Longhorn Coaching Search: Still Dreaming and Scheming
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Say what you want about the bowl season; at least it's kicked the Texas Longhorns' coaching search off the front burner for a while.
Game reports and more significant stories such as the inevitable NCAA Division 4 proposal are receiving more oxygen from the media. So is the constant undercurrent of more and more schools losing money by attending the bowls, and that now includes the BCS bowls. Will this ultimately provide impetus for change and an even more expanded playoff system?
Enjoy the respite for one more week. After that, it's back to the soap opera that is Texas football these days.
According to reports, the Longhorns have trimmed their official list to four names everyone already knows:
- Art Briles - Baylor ... A Texan through-and-through, and there's only so much he can do in Waco
- Jimbo Fisher - Florida State ... Really? Yes, the dosh is attractive, but how long did he wait for Bobby Bowden to retire so he could have the Seminoles job? He has it made in Tallahassee. Does he truly think the dysfunction in Austin will be worth the extra bucks-ola? After all, these are coaches; at this level, the contract size is more about keeping score than financial security. Obviously, someone in Fisher's camp must be listening, but he's already ahead of the game where he is.
- Charlie Strong - Louisville ... He's still Bovada's odds-on leader in the clubhouse. Basketball is still king at Louisville, and Strong's stock isn't going to get much higher. And never doubt that a sportsbook may know something the general public doesn't.
- James Franklin - Vanderbilt ... Believe it or not, Texas actually cares about its athletes' grades. It's one of the best public academic institutions in the nation. If Duke is the South's version of Harvard, then Vandy is its embodiment of Stanford. Franklin has proven he can produce winners who put up solid GPAs. That's a factor that can't be taken lightly, rogue boosters with warped sensibilities notwithstanding.
But believe or not, according to Paul Finebaum on Twitter yesterday, one source out of Austin maintains Nick Saban is still in the mix for the job.
His source may be right this time. Now that a multiple-insider timeline has been published showing how close Saban came to taking the Texas job in mid-December with hints it may be time for both sides to talk again on Thu 2 Jan, perhaps there's still a healthy fire behind all the smoke. And remember, Saban's Alabama contract has no buyout clause.
However, it finally seems like the 'Horns have gotten the message that Gus Malzahn is happy at Auburn.
Briles and Fisher just signed long term contracts with their schools, and Briles is rumored to have interest in the NFL's Washington Redskins to reunite with star QB Robert Griffin III. His Baylor deal includes a $5million buyout, but both the 'Horns and 'Skins can pull that kind of dosh out of their front pockets.
If either Franklin or Strong gets the job, it would mark the first time in University of Texas history that it's had an African-American head coach. Strong helped his case Saturday night when the Cardinals took down Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Franklin needs no more bullet points. The fact that he's been prominently mentioned for every major job out there speaks for itself.
Something else speaks for itself, too. Bovada has since put Saban on the board at 11:2.
Shrewd move. That'll reap a ranchload of Texas action.