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Dodds cautioned those who want coaches fired with the example of Tennessee, which won the 1998 football national championship. Since firing Philip Fulmer in 2008, the Volunteers are on their third head coach and the program is swimming in debt reported to be at $200 million.

“People think we only care about the money. Of course we care about money. Look at Tennessee,” Dodds said.

According to figures released by the university, Longhorn Foundation donations have gone up every year since 2007, with more than $36 million last year.

But frustrating Texas fans further was the rise of longtime rival Texas A&M to national prominence in its first year in the SEC.

The Aggies, who many assumed would struggle to make the transition to college football’s premiere conference, nearly turned the league upside down behind quarterback Johnny Manziel, the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy.

That Texas tried to recruit Manziel to play safety is just another burr in the backside for Longhorns fans who have watched quarterbacks Garrett Gilbert, David Ash and Case McCoy struggle the last three seasons.

Even McCombs brought up Manziel as a misfire.

“I’m sure they would like to have some choices to make over again,” McCombs said. “We’ve got good players, they just weren’t good enough.”

Texas’ struggles on the field may be hurting recruiting. The Longhorns signed 15 players Wednesday, but this year’s class was notable because national recruiting experts didn’t rate it among the best in the country.

Brown, long considered a dominant recruiter, was burned by several players who committed to Texas only to change their mind. Most notable was the 11th-hour defection of top-rated defensive lineman A’shawn Robinson to Alabama.

“It may be disappointing on the day it happens, but you want people that will look you in the eye and tell you the truth and you want people that want to be at your school,” Brown said.

The men’s and women’s basketball programs are struggling through their own downturns.

The men are just 10-12 in coach Rick Barnes 15th season and are floundering near the bottom of the Big 12. Unless the Longhorns stage a huge turnaround over the final month of the season, they appear likely to miss the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1998. The same goes for the women, who are 9-12 in a rough first season for coach Karen Aston.

While the losing irritates fans, university regents were embarrassed by revelations that two of its most prominent coaches had inappropriate relationships with students.

In October, a former women’s track athlete told school officials she had a relationship with track coach Bev Kearney in 2002. Kearney, who won six national championships with the Longhorns, was suspended in November while the claim was being investigated and resigned on Jan. 5. The school has said it was in the process of firing Kearney when she resigned.

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