Mack Brown's favorite Red River Shootout experience was his first one, when he was Oklahoma's offensive coordinator in 1984 driving through a rain-soaked fairgrounds. But over the past five years, the annual Texas-Oklahoma clash has come to symbolize a personal Groundhog Day for Brown, the Texas coach whose legacy is increasingly threatened by the results of one day: the first Saturday of October.
Without question, Brown has been widely successful in eight seasons in Austin. Texas is the nation's only school ranked in the last six Bowl Championship Series polls and one of only two teams with seven consecutive seasons of nine or more victories.
For fans, that's immaterial.
They eye Texas's 52-11 record the past five seasons, which stands third nationally, and imagine an even better mark if five straight losses to Oklahoma were erased. During Oklahoma's run, the Sooners have scored more than 60 points twice and last season shut out the Longhorns, seemingly adding more weight to Brown's shoulders with each triumph.
"It bothered me four or five years ago," Brown said. "I get judged on different things by different people, and if this is the one they are judging me on, I haven't done very good. . . . I wish they would judge me by some of the ones we won all the time."
Today, Brown encounters both the best opportunity to break the streak and the best chance to provide the most significant stumble Longhorns fans can fathom. The second-ranked Longhorns, winners of 11 straight games, are two-touchdown favorites. Oklahoma, 2-2 and unranked, is directed by a first-year starting quarterback and has injuries aplenty.
Since last year's 12-0 defeat, Texas has not lost and quarterback Vince Young, a strong Heisman Trophy hopeful, has engineered several dramatic comebacks. Win today and Texas becomes a favorite to play for the national title. Lose, and talk about Brown's inability to win the big game grows exponentially.
"It's not his fault," Young said. "It's pretty much all our fault."
-- Eric Prisbell