When Mack Brown was hired back in December of 1996, Grambling just hired Doug Williams as its head coach the first time around. Both coaches were pushed out the door by their respective schools in the past four months. Texas’ vacancy has attracted a bit more attention, though.
Texas has been philandering behind a glass door with every coach not named Mack Brown for nearly two years. Now that they’re free of Mack, we’ve been privy to Orangebloods.com insider Chip Brown’s (no relation) streaming rumor mill about Texas’ head coaching search.
They’re also the focus of the entire nation. Usually this time of year features a bevy of high-profile vacancies, creating a domino effect in which one opening leaves another. This season, USC, Washington and Boise State got the jump on everyone else and quickly found their targets. Meanwhile, Texas seems as aimless as a Kanye West rant. If these rumored targets are to be believed, all reason has left the building.
Texas stuffed a few more Benjamins in their pockets and became the Kanye of college football. In the past five years, Texas football’s total income has skyrocketed from $72 million to $108 million, and it appears that the new money has gone to their heads. They believe they should be mentioned alongside the blue chip programs like Alabama, Florida or USC, but what has Texas really won in the past 40 years? They're an elite football school, but competing with Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Houston, TCU and now Baylor over such a vast area has to be rough.
The Texas brand has never been more relevant thanks to its revenue growth, courtesy of the Longhorn Network, more specifically, the $300 million Texas is pocketing from its deal with ESPN. Now, it seems they’ve decided to undergo the most expansive coaching search we’ve ever seen.
Seventeen years after quietly hiring Brown, the Longhorns are launching a national search for their next head coach that will likely stretch into the New Year. American Idol auditions don’t take that long. They make everything bigger in Texas including the coaching searches and the egos. Look at the Cowboys or their lack of a home field advantage within AT&T Stadium or Chevy vs. Lamborghini. Bigger isn't always better.
After getting abruptly shot down by Nick Saban, but not as quickly as Kanye was rejected by Nike and the fashion establishment, they’ve reportedly conjured up a list of potential dream candidates led by Mike Tomlin, Chip Kelly (who is under a 18-month show cause penalty) and Jim Harbaugh. Two of those three could be coaching on the sidelines when the NFL playoffs begin after New Years. The other is a Super Bowl winner holding down one of the most stable jobs in all of the NFL.
You can’t believe the flurry of reports emerging out of Texas, either. While Texas was searching for an athletic director last month, there were initially reports circulating that Oliver Luck was their man. Conversely, the Jim Mora Jr. rumors makes absolutely no sense. He’s never been considered a great X’s and O’s coach, he has no southern connections besides the Atlanta Falcons, has just two years of collegiate head coaching experience and hasn’t won a conference championship yet. Don’t believe those for a second.
Preferably, the next Longhorns head coach must know Texas' high school fields like the back of their hands. Baylor's Art Briles probably has the phone number of every coach in the state memorized, but he doesn't seem keen on leaving Baylor.
Michigan State's Mark Dantoni is a Texas native and former Saban pupil who has transformed the Spartans program in just seven seasons. He's spent most of his entire career in the Big Ten up north in Michigan or Ohio. However, his Texas roots have made him a more attractive candidate in the eyes of some boosters.
A firm grasp of what makes Texans tick is ideal unless his name is Jon Gruden. Yes, the obligatory Gruden rumors have also arisen. Gruden is a Cali product with head coaching experience in Tampa Bay and Oakland, but Texas’ athletic department has a Kanye sized ego.
Texas even has it in their heads that they can lure any one of the two coaches at more prominent football powerhouses playing for the national championship to Austin. Not even Kanye thinks he could take Beyonce from Jay Z—I think.
In their defense, Gus Malzahn has reportedly called Texas his dream job in the past, but it’s absurd to think that any coach prepping for the national championship is going to take another rebuilding job beforehand. Especially after he just secured the commitment of the top JUCO prospect in the nation on Wednesday night.
The Longhorn Network has been a game changer for the University of Texas. It nets the school $15 million per year, but its demands and intrusiveness drove Brown crazy. An extroverted coach like James Franklin would be an ideal candidate.