National Columnist

Hear the story about Mack Brown firing the sideline radio reporter?

The Rod Babers story is manna from heaven for Texas fans disgruntled with Mack Brown, which is a lot of them, and for anyone who just doesn't like Texas -- which is a lot more than that.

The Rod Babers story illustrates an egomaniacal coach who is power drunk and willing to take down anyone who gets in his way. The Rod Babers story is an indictment of the nice man we thought we knew as Mack Brown.

But the Rod Babers story isn't true.

Don't take it from me. Take it from this guy:

"No, it's not true," says Rod Babers.

Those of you new to this story, meet Rod Babers. He played cornerback at Texas from 1999-2002. Since 2011 he has been the Longhorns radio network's sideline reporter.

Or he was the Longhorns radio network's sideline reporter, until this week.

When Mack Brown forced him out.

That's the Rod Babers story I'm talking about, and if it were true it would be delicious for anyone on the anti-Mack Brown bandwagon, which is growing by the day and recently added Earl Campbell. But it's not true. This I know, because this I had to find out. If it were true, brother, this story today was going to tear into Mack Brown -- because you just don't do what the story said he did. You don't force out a radio guy for daring to speak his opinion during what has been a lowly stretch for Texas football.

Brown didn't do that -- but Rod Babers did in fact resign this week from the Longhorns radio network. He did in fact resign because he felt his desire to speak his mind was creating friction with people at the Texas athletic department. That stuff is true, Babers says. He did receive phone calls and emails from Texas athletic folks, complaining about the things he was saying in his gigs as sideline reporter and radio host [Babers has an afternoon show at KVET 1300 AM in Austin].

But it didn't come from Brown. Babers told me who it came from, and they're low-level athletic department people. They don't do Mack Brown's bidding. They work for Texas football, and yes Rod Babers has been hard on Texas football because the truth is, Texas football is in a bad place. For whatever reason the team doesn't have the talent or, no, the coaching it had when Mack Brown had that thing rolling a decade ago. It's not rolling now, but lurching, and Rod Babers -- a former Longhorn who says he loves his school and football program -- has dared to talk about it.

He even dared to talk with Mack Brown about it.

"After people [within the athletic department] kept asking me about my loyalty," Babers told me Wednesday night, "I finally decided to find out: Is this coming from Mack? So I called Mack and asked for a meeting."

Yes? And?

"And it was amicable. He told me he didn't like some of the things I've said, but he said I have a job to do and he respects that. We talked, and we agreed to disagree, and at the end we hugged it out."

You what?

"We hugged it out, and then we said we love each other."


"Mack's a father figure to me. He recruited me. He was my coach. I love the man, and I believe he loves me, and the Mack I know wouldn't send people to tell me he had a problem with me."

So why did you resign?

"Because there's obviously some tension when I walk into the locker room. I have my opinions and the players know it, and it really is a conflict of interest. Texas has some problems right now, and I'm not part of the solution. I'm part of the problem.

"With all that, I couldn't do both shows well, so I chose the radio show over the sideline show."

And there you have it. The rest of the story. Mack Brown probably has overstayed his welcome at Texas, but let's not use the Rod Babers story as an example. Because it's just not true.

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