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University of Texas' Head Coach search
Mac Brown has resigned. There's a lot of talk that Texas will not be able to get the "big name" they hope will make a "big splash" in hiring and recruiting. Here's a list cobbled together from a few articles linked below:
Gus Malzahn, Auburn
Malzahn was born in Texas. He spent much of his early career in nearby Arkansas. He's winning national coach of the year awards. In an era of offense-first football, Malzahn is perhaps the best offensive mind around.
During its year between his stints at Auburn, the Tigers averaged 18.7 points and 305.0 yards per game on its way to a 3-9 record. This season, the Tigers are 12-1, SEC champions and set to play Florida State in the BCS Championship Game. The offense has exploded for 40.2 points and 505.3 yards per contest, and Auburn's 335.7 rushing yards per game leads the nation.
Malzahn might be the hottest head coach in America right now, and Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel recently reported that Texas is his "dream job." However, Malzahn and Auburn agreed to terms on a six-year contract extension this month, a deal that has built in raises and will pay $5.1 million in base salary during its final year. Even notorious nomads Bobby Petrino and Todd Graham would raise their eyebrows if he decided to leave right after signing a new deal.
James Franklin, Vanderbilt
If Malzahn isn't the hottest coach in the country, then it would be Franklin. Franklin took over at Vanderbilt in 2011 and has led the Commodores to three consecutive bowl appearances and has a chance at back-to-back nine-win campaigns. Yes, Franklin has done that at Vanderbilt, a school that had been to one bowl game in the previous 36 seasons. From 1975 through 2010 the 'Dores had a winning percentage of .290. Under Franklin, that number is .605.
Franklin recruits well, has the on-field credentials, and is a high-energy guy. His seemingly tireless promotion of the program at Vanderbilt shows a personal quality that would be valuable at Texas. He's a coach who'd look forward to selling his team on the Longhorn Network. Whoever gets the Longhorns gig will be in the spotlight and likely needs an outgoing attitude to thrive.
Charlie Strong, Louisville
For years, Strong toiled as a SEC defensive coordinator longing to take over a program. Louisville finally gave him the opportunity prior to the 2010 season. After 7-6 seasons in 2010 and '11, Strong has led his team to a 22-3 record over the last two years, including a Sugar Bowl win over Florida. He has a great background as a defensive coach, and Louisville has been among the top 25 nationally in scoring defense in three of his four years, including a No. 3 ranking this season.
Perhaps the biggest question mark for Strong is whether he would actually leave Louisville. The coach has been mentioned as a possible candidate for previous openings, but he's indicated a strong sense of loyalty toward his school, once spurning Tennessee to stick with the Cards. Would the allure of Texas trump that loyalty?
David Shaw, Stanford
Shaw hasn't been a head coach long, but he's already had significant success. Taking over for Jim Harbaugh in 2011, he's taken Stanford to three consecutive 11-win seasons and BCS bowl berths. Most thought the Cardinal would take a step down when Harbaugh left for the NFL, but Shaw has proven that he too can run an elite program. USC reportedly had some interest in Shaw before hiring Steve Sarkisian, but he said the feeling wasn't mutual.
As with Strong, the biggest question regarding Shaw's possible candidacy at Texas is loyalty, and it's an even bigger question here. He's a Stanford alum and the son of a Stanford coach, and even if the Longhorns offer a big pay day, it likely will not be enough to pluck him from Palo Alto.
He has eight years of experience as an NFL assistant, and some think if he ever leaves Stanford, it would be for the professional ranks like his predecessor. The Houston Texans are already rumored to be suitors.
Jimbo Fisher, Florida State
If Texas can't get Nick Saban, why not a Saban disciple? After Florida State struggled in the twilight of Bobby Bowden's career, Fisher has returned the Seminoles to prominence. Could he replace another fading legend?
After 10-4 and 9-4 seasons in in 2010 and '11, the Seminoles won the ACC title and defeated Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl last year. Now, FSU is 13-0 and playing Auburn for its first national championship since 1999. Fisher has been an outstanding recruiter for the 'Noles, hauling in four straight top-10 classes, according to 247 Sports.
But Fisher might not be the guy, for the same reasons Malzahn is unlikely to be the guy. He's tied up for a month to prepare for the title game, and he just agreed to a contract extension, coming to terms for $4.1 million for at least the next five years. It's hard to see him leaving a brand-new deal and the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.
Art Briles, Baylor
Briles, who also has a new deal, could be the front-runner. He's from Texas and was a championship high school coach in the state. He knows local recruiting. He's turned Baylor from a doormat into a contender. He coached Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III in 2011.
