The bar was raised again, this time by Texas.
After directing the Longhorns to a 13-0 record and capturing a berth in the BCS championship game, Mack Brown was awarded the most lucrative salary in college sports.
Brown will now command $5 million annually in a deal that still extends through 2016. A clause remains that provides Brown a "significant" position within the university if he voluntarily resigns. No timetable has been set for Brown's departure.
When that does happen, defensive coordinator Will Muschamp will be elevated to head coach as part of an arrangement struck last year. Muschamp earns $900,000 annually as the second-highest paid college assistant in America. He trails Tennessee defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, who makes $1.2 million.
The compensation is factored entirely from revenue earned by the football program. A year ago, Texas football generated $87.6 million, which was tops in the country. Estimates for revenue this year top $100 million following the expansion of Royal-Memorial Stadium to more than 100,000 seats.
"We've got the best football coach in the nation at the University of Texas," Dodds said. "We're the envy of lots of institutions. I'm just real proud of where we are. I like the stability."
Texas didn't really need to up the ante for Brown. He's probably not going to take another job. But hey, the money is there so why not flaunt it? Besides the publicity the move generated speaks to the solid footing Texas enjoys in football.
Texas supporters will like Brown even more if the Longhorns can win their second national championship in five years. The odds seem stacked against them, however, after their narrow escape against Nebraska in the Big 12 championship game was compared to Alabama's impressive rout of Florida for the SEC title.
Stopping Alabama's Heisman-winning running back Mark Ingram looms as the greatest challenge for the Texas defense. Colt McCoy and the Longhorns' offense, meanwhile, face a Bama defense allowing 241.7 yards and 11 points on average.
--In a conference that has been slowed to a crawl by replay officials all season, it seemed only fitting the Big 12 championship would be decided by, yes, a replay.
It was Texas that benefitted when officials deemed one second needed to be put back on the clock, giving the Longhorns one last play in the conference championship game.
They made the most of it. Hunter Lawrence came on and made a 46-yard field goal, enabling Texas to edge Nebraska 13-12. The win preserved an undefeated season for the Longhorns, who climbed to 13-0 and squeaked into the national championship game against SEC champion Alabama on Jan. 7 in Pasadena, Calif.
It seemed fitting that Lawrence got his chance to shine. With all the blowouts Texas recorded to get into the Big 12 title game, his accurate kicks barely received any notice with everyone focused on the leadership of McCoy, the breakaway talents of receiver/return man Jordan Shipley, and a Texas defense that was notoriously stingy and always capable of scoring off a return.
"Everybody on the team was really confident," Lawrence said of his first game-winning field goal in four years with UT.
"We went out there, and I knew I'd make it. ... Our offense did amazing the last minute to give us a chance. And I just had to make it for them."
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Heading into the Nebraska game, the Longhorns had found virtually all the tricks needed for a potent offense. QB Colt McCoy not only was the nation's most accurate passer, but he was beginning to hit his receivers on deep routes. The shackles also had been lifted on McCoy to make him a double-threat as a runner. WR Jordan Shipley is the most consistent pass-catcher in the Texas stable, though WR James Kirkendoll and WR Malcolm Williams have shown the capability to break big gains. The run game lacks a consistent threat, though RB Tre' Newton was beginning to blossom before Nebraska shut down the UT attack.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: After allowing Texas A&M to enjoy a field day with 500-plus total yards, the Longhorns stiffened and looked like their normal selves against Nebraska. Of course, the Huskers are severely limited with what they can do offensively, but credit Texas for allowing just four field goals in the Big 12 championship game after the Huskers managed three takeaways. Nebraska picked up just five first downs and 106 total yards. Texas is excellent within each position group. DE Sam Acho blossomed as a pass rusher, LB Roddrick Muckelroy is the leading tackler, LB/DE Sergio Kindle diverse at different assignments and S Earl Thomas is the leader in the secondary with a school-record eight interceptions. Texas allowed just six completions in the Big 12 title game.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Texas' interior line vs. Alabama DT Terrence Cody -- Cody isn't the same kind of sack-master from the interior that Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh is, but he can create similar havoc by collapsing the pocket and blowing up plays. In general, "Mount" Cody eats up a lot of space and is hard to move. The Longhorns will worry about the middle of the offensive line for a month after it was unable to keep the Huskers out of the backfield, allowing permitted 18 tackles for loss, including nine sacks.
