DALLAS — Mack Brown was in his element Tuesday.
On his game, too.
No one is better suited for Big 12 Media Days than the master of the microphone, the prince of the presser, the sensei of the sound bite, and Tuesday, he had a message that he hammered home like never before.
“I think we're about to make another run,” the Texas coach said, looking a bit like he was sharing a juicy secret.
You almost expected a little wink.
“Whether it's this year or next year, we're about to make another run,” he continued. “We're getting our depth. We're getting our ability back up. Our recruiting's going well. I'm really excited about where we're headed.”
For Brown's sake, the Longhorns had best fulfill his prophecy.
This is a make-or-break year for Mack. After three less-than-stellar seasons, his future as the Texas coach depends on what happens these next few months. Oh, he might not lose his job if the Longhorns don't win a conference title or something, but with all of the changes that he's made in an attempt to right the listing U.S.S. Bevo, serious improvement is a must.
The overhaul began after the catastrophe of 2010. Only a season removed from playing for a national title — and losing by a hair despite a first-quarter, game-ending injury to Colt McCoy — the Longhorns won just five games.
In the year that followed, Brown seemed to reboot the program. New coordinators. New assistants. New philosophies. New players.
Lots of new players.
Texas played a ton of freshmen and sophomores these past two seasons, an acknowledgment that the recruiting classes before them just weren't very good. While those youngsters gained valuable experience, the results weren't great.
There were more wins than losses. There were bowl games. But there were also missed tackles and talent deficits on defense, quarterback problems and identity crises on offense.
The identity crises continue, by the way. Less than a year after saying Texas was going to be a power running team, Brown decreed at the start of spring football that the Longhorns were going to go up-tempo, no-huddle like just about everyone else in the Big 12. The move comes despite David Ash still being David Ash and the Longhorns having almost no big-time playmakers at receiver.
All of it has brought out the burnt-orange critics.
“We've created this monster,” Brown said. “We've created these expectations ourselves, and they're a good thing.”
Brown did nothing to shy away from those expectations Tuesday.
All those young guys who played the past two seasons are juniors and seniors now, so with 19 starters returning, Brown feels as confident about his program has he's felt in several years.
“We've worked really, really hard these last two years,” he said, “to get back to where we can compete again.”
But will they?
Brown's future depends on it.
Because if the Longhorns have another eight- or nine-win season and fall out of the national-title hunt with another loss to Oklahoma, it will be a condemnation of Brown. The changes won't have worked. The seeds won't have rooted.
Earlier this summer, athletic director DeLoss Dodds and school president Bill Powers gave public votes of confidence to their football coach. But Dodds also said this to The Dallas Morning News: “We'll make changes if we need to make changes.”
This is a make-or-break year for Brown.
“I don't think you have a make-or-break year,” he contended. “What I'm seeing is that we're getting ready to make a run. We're getting much better. We're getting our depth back. We're getting ... ”
Yeah, Mack, we heard the message loud and clear Tuesday. You won the press conference. You won big.
Now, what about your team?
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.