This year, employing his explosive offensive attack, the Bears have had the best offense in America, averaging 53.3 points and 623.8 yards per game. Baylor defeated Texas, 30-10, in the regular-season finale to clinch its first conference title since 1994 and will play in its first BCS game in January.
Briles appears to be the perfect fit, and Texas could likely out-bid Baylor, but would he leave Waco for Austin? If he continues his current level of success with the Bears, he'll be the most-beloved coach in school history. Baylor will open a new stadium next fall, he just signed an extension, and at 58 years old, he might not want to start over at a new destination, especially one that would be so firmly in the limelight.
But if the question is about which coach would be most likely to find immediate success at Texas, the answer is likely Briles.
Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers
He hasn't been a college coach in 15 years, and he was only a position coach at small schools even then. And when he was connected to USC rumors, he shot those down.
But if CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman says Tomlin is a name to keep in mind, then Tomlin's a name to keep in mind.
Jim Mora, UCLA
Mora has done a fine job at UCLA, turning the Bruins into the best program in Los Angeles. Yes, some of that is because of Lane Kiffin's downfall at USC, but Mora deserves plenty of credit. The Bruins have nine wins this year for the second season in a row, and they can reach 10 with a victory over Virginia Tech in the Sun Bowl. His recruiting has been among the best in the Pac-12, and since he's already in L.A., he knows how to deal with the kind of media scrutiny that would come with the Texas job.
Mora is a Washington alum and once spent a year as an assistant on the Huskies staff, but when that head coaching job opened up a few weeks ago, he didn't have any interest in returning to his alma mater. Texas is a much bigger job than Washington -- and it's bigger than UCLA, too -- but Mora recently signed a six-year extension with the Bruins and seems to be happy in Southern California.
Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers
This might be the best name on the list, even better than Saban. Harbaugh is the one who turned Stanford into a Pac-12 power, and since taking over the 49ers, he's returned San Francisco to the NFL's top tier. The Niners were 6-10 in 2010, but Harbaugh immediately turned them around to 13-3, reaching the second round of the playoffs and winning Coach of the Year honors in the process. It was San Fran's first postseason appearance since 2002. Last year, Harbaugh's team advanced to the Super Bowl, and it's primed for another playoff run this season.
And this was all after taking Stanford from a seven-year bowl drought to a BCS bowl win.
ESPN's Colin Cowherd said Harbaugh would have taken the USC job if offered (and while Cowherd isn't known for breaking news, he's very connected to USC), and if that's really the case, it's not a stretch to think the head coach would consider moving to Austin. But with success building Stanford and in the NFL, would taking over at Texas be a step down? Harbaugh would likely have to have a significant preference for the college game in order to leave the 49ers for the Longhorns.
Barking Carnival wrote this before Saban re-upped with Alabama:
Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
Gundy's overall record at Oklahoma State is outstanding. 77-36 over nine years (OSU started 12-15 under Gundy), but 41-9 over his last four years (including two Big 12 titles -- you know, the same number as the guy who has coached SIXTEEN YEARS at TEXAS). Though Oklahoma State has some financial and facility resources courtesy of T. Boone Pickens, they're still the No. 2 school in a state with a paucity of FBS recruits and a clear step below neighboring OU, Texas, A&M, and LSU in the program potential power rankings. And the recruiting rankings bear that out. This is a program clearly overachieving.
Gundy nearly left Oklahoma State for Tennessee last year, so pulling him away from his alma mater isn't out of the question, especially since his staff sees Texas' advantages up close on the recruiting trail every day. Whether he'd choose to leave at this point is another question.
Nick Saban, Alabama
Yep, the guy who signed a new deal just two days ago will remain part of the conversation until Texas' next coach is giving his introductory presser.
Mark Dantonio, Michigan State. This is a dark horse to consider. (And only in this search would Dantonio be considered a dark horse.) Dantonio has led Michigan State to 11 wins in three of the past four years – and to the Big Ten title in 2013 – with a never-fail, old-as-football-itself system: run the football, protect the football, makes plays downfield, hit the quarterback, jam up receivers, tackle, convert on special teams. If not as big-time as Saban, not as trendy as Fisher, not as local as Gundy or as explosive as Malzahn, Dantonio would put the bread and butter back in Texas football.
Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora)
Yes, Sumlin has a $5 million buyout and makes $5 million a year. But that's pocket change for Texas. So can you imagine the joy that Longhorn fans would feel in stealing away the state's hottest coaching star? Especially since that Aggie little brother has surpassed Texas as the preeminent program in the Lone Star state, what better way to strike at the heart of a rival?
Major Applewhite, Texas (OC)
Todd Graham, ASU. Do you even have to ask? Just because of his connection to AD Steve Patterson.
Will Muschamp, Florida
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