Texas regent talked to Saban's agent
AUSTIN, Texas -- A few days after Alabama won the 2013 national
championship, a University of Texas regent and a former regent talked
with Nick Saban's agent about the possibility of the Crimson Tide coach
replacing Longhorns coach Mack Brown, The Associated Press has learned.
Regent Wallace Hall of Dallas told the
AP he spoke by telephone with agent Jimmy Sexton a few days after the
Jan. 7 game. Tom Hicks, a former regent who is the brother of current
Regent Steve Hicks, also was on the call.
Tom Hicks, the former owner of the Texas
Rangers, the Dallas Stars and the English professional soccer club
Liverpool, was a regent in 1997 when Brown came to Texas and was
instrumental in hiring him away from North Carolina.
Two days after the call with Sexton, Tom
Hicks met with Brown over lunch and told him about the call, according
to several people who spoke with the AP. He asked Brown if he was ready
Brown, who had just finished his 15th season at Texas, said he wanted to keep coaching and the matter was dropped.
On his weekly radio show Thursday night,
Saban said he didn't know anything about the meeting and said he's too
old to start over someplace else. He also joked about Sexton talking to
"That's what they're supposed to do. That's why I hired the guy. That's why I pay him," Saban said.
"Nothing went on that I know of. I mean,
I don't know about any of this stuff. I haven't talked to anybody about
that particular situation. They have a coach there that I've got a lot
of respect for. Every year it's something. Last year, it was the
Cleveland Browns. The year before it was something else, going back to
the NFL," Saban said. "But (wife) Terry and I are very happy here in
Tuscaloosa. We really love the University of Alabama."
Brown, who is under contract until 2020
and will be paid $5.4 million this year, won the 2005 national title and
lost to Saban's Alabama team in the 2010 championship game. The
Longhorns are 23-18 since that defeat and Brown is under fire from fans
upset about a 1-2 start this year after consecutive lopsided losses to
BYU and Mississippi.
Brown has said he plans to coach
through his contract. But three sub-par seasons and two consecutive
losses this season have led to speculation about Brown's future, and
Saban is often mentioned as a potential replacement.
Saban has won four national
championships, one with LSU in 2003 and three with Alabama after the
2009, 2011 and 2012 seasons. Saban earns $5.6 million per year, but
Texas -- the nation's wealthiest athletic program -- could certainly
Whether Sexton initiated the contact
with Texas is unclear. He did not return a telephone message from the AP
on Thursday. Alabama spokesman Jeff Purinton also declined comment.
Hall said a person he would not identify called him, unsolicited, and proposed an introduction to Sexton.
"I notified then-chairman Gene Powell,
who then informed vice chairman and athletic liaison Steve Hicks, which
resulted in a conference call with Mr. Sexton," Hall said in a prepared
statement to the AP. "Introductions were made and then I withdrew from
Tom Hicks declined comment on the call
and the meeting with Brown. Steve Hicks told the AP he was in Australia
the second week in January and said he never talked to Sexton, Brown or
Saban, "or authorized anyone to do so."
"Wallace Hall brought this to the
chairman and myself. Nothing was authorized by the board and the
chairman and myself thought the board should not be involved," Steve
Hicks said. "Tom and Mack are friends and talk often. They simply
visited and just talked the idea through. It was dropped and nothing
happened ... It was a short conversation."
Powell did not respond to messages seeking comment.
Joe Jamail, a billionaire trial lawyer
who is one of the top donors to Texas, is Brown's attorney. When asked
about the conference call with Sexton and the lunch meeting, Jamail
suggested Hall was acting on his own and threatened to sue anyone
outside the university if they try to pressure Brown to resign.
"If there are any more, get ready for a lawsuit," Jamail said. "Mack has publicly stated he wants to coach."
After Brown and Tom Hicks spoke, Sexton
was informed that Brown would not retire, Hall said Thursday. He said
he has not been in further contact with Sexton and didn't know if anyone
else from the university had spoken with the agent.
Hall is under impeachment investigation
by the state House of Representatives and lawmakers have complained
that he has tried to force out university President Bill Powers, who has
been a strong advocate for Brown. Steve Hicks has been among the
regents backing Powers in a public spat that has embroiled the board
members and state lawmakers for more than a year.
A spokesman for Powers said the president was unaware of the call with Saban's agent or the meeting with Brown.
The conversation has been rumored for
months. That a regent participated -- whether on behalf of the board or
on his own -- underscores the pressure Brown is under to turn around his
Texas went 69-9 from 2004-2009. But the
Longhorns slid to 5-7 in 2010 before seasons of 8-5 in 2011 and 9-4 in
2012. With 19 returning starters, Brown suggested before the season that
Texas was on the verge of returning to national prominence. Instead,
the losses to BYU and Ole Miss have left Brown fending off questions
about his future every week.
On Monday, Brown dismissed "rumors" about his job.
"They've been swirling for 16 years," Brown said.