OTHER KEY MATCHUPS: Alabama RB Mark Ingram vs. Texas LB Roddrick Muckelroy.
OK, the entire Texas defense must contain the Crimson Tide threat, who wowed the country with 113 yards rushing and three touchdowns against Florida in the SEC title game. Ingram, a sophomore, ran for a school-record 1,542 yards while becoming Alabama's first Heisman Trophy winner. Muckelroy leads the Longhorns in tackles, though as run stoppers, the unit relies heavily on a stout defensive front led by DT Lamarr Houston. UT leads the nation in rushing defense with a 62.1-yard average. Alabama (77.9) ranks second.
Alabama LB Rolando McClain vs. Texas' running backs.
This figures to be one of the bigger mismatches in the game. Texas had trouble all season developing a consistent rushing threat before finally settling on speedy RB Tre' Newton. Still, QB Colt McCoy may be as dangerous as any of the Texas rushers with his ability to scramble. McClain was named the Butkus Award winner as the nation's top linebacker. The 6-4, 258-pound McClain not only covers the field but inflicts punishment. He led the Tide with 101 tackles, including 12.5 for loss.
Alabama CB Javier Arenas vs. Texas WR Jordan Shipley.
Shipley has long been a favorite target for QB Colt McCoy. The two are longtime friends and roommates. Arenas was an All-SEC cornerback who made opponents afraid to challenge him. Two Alabama teammates, Mark Barron and Marquis Johnson, were credited with more passes defended, 17 apiece. But Arenas could match up most frequently with Shipley, who led the Big 12 with 10 touchdowns scored, eight off receptions and two off returns.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "One of the young guys said it in the dressing room, which was so correct, that we could quit talking about 0.128 now because it's gone. And the guys, a year and six days ago, committed to come to the (Big 12 championship) game and win, and be undefeated and they've done that." -- Texas coach Mack Brown, referring to the decimal points the Longhorns lacked in the BCS standings last year to overtake Oklahoma in a tiebreaker the Big 12 used to determine the South Division champion.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
BOWL BREAKDOWN: Texas vs. Alabama, BCS National Championship Game, Jan. 7, Pasadena, Calif. -- Texas claims an overwhelming advantage in previous matchups between these storied programs, leading 7-0-1. A 3-3 tie in the 1960 Bluebonnet Bowl is all that prevents a clean sweep by the Longhorns. Alabama goes into the game as the favorite after stomping Florida 32-13 in the SEC championship game.
The Crimson Tide is balanced on offense, relying on RB Mark Ingram for both tough yards and breakaway potential. He gained 113 yards against Florida, with three touchdowns, while QB Greg McElroy threw for 239 yards and a touchdown as the game's MVP. The Alabama defense is ranked second nationally (Texas is third) with a 241.7-yard yield. The Tide leads the country scoring defense at 11.0 points per game allowed.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
QB Colt McCoy -- Entered the Big 12 championship game as the leader in the Heisman Trophy outlook, but did himself no favors by throwing for just 184 yards and no touchdowns, with three interceptions, against Nebraska.. McCoy ranked as the Big 12's most efficient passer (19th nationally), while throwing for 3,512 yards and 27 touchdowns.
S Earl Thomas -- Ranks second nationally in passes defended with 18, including eight interceptions, which ranks first in the Big 12 and second nationally behind UCLA's Rahim Moore.
WR/PR Jordan Shipley -- Averaged 13 yards per return and broke two runbacks for touchdowns. One of five receivers in the country to snag more than 100 receptions, he averages 104.8 yards per game with 106 receptions (a UT record) and 11 touchdowns.
PK Hunter Lawrence -- It was no fluke he connected on a 46-yard try to win the Big 12 championship game at the buzzer. Lawrence is 22 of 25 on field goals for an .880 percentage.
--CB Aaron Williams missed much of the Nov. 26 victory against Texas A&M with a deep leg bruise, but he played well in the Big 12 championship game and snagged an interception in the end zone after Nebraska blocked a punt.
--P Justin Tucker continued to struggle with his rugby-style boots. One was blocked and another was returned to the Texas 10-yard line after the line drive allowed the cover unit little time to motor downfield.
--DT Lamarr Houston and DB Deon Beasley, both of whom were shaken up in the Texas A&M game with injuries that were not considered serious, played against Nebraska. Houston ranked second among the Longhorns with six tackles.