Men's Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds reiterated the statement that the choice was strictly Reese's, and that Brown had not planned on any off-season coaching changes.
"This is Carl's decision," Dodds said. "It wasn't Mack's. It wasn't mine. I'll miss him as a friend. There's not a better person on earth than Carl. This is a loss to Texas."
Last week's Holiday Bowl loss rekindled widespread speculation that both Reese and offensive coordinator Greg Davis might be reassigned following a 10-3 season. The questions directly surfaced during UT football press conferences in the days following the 65-13 loss to Oklahoma, the most lopsided in series history.
It begs the question: would Reese have resigned if Texas had won a couple of more games this season.
"That's a tough one, I really don't know," Reese admitted. "That's something that didn't happen, so I don't know. I think probably not. You want to win them all. I mean, really and truly as a coach, if you're going to be successful you win them all and move on and the next year you try to win them all again. You strive for perfection and you make a defensive game plan for perfection."
Reese said his decision surprised Brown when they met during a Saturday staff meeting. Reese called Dodds Sunday and said he wanted to make a change and "I don't know how to do that." Dodds responded, "Well, let's talk about you not doing that." Together they determined that Reese, whose $231,790 annual contract would have extended at least through August 31, would officially conclude his affiliation with the program on June 1.
The fact that Reese will resign from Texas in five months does not mean he will necessarily retire from coaching.
"We didn't win the last game so, shoot, I want to coach again," Reese said. "We've got that survival instinct. I want to coach again and prove that I can, basically. I think I still have some coaching in me. I still think I have some fire to coach in me, but I'm at a phase in my life where if I don't get what I want here in a couple of months, I can retire."
There are few assistant coaching opportunities that hold the same status as a Texas football coordinator's position, Reese said. The transition period will allow him to mull his options.
"If it (coaching) doesn't happen, then I'm ready to go on and I'll probably open a bait shop in Missouri and sell minnows," the 60-year old Reese said.
Reese, a tri-captain and fullback on Missouri's 1966 Sugar Bowl Champion team, said he is open to a possibility of an NFL assistant coaching stint. If not, Reese envisions himself in a place like Reed Spring, Missouri, "and I may go down and help out the junior high coach."
"This is the best football job that I've had in 37 years of coaching and Mack Brown is the best head coach that I've ever been around," Reese said. "He cares about people. He runs a clean program. He's going to do it the right way. And I want him to win the national championship. I want Texas to win the national championship, and Texas is one of the few jobs in the country where you can."
Dodds said that he did not have a "short list" of possible replacements but "Mack probably does." That "short list" would likely include Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator and former Longhorn All-American Jerry Gray. Gray interviewed for the Bills head coaching job yesterday after former head coach Gregg Williams was fired last week.
There is also the lingering thought that defensive back coach (and PAC-10 native) Duane Akina would not have turned down the coordinator's gig at UCLA last season if he did not anticipate inheriting the spot following Reese's departure.
"There are football coaches on this staff who can certainly run the defense and do the things you need to do is win the national championship," Reese said, before adding, "Every defensive football coach in this country would probably get in a car and drive here on their own to coach at Texas. Yet on this football staff you've got guys who can do the same thing, if not better, than I can. It's Mack decision."
Reese took a defense that ranked 104th nationally in rushing (241.5 ypg) and 85th in total defense (399.2 ypg) and produced five straight Top 25 total defensive finishes. His 2001 unit lead the nation in total defense (236.2 ypg) and ranked 25th nationally (329.8 ypg) this past season.
Yet Reese's bunch finished 2003 ranked No. 59 against the rush, down from its No. 47 rating the previous year. Texas continued to fail to pressure opposing quarterbacks, particularly in losses to Washington State, Oklahoma and Arkansas. By November, Brown commented that both the run defense and pass rush was "disappointing."
The Holiday Bowl loss, combined with media leaks of Reese's decision, fueled speculation that more coaching changes would be forthcoming.
"I had a pretty normal day yesterday and I had gotten a call that said the web chat rooms were kind of wild," Dodds said. "I was really shocked by all of it. First of all, Mack makes the decisions about assistant coaches. I have had no conversations with Mack about doing anything with the staff. I've had no conversation from the (UT) president about anything with football, and nothing from regents and nothing from that they call the ‘money people.' I've had no calls from ‘money people' about making changes. Now, I've had calls during the year from people that donate money who have advice, but we get that all the time. But this has been football as usual."
Brown, in Orlando for the American Football Coaches Association annual gathering, said in a press release that "We hate to see him go, but Carl's a great coach and an even better person and I respect his decision."
For the latest breaking news on the Longhorns' coaching situation, see the Inside Texas Members Only message board.