WACO, Texas (AP) - Texas coach Mack Brown jokingly referred all week to being the only coach in America playing for a conference championship while also shrugging off speculation that he could be replaced.
Well, the intense speculation about Brown's future is certain to increase now. The regular season is over for the No. 23 Longhorns without a Big 12 title after losing two of their last three games, the regular-season finale a 30-10 loss Saturday at No. 9 Baylor, which won its first championship in the league and a Fiesta Bowl berth.
''I'm not talking about any of that tonight,'' Brown said. ''I'm in the same position I was when I've been asked that the other 15 times. We'll talk about the team tonight.''
In what became a de facto Big 12 championship game after No. 6 Oklahoma State's loss to Oklahoma, Bryce Petty threw for 287 yards with touchdown passes on the first two drives after halftime, when the Bears and Longhorns were tied 3-3 in the final game at Floyd Casey Stadium after 64 seasons.
Asked if he thought the season was a success for Texas (8-4, 7-2 Big 12), Brown responded, ''I think so.''
''You've got to figure out where you're going in the bowl game tomorrow then go ahead and finish and try to get your ninth win. Disappointing tonight,'' he said. ''The Oklahoma game fell like we needed it to and we're sitting there in a great position to win a Big 12 championship and you've got 30 minutes to win it. It's disappointing, so we're going to have a task to get their heads back up for the bowl game.''
Though Brown is under contract through 2020, the Longhorns started 1-2 this season. And there were revelations that as far back as January, some top school officials and donors were courting Alabama coach Nick Saban through a meeting with his agent.
''Just got to keep playing and keep winning. We had our chance to get a Big 12 championship this year,'' Brown said, sounding like he plans to be around a while. ''Guys will go out recruiting tomorrow, go back to work, try to win a bowl game, try to get your ninth win and go back to spring practice. We got spring practice in February, so it happens fast. `'
The Bears (11-1, 8-1), who never even had a winning record in the Big 12 before Briles arrived six years ago, have the first 11-win season in school history. They have their first outright title in any league since winning the Southwest Conference on 1980 when Mike Singletary called Floyd Casey Stadium home.
''It's a defining moment for our program,'' Briles said.
Antwan Goodley made a nifty one-handed grab on a slant pass for an 11-yard TD, one play after Petty overthrew his wide-open tight end at the goal line. After Texas went three-and-out, Petty had a 6-yard TD pass to Levi Norwood for a 17-3 lead.
Malcolm Brown ran 25 times for 131 yards for the Longhorns. Case McCoy completed only 12 of 34 passes for 54 yards, two interceptions and a touchdown. The score was a 2-yarder to Brown while scrambling on fourth down after the Longhorns took a field goal off the board after a Baylor penalty on the made kick.
''We had some slip-ups early on in the season and had another slip-up against Oklahoma State. At the beginning of the season, all odds were against us. Just to be here and to be playing for the Big 12 championship, that shows a lot,'' Malcolm Brown said. ''Just shows you can't count anybody out. We just kept on fighting and we were in the position. We just didn't get it done today.''
About the same time the coin toss was happening at midfield in Waco, No. 18 Oklahoma was wrapping up its 33-24 win over Oklahoma State (10-2, 7-2), which with convincing victories over both Baylor and Texas last month was in the position to win the Big 12's guaranteed BCS berth.
''We wanted this for this team,'' McCoy said. ''This team has fought hard, when everyone turned against us several weeks ago.''