Bob Stoops
6. Frank Beamer
7. Jim Grobe
8. Rich Rodriguez
9. Mark Richt
10. Gary Patterson

Mandel qualifies his list by saying this is not the best coaches in college football, but the best coaches in college football right now. So emphasis goes to recent performance. Ergo, no Bowden and no Paterno.

It’s hard to argue with the top three, even if Meyer presumably gets a huge bump from winning the National Championship, which, if South Carolina had any kind of kicking game, they probably wouldn’t have even played for. That’s not to discount the accomplishment but more to remind how thin the margin between genius and disappointment can be.

The shocker here is Mack Brown at number four. Mandel’s argument for Brown is basically: He has 6 straight 10-win seasons.

First: Big deal. With 12 regular season games, a Big 12 championship game, and a bowl game, the Horns have a legit shot at playing 14 games. So a 10-win season isn’t really that meaningful when it’s also a 4-loss season.

Second: Big deal. Look, Brown is probably the second best recruiter in the country (and an equally good PR guy). If he can get an even dozen 5-star running backs to commit to play in the same backfield, then he can take the title from Carroll. Until then, he’ll be first runner-up in the Mr. February contest for a while.

But because he’s pretty much put a fence around the state, just stepping on the field Texas has vastly superior talent to everyone they play save one or two teams a year. If they didn’t win 10 games a year, it’d be more surprising.

As a game day coach, though, Brown is barely average on a good day. Every year he loses to someone he shouldn’t and he is routinely beaten by teams with roughly equal talent.

And the numbers prove it. Starting in 1999, the season before the 10-win streak began, these are all of Texas’ losses by year (rankings are in parenthesis)

1999
Texas (17) loss North Carolina State (U): 20-23
Texas (15) loss Kansas State (13): 17-35
Texas (7) loss Texas A&M (24): 16-20
Texas (12) loss Nebraska (3): 6-22
Texas (14) loss Arkansas (24): 6-27

2000
Texas (5) loss Stanford (U): 24-27
Texas (11) loss Oklahoma (10): 14-63
Texas (12) loss Oregon (8): 30-35

2001
Texas (5) loss Oklahoma (3): 3-14
Texas (3) loss Colorado (9): 37-39

2002
Texas (3) loss Oklahoma (2): 24-35
Texas (4) loss Texas Tech (U): 38-42

2003
Texas (6) loss Arkansas (U): 28-38
Texas (11) loss Oklahoma (1): 13-65
Texas (5) loss Washington St (15): 20-28

2004
Texas (5) loss Oklahoma (2): 0-12

2005
No losses

2006
Texas (2) loss Ohio State (1): 7-24
Texas (4) loss Kansas State (U): 42-45
Texas (11) loss Texas A&M (U): 7-12

In five of the 8 seasons, a ranked Texas lost to an un-ranked team. Additionally, of Texas’ 19 total losses, 10 were to teams that were ranked lower. That’s just over half. It doesn’t sound that bad, but let’s factor out Oklahoma because Mack Brown has been Stoops’ bitch for the better part of his tenure in Austin, and those OU teams were consistently ranked ahead of Texas (even if only by two-three spots). Without the Sooners in the mix, it means that 10 of Brown’s 14 losses have been to teams ranked lower than his.

Granted, that’s a little misleading as in the last 3 years Texas has been ranked well inside the top 10 and hovering around the top 5 so almost any loss is going to be to someone ranked lower, but 10 of 14 is still not very impressive.

Now look at Oklahoma by itself. In four of the eight years in consideration here, OU was ranked within 3 spots of Texas, meaning that they were roughly equal on paper. In those four games, Brown is 0-4 and the losses come by a combined 124-41, and that doesn’t include the slaughter of 2003 when the top-ranked Sooners waltzed across Texas 65-13.

That’s Brown’s performance against a roughly even team. It’s pretty crummy (and that’s putting it gently).

But let’s try to compensate for any karmic factors because, as we pointed out, for whatever reason Stoops has owned Brown. So look at Brown against all teams that are within +/- 10 spots in the rankings since 1999 the season. Those results by season are:

1999
Texas (15) loss Kansas State (13): 17-35
Texas (12) loss Nebraska (3): 6-22
Texas (14) loss Arkansas (24): 6-27

2000
Texas (11) loss Oklahoma (10): 14-63
Texas (12) beat Texas A&M (22): 43-17
Texas (12) loss Oregon (8): 30-35

2001
Texas (5) loss Oklahoma (3): 3-14
Texas (9) beat Colorado (14): 41-7
Texas (3) loss Colorado (9): 37-39

2002
Texas (3) loss Oklahoma (2): 24-35
Texas (8) beat Kansas State (17): 17-14

2003
Texas (13) beat Kansas State (16): 24-20
Texas (11) loss Oklahoma (1): 13-65
Texas (16) beat Nebraska (12): 31-7
Texas (11) beat Oklahoma State (21): 55-16
Texas (5) loss Washington St (15): 20-28

2004
Texas (5) loss Oklahoma (2): 0-12
Texas (6) beat Michigan (12): 38-37

2005
Texas (2) beat Ohio State (4): 25-22
Texas (2) beat Texas Tech (10): 52-17
Texas (2) beat USC (1): 41-38

2006
Texas (2) loss Ohio State (1): 7-24
Texas (7) beat Oklahoma (14): 28-10

In all games against teams of roughly equal talent since 1999 (and with a plus-minus of 10, that’s a fairly generous account of “equal”), Brown is a very unimpressive 12-12. And of the 12 wins, nine (9) of them were against lower ranked teams (average differential of + 6).

It’s also worth noting that 4 of the 12 wins were with Vince Young at the helm of the Texas offense. This isn’t a trivial observation. In all of Brown’s seasons in Austin in which VY wasn’t the QB, he has averaged 3 losses a season. In those seasons where Young was the QB, he averaged .5 (that’s point-five, as in a half). That’s a 600% difference.

There’s a reason why Brown was tagged as a guy that ‘couldn’t win the big one(s).’ The reason is that he couldn’t. That goes back to his days at North Carolina, and the numbers at Texas don’t really do much to dispel that.

Now, he did win the Rose Bowl (actually two) and the National Championship in 2005, but, again it’s impossible to discount the impact of Vince Young on that game, that team, and that whole season. Vince Young and 10 lepers could have beaten 11 Jesuses (provided those Jesuses were not wearing OU colors). Hell, Vince Young could have made Rich Kotite look like a good coach.

Really, if you have doubts that Young wasn’t maybe the greatest ever to put on a college uniform, just watch those two Rose Bowl games where he almost single-handedly beat Michigan and USC in back to back years.

But without Voung, Mack Brown is 8-12 against roughly equal teams with all but one of those wins coming against lesserly equal teams (i.e. lower ranked); additionally, he has only one regular season win over a top five opponent in nine seasons in Austin.

So how again is Brown the 4th best coach in the country?

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