The University of Texas will reportedly buy out the contract of athletics director Steve Patterson, which seems to be moving quickly.
A report from Brian Davis and Kirk Bohls on HookeEm.com says University of Texas President Gregory Fenves is expected to fire Patterson as early as today. The two are expected to meet Tuesday to make the decision official. Former Texas linebacker Mike Perrin is expected to be named the interim AD. Former Longhorns head coach Mack Brown is not expected to be a candidate for the permanent job, although Brown did meet with the university president before this decision was made, according to the report.
What does this mean for Texas football? For starters, Charlie Strong is not going anywhere. While it would be ideal for an AD to be able to choose his or her own football coach, Strong is just underway in his second season of what was supposed to be a multi-year rebuild. No AD, be they interim or permanent, will step in and make that drastic a change right off the bat. The 2016 season could tell a different story, but let’s hold off on any thought of Strong being let go as head coach of the Longhorns. For now, Strong’s job should be considered safe.
What Texas needs is an AD that will smooth over relations with the donors and fans that support Texas football. That has been one of the biggest issues Patterson has been faced with, with a bulk of the responsibility for a strained marriage falling on his shoulders. Texas needs someone that can come in, make the best decisions for the Longhorns from a budget perspective but also from a public relations stance. Patterson may have been making decent business decisions, but it alienated the supporters in the process. There needs to be a balance between making hard decisions and pleasing those who fund the program and university from their own checking accounts. That is where Patterson ultimately failed, and where Texas can ill-afford to mess up again.
Texas should not simply hire a Texas guy for the sake of making Texas fans happy. It is still OK to think outside the box with its next AD hire, and it remains OK to bring in someone with no previous ties to the Longhorns. A fresh point of view can benefit Texas, but it will also be important whoever the next AD ends up being understands the pressures to make fans happy. Donors will be happy to continue writing checks as long as they feel appreciated and the team is winning. If the team is not winning, then the AD needs to bend over backward to sell the message it is committed to improving without caving too soon on Strong as head coach.