If SMU fails to land Mack Brown as its next head coach, it won’t be for lack of trying. Or financial incentive.
In a piece detailing just who may emerge as legitimate candidates for the Mustangs job opened by June Jones’ abrupt retirement two games into the 2014 season, Dallas Morning News writer Bill Nichols dropped the intriguing nugget below a handful of paragraphs into the article:
And basketball’s quick ascension under Larry Brown seems to have galvanized the school’s football commitment.
Thus, it’s not shocking that SMU officials have already had preliminary discussions with former Texas coach Mack Brown, floating $4 million annually over eight years, sources say. Brown, 63, fits the Larry Brown model — a national championship winner who can land star prospects on name alone.
A $4 million-per-year commitment would more than double Jones’ 2013 salary of $1.9 million. The healthiest salary for an AAC head coach in 2013 was the $3.7 million earned by Louisville’s Charlie Strong, who, oddly enough, replaced Brown in Austin. Cincinnati’s Tommy Tuberville made $3.1 million at Cincinnati last season, while Strong’s successor at the UofL, Bobby Petrino, will average $3.5 million annually on a seven-year contract.
In his final season at Texas, Brown pulled in just over $5.4 million.
All of the discussion involving Brown, SMU and salary, though, is wholly dependent on whether the coach wants to return to the sidelines.
Earlier this month, the former UT head coach’s attorney confirmed that SMU had approached his client about a return to the sidelines. While acknowledging that Brown misses coaching, the attorney, Joe Jamail, flatly stated that “he’s not interested in coaching anywhere right now.”
Brown, currently serving as a college football analyst on ESPN, himself said a week earlier that he will decide in December if his coaching career is done.
Should Brown decide to take over the reins at SMU, he’d be stepping into an on-field mess. The Mustangs’ offense has scored 39 points in six games this season; 14 teams are averaging at least that many points per per game. UConn is the second-lowest scoring team in the country, and they’ve nearly doubled up SMU’s output (77 points in seven games).
To add insult to offensive injury, the Mustangs rank dead last in points allowed at 48 per game. Not so unexpectedly, they are 125th out of 125 teams in total defense (548.8 ypg) and next-to-last in total offense (249.2 ypg, ahead of only Wake Forest’s 206.7).
On the flip side, the Mustangs qualified for four straight bowl games from 2009-12 before missing out with a 5-7 record in 2013, so there is a recent track record of both some modicum of talent and success. Still, it’s a significant rebuilding effort for anyone who takes over, let alone an individual who will turn 64 prior to the start of the 2015 season.
UPDATE (11:50 p.m.): The SMU Mustangs may or may not have contacted Mack Brown. While the university may be committed to improving its football program, the first step is actually talking with those candidates who might be interested in the current opening.
USA TODAY‘s Dan Wolken tweeted that there has yet to be any contact between Brown and SMU: