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Texas hires Steve Patterson as athletic director

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Harry Cabluck / Associated Press
Texas' new AD will face pressure from Longhorns fans to deliver better results in short order.

Arizona State athletic director Steve Patterson has agreed to take the same position at Texas, multiple media outlets reported Tuesday.

Patterson, 55, has an extensive sports business background, which fits well with overseeing one of the largest and most profitable athletic departments in the nation -- the Longhorns have their own cable network. Patterson has worked for the Houston Texans, Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets, overseeing everything from player personnel to stadium design and financing.

Patterson also received both his bachelor's degree in Business Administration and Juris Doctorate from UT. The latter clearly appealed to university president Bill Powers, former dean of the law school, as finalists Patterson and West Virginia AD Oliver Luck are both graduates of UT's law school.

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Patterson was named ASU athletic director in March 2012 after serving as the program's chief operating officer, laying the foundation for a significant planned renovation of Sun Devil Stadium, a new baseball stadium, and a sports complex adjacent to campus. However, Patterson did not make a hire in either football or men's basketball as AD, and was COO during the messy search to replace former head coach Dennis Erickson that ended with the hiring of Todd Graham.

And, please, spare us your Graham-to-UT jokes.

The reality is Mack Brown's late-season surge has earned the once-embattled UT head coach a reprieve from the firing squad and almost certainly the right to decide if he wants to come back for 2014.

But at some point in the future, Patterson is going to have to hire a new football coach and should have his pick of any elite candidate, save Alabama head coach Nick Saban.

That decision is not a slam dunk. Historic programs like the Longhorns, the Crimson Tide, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and USC all went through significant downturns despite their advantages in terms of recruiting, financial resources, and prestige.

And with well-documented turmoil between Powers and the UT Board of Trustees, Patterson cannot afford to make a mistake with what will be the defining moment of his tenure with the Longhorns, whether it happens next month, next year or five years from now.

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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