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Texas coach Mack Brown steps down

Sunday - 12/15/2013, 3:26pm  ET

FILE - In this Sept. 21, 2013, file photo, Texas coach Mack Brown, right, watches from the side lines during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kansas State in Austin, Texas. Brown has stepped down as coach and that the Alamo Bowl against Oregon on Dec. 30 will be his last game with the Longhorns, the school announced Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013. (AP Photo/ Eric Gay)

JIM VERTUNO
AP Sports Writer

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Mack Brown united and revived a divided and dormant Texas football program and coached the Longhorns to their first undisputed national title in 36 years.

Now after four seasons with at least four losses, Brown is stepping down to make way for the next coach to try to push the Longhorns back into the nation's elite.

Texas announced Saturday night that Brown, who won the 2005 national championship, is retiring after 16 seasons, with his final game to be the Dec. 30 Alamo Bowl against Oregon.

In a statement released by the school Saturday night, Brown acknowledged it was time for a change after a 30-20 record and 18-17 mark in the Big 12 over the last four seasons. Texas is 8-4 this season and lost the Big 12 title to Baylor in the final game of the regular season.

The announcement came after a week of intense speculation about the 62-year-old coach's future and a flurry of reports he was considering stepping down.

"It's been a wonderful ride. Now, the program is again being pulled in different directions, and I think the time is right for a change," Brown said. "I love the University of Texas, all of its supporters, the great fans and everyone that played and coached here ... It is the best coaching job and the premier football program in America.

"I sincerely want to get back to the top and that's why I'm stepping down after the bowl game. I hope with some new energy, we can get this thing rolling again," Brown said.

Brown led the Longhorns through a run of dominance from 2001-2009 when the Texas went 101-16, won two Big 12 titles and twice played for the national championship.

He has 158 victories at Texas, No. 2 behind the late Darrell Royal, who won 167 in 20 seasons with the Longhorns. Brown is 244-121-1 overall in 29 years as a head coach.

"This is a very difficult day for everyone in the University of Texas family," Texas President Bill Powers said. "Mack Brown is one of the best football coaches in the country."

The school scheduled a news conference Sunday for Brown, and to discuss a search for his replacement to take over after the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio. Brown was under contract with Texas until 2020 with a salary of more than $5 million per year. Brown also had a buyout of $2.75 million this year, but terms of any severance deal were not immediately released Saturday night.

Brown' only losing season at Texas was in 2010, when the Longhorns fell to 5-7 after playing for the 2009 season national championship. But Brown's inability to win more Big 12 championships -- Oklahoma won or shared eight league titles from 2000-2012 -- and four straight years of at least four losses fractured the fan base and prompted calls for his departure.

Texas expected a return to national prominence in 2013 behind a team that returned 19 starters. Even Brown talked up his chances to compete for a national championship again.

But Texas started 1-2 to rekindle dissatisfaction that would fester all season, particularly after revelations that in January, several members of the school's board of regents and a prominent donor were involved in efforts to lure Alabama coach Nick Saban to the Longhorns.

The possibility that Texas could hire Saban to take over for Brown ended Friday night when Alabama announced it had agreed to a contract extension with its coach. Texas' announcement that Brown would retire came less than 24 hours later.

Brown was considered the perfect fit at Texas when the Longhorns hired him away from North Carolina in 1997 to replace the divisive John Mackovic. The affable Brown immediately won over Longhorns fans at his introductory news conference when he flashed the traditional "Hook'em Horns" sign and urged fans to "come early, be loud and stay late."

Mackovic's blazer-polished image never seemed to fit the Texas football personality. In Brown, the Longhorns found a kindred spirit -- a boot-wearing Southerner, accent all, who talked about restoring Texas' swagger.

Brown did what no Texas coach had been able to do for 20 years: unite a fan base that had been split since Royal left after the 1976 season. Brown embraced Royal's legacy to help win over fans aching a return to glory, and just as important, he embraced Texas high school football coaches, immediately establishing a talent pipeline from Texas' rich recruiting fields straight into Austin.

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