University of Texas President Bill Powers said Thursday that the school has not reached out to Alabama's Nick Saban and no decision has been made on the future of Longhorns football coach Mack Brown _ or even a decision on whether any decision must be made.
"We don't have an answer" to those questions, Powers told the American-Statesman. "Mack's our coach. I haven't talked to him about the future. Nothing has happened. The team and he are concentrating on the Baylor game." Asked if Brown has told Powers that he wants to stay at Texas beyond his 16th season, Powers said, "That's for Mack to decide. I think he would (tell me)." Houston attorney Joe Jamail, one of Texas' biggest benefactors and Brown's personal friend and attorney, told the American-Statesman that Brown could decide to leave or stay, but won't reach his decision until the regular season is over. Jamail said Brown isn't leaning one way or the other.
Brown's contract, which pays him $5.4 million, runs through 2020.
Brown, Powers and new men's athletic director Steve Patterson are all going to New York City on Sunday for the National Football Foundation and alumni meetings. Jamail was supposed to go, but has a trial in Beaumont beginning Monday.
Asked if the ball is in Brown's court, Jamail said, "It is for sure. Mack has not made any kind of decision, and I know him better than anybody. If he thinks he's not any longer good for the University of Texas, he'll decide not to stay." The outcome of Saturday's Texas-Baylor game could well influence Brown's choice. Texas (8-3) faces Baylor (10-1) in Waco with the winner guaranteed to have no worse than a share of the Big 12 title. If Oklahoma upsets Oklahoma State on Saturday, the Texas-Baylor winner wins the league outright.
"I would guess that would have an effect on anybody," Jamail said. "If he wins, there's no point in even thinking about leaving. You've won the conference championship if our friends the Okies do their part. And if they don't, Texas would still wind up in the Cotton Bowl." On another matter of considerable recent interest, Powers totally debunked widespread reports on that Texas has decided to replace Brown with Saban.
"I've never met Nick Saban. I've never talked to Nick Saban. We have not hired Nick Saban," Powers said. "Mack's our coach, and I can say flatly that the rumors we have hired or come to an agreement with Nick Saban or even talked to him are false. The reports on the blogs are just wrong. I don't know where they get this stuff." Powers did acknowledge previous reports that a current Texas regent and a former regent spoke with Saban's agent, Jimmy Sexton, in January about the possibility that Saban could replace Brown. After that meeting, former regent Tom Hicks spoke to Brown about it, but Brown said he didn't want to retire.
"There was an outreach to his agent, and I exempt that from this discussion," Powers said. "Whatever happened then, happened. We don't have any plans one way or the other (to replace Brown). And we don't have an opening." Asked whether he is awaiting word from Brown on his future or whether any meeting would be held on that matter, Powers demurred. He acknowledged, however, that Patterson will play an important role in personnel matters, subject to approval by the university president and contractual approval by the UT System Board of Regents.
"I have not talked to Steve Patterson about that," Powers said, referring to any decisions regarding Brown. "He is the kind of person who comes in and evaluates and looks and gathers information and moves forward. I think he's still in learning mode." On another matter related to athletics, Powers said the university is in the early stages of considering where it might build a multi-purpose arena to replace the Frank Erwin Center, which is slated to be torn down several years from now to make way for an expanding medical school. It will be challenging to find a site within walking distance of campus and off-campus housing, he said.
But first he must grapple with the fluid situation involving his football coach.
"Mack really is upbeat," Jamail said. "And that's not a game. He's less stressful than I've seen the last five, six years. He has not decided what to do, I can tell you that for sure."