Former Texas running back Earl Campbell, the 1977 Heisman Trophy winner, joined the chorus Sunday of individuals calling for the ouster of Longhorns coach Mack Brown.
In an interview with Houston TV station KRIV, Campbell told the Fox affiliate that he considers it time for school administrators to remove Brown, whose team is 2-2 this season and 24-19 in its last 43 games under its longtime coach. Campbell also praised the proactive approach of USC athletic director Pat Haden, who dismissed embattled Trojans coach Lane Kiffin from his duties after the team fell to Arizona State 62-41 on Saturday night.
Asked about removing Brown, Campbell told the station: “Nobody likes to get fired or leave a job, but things happen. I’d go on record and say, ‘Yes, I think it’s time.’”
Campbell added: “I’d just say this: I take my hat off for USC for what they’ve done. They didn’t mess around with it. They just said, ‘Let’s do it now.’ I think at some point our university’s people are going to have to make a decision.”
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Campbell, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, joined former Texas players Chris Simms and Brian Jones among Longhorns who have questioned the recent direction of the program under Brown, 62, who led the team to a 2005 national championship and reached the BCS National Championship Game following the 2009 season. Simms, the only one of the three who played for Brown, told Fox Sports 1 that recent recruiting efforts under Brown have declined to the point that he does not believe the coach can turn around the program.
Campbell, arguably the highest-profile living Texas letterman, took things a step further Sunday. He even offered a suggestion for Brown’s successor: Jerry Gray, defensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans and a former standout defensive back for the Longhorns.
“Some people get too old,” Campbell told the station. “If players get too old to play a game, why can’t a coach get too old to coach it?”
In terms of a replacement, Campbell said: “If we’re going to make a change, I would like to say that we got one in the house, Jerry Gray, who’s getting in the College Football Hall of Fame. I think that would be a good place to start.”
Campbell said it was “very hard” for him to take an anti-Brown stance because Brown “is a very good man.” Brown, who has coached the Longhorns since the 1998 season, has compiled a 152-45 mark at the school. But Campbell considers it time to make a change.
“I just hope he doesn’t stay,” Campbell told the station. “He’s done some great things. The program, he brought it back, and we don’t need it to get run down where somebody has to start all over again.”