We missed Mack Brown this week at Big 12 Media Days.
Maybe not as much as we missed Jonathan Kimble, the original Big 12 Mountaineer mascot who has bequeathed the musket to a successor, but still, Mack we missed.
Missed his downhome charm and his personable personality and the way he would talk about his Texas Longhorns in such an easy manner, even if it wasn’t necessarily true. Charlie Strong was a little on the stiff side. Not that that matters. Winning the press conference doesn’t mean much come autumn, and UT was ready for a gridiron change.
But that doesn’t mean Mack was. In fact, some think Brown could want to coach again. If so, I’ve got just the job for him.
The Razorbacks have a coach, of course, and it’s a coach who I think will end up doing well in the Ozarks. Bret Bielema was a big winner at Wisconsin and could do the same with the Hogs. But it’s a dicey fit. A Midwesterner trying to forge his way in the SEC.
That recipe can work. Les Miles. Urban Meyer. But when it goes poorly, it goes poorly fast. The South is clannish. Get in good or get out quick.
Arkansas went 3-9 in its first season under Bielema. If Year 2 doesn’t go any better, who knows what Bielema’s future holds? And wouldn’t Mack fit well in the hills? He speaks their language; he’s a folksy Tennesseean who has coached and coached well all over Arkansas’ neighbors. Texas, North Carolina, Tulane, Oklahoma, Appalachian State, Iowa State.
Maybe a new challenge is what Mack needed. A chance to show orangebloods they were wrong to let him go after 16 years. Mack could recruit Texas, we know that, and we also know that’s what Arkansas needs.
Mack’s recruiting eye dipped in recent years. The Longhorns signed the guys they wanted; they just didn’t want the right guys. So staff would be huge. Mack would need two fabulous coordinators (he had some famous whiffs in that regard at Austin) and a stable of hungry recruiters. Mack is 62 but doesn’t act it. He and Arkansas seem a match made in Hog Heaven.
Sort of like Barry Switzer and Arkansas. I hatched that plan in 1990, that the Hogs should hire Switzer, who was six months removed from leaving OU. It was a good idea, it just never came to fruition. Arkansas hired Jack Crowe, fired him two years later and hired Danny Ford. Switzer proved his football days weren’t over by coming back to coach the Cowboys of Dallas.
But it’s all about fit. Switzer and Mack fit at Arkansas. Fit is sometimes not considered by the hiring brokers of college football, which explains how Howard Schnellenberger came to spend 11 months in Norman.
Think about fit, and you can solve a lot of the hiring riddles. Heck, I’ve even got a landing spot for Bielema, should he not make it in Fayetteville. Take over at Kansas State when Bill Snyder retires again. That might be another 15 years; Snyder might go ‘til he’s 90.
But Bielema was Snyder’s co-defensive coordinator in 2002-03. He knows Manhattan. He knows what a blue collar it takes to win at K-State. KSU is Midwest football. That’s a fit.
And so Arkansas and Mack, a coach we miss.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.