The coaching carousel starts anew for one of the most prestigious college football programs in the nations. Come to think of it Texas may be the best job in the entire country with facilities, endowment, and in state talent capable of bringing it back to national prominence. Sure, Mack Brown says he hasn’t officially resigned but we saw this same story with Deloss Dodds earlier this fall and know exactly how that worked out. Here are my odds on who will be the next boss of the Burnt Orange football program.
Before you guys jump down my throat with the “you’re an idiot” posts and tweets here’s a bit of background when setting prices. Clay wrote up his list here but everyone knows oddsmakers see the world very differently than the media. We did this exercise already this fall listing Steve Sarkisian at 8-1 to snag the USC job and although he wasn’t the odds on favorite, the price was more than fair. All the names on this list may or may not actually be in the mix but would make worthy candidates for such a high profile job (kind of). Sure some of them would require buyouts or moves in the shadows of darkness however this is college football not the boyscouts meaning anything is possible. Remember that you have to cater to public perception as much as reality when setting prices.
Nick Saban: 2-1
I originally posted yesterday on twitter that he should be 10-1. Upon further investigation it appears there’s a lot more noise about Nick considering a move away from Tuscaloosa meaning a drastic requirement was needed. We all know the story about his wife looking for a place in Austin earlier this fall, clearly that was just for their potential retirement right? I find it hard to believe Mack would step down in the manner he did if Texas didn’t believe they already had an optimal candidate in place. Stories have surfaced about Saban’s financial security as well given some wayward real estate investments tied to SEC boosters. He’s accomplished all he can at Alabama in my opinion; why not bring another proud program back to the zenith of college football for your final career achievement?
Mike Gundy: 9-2
I heard his name thrown around this past weekend by a close industry colleague Adam Kramer. He made great points about what Gundy's done to bring Oklahoma St back from the abyss. The major strike against Gundy is he's struggled to get through Oklahoma which won’t sit well with Texas boosters. However, he’s known for explosive offenses and an exciting brand of football which would be very attractive to the fan base. His questionable track record of in game management is cause for concern however his familiarity with the fertile recruiting grounds around the Big XII make him a very logical fit in Austin.
James Franklin: 7-1
You want to talk about a fun hire here’s your guy. His youthful exuberance and ability to coach up 3* recruits in just a few short years at Vanderbilt give him a compelling resume. Imagine if he had the resources of a Texas behind him coupled with illustrious football tradition rather than building a program from scratch. I was surprised he didn’t get more serious consideration for the USC job but Texas would be foolish not to consider him for this spot. The big winner if Franklin bolts for Austin? The younger Stoops along with every Tennessee and Kentucky fan.
David Shaw: 8-1
Stanford didn't miss a beat without coach Harbaugh. Shaw has shown the knack for getting to BCS bowls, winning games, and playing power football. I'm convinced if you can win at Stanford you can win just about anywhere. Reason he's not higher on this list is simply because a few people close to the situation said powers that be have soured on him recently but you know what that can mean...absolutely nothing.
Art Briles and Kevin Sumlin 10-1:
Why am I grouping these two coaches together and offering them for the bargain price? It’s because both just recently signed extensions and I’d imagine their respective administrations would rather black ball them out of the business entirely before letting them head to Texas. I never say never in this business where money is king given both of these top coaches would do wonders for recruiting the best offensive talent in the land. Do I think either of them will make the leap? Not really but rather than offer them individually let’s go package deal for the old SWC connection.
Jim Mora Jr 12-1
Another name that’s been thrown into the mix but I believe his cup of coffee in Seattle will be his only foray into testing the waters this off season given his recent extension. I know he’s done a great job with the Bruins but I don’t get all the fanfare around why he’s such a coveted commodity. Texas poses very different challenges than he’s encountered in Westwood where he isn't expected to win national championships yet at the city's 2nd most prestigious program. I don’t think he’ll end up on campus in Austin however people I trust tell me I need to keep his odds respectable “just because.”
Jon Gruden 15-1
Pretty sure he’s going to make every list of coaching candidates at the NFL, NCAA, or High School leve. I don’t think he ever sets foot on a college campus, even Texas, but as an oddsmaker you’d be happy to capture dead money at this price.
Gus Malzahn 18-1
He always said Texas would be a dream job. Auburn just threw the kitchen sink at him and he’d be foolish to leave the job security this dream season has likely created. Never say never and quite frankly it’s always best to land the prom queen when your stock is sky high.
Major Applewhite 20-1
I don’t think he’s ready for a job of this magnitude however why rule him out entirely? There's nothing better than bringing a Texas man to top billing as a step up from offensive coordinator. He's probably not quite there career wise as of now but still an intriguing option.
Todd Graham 25-1
Do you even have to ask? Just because...
Will Muschamp 40-1
This would be the ultimate Texas move like launching the Longhorn Network without the proper cable partners. Bringing Will in after his mediocre tenure at UF would be akin to Auburn hiring Gene Chizik after he’d done nothing in Ames. Actually that’s not true, Will has a better pedigree because he did take the Gators to a BCS bowl whereas Gene couldn’t coach his way out of a paper bag. Relax Auburn fans don’t kill me, you’ve seen Malzahn at work this year so there’s no defending who the real genius was behind the national championship campaign. Muschamp to Texas would be such a Texas move.