BY PAUL J. WEBER
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas coach Mack Brown declined to say Thursday whether the Alamo Bowl will be his final game, amid intense speculation following another disappointing season that began with the Longhorns talking about becoming national championship contenders again.
“My situation has not changed,” Brown said.
Speaking to reporters for the first time since multiple published reports this week indicated that he might step down, Brown said he has yet to talk with new Texas athletic director Steve Patterson and university President Bill Powers about the job he’s held since 1998.
He deflected several other questions about his future during a news conference in San Antonio about Texas’ bowl game against Oregon on Dec. 30.
“I want to sit down with (Patterson) and Bill in the near future and talk about where we’re going and where our program is going,” Brown said.
About an hour later in Austin, Powers reasserted his support for Brown and said they planned to speak in the coming days. Powers is among Brown’s top supporters, but Powers is facing questions about his own future — UT regents were meeting Thursday to discuss his employment amid a two-year power struggle over academics on one of the nation’s biggest campuses.
“Mack Brown is one of the greatest football coaches of all time,” Powers told reporters before regents began a closed-door meeting. “He’s done tremendous things for the University of Texas, and I feel about him the same way he feels about me.”
Brown acknowledged the Longhorns (8-4) didn’t finish how they wanted after starting the season talking about competing for a national championship. The Longhorns last played for a BCS title in 2009, but fan frustration has mounted after a string of seasons that failed to meet expectations.
Notably attending Brown’s news conference was influential Texas booster Red McCombs, who is a close friend of Brown’s and one of the university’s most generous donors. McCombs told reporters he hopes Brown comes back next year — but didn’t blink about the caliber of coach Texas could get to replace him.
If the Longhorns job comes open, expect more speculation about Alabama coach Nick Saban replacing him. The AP reported last month that after last season Texas regents had spoken with Saban’s agent about the possibility of replacing Brown and approached Brown about stepping down.
Saban has deflected those reports. But McCombs expressed confidence about Texas’ ability to lure him to one of the wealthiest athletic programs in the nation.
“I don’t think there is any question about `getting him,’” McCombs said. “When Mack came there, budgets were an issue; they are not an issue now. Hell, all the money that’s not at the Vatican is up at UT.”
Brown is 158-47 at Texas, including a national championship in 2005 and another BCS title game against Alabama four years later. But since 2009, the Longhorns are 30-20 and 18-17 in the Big 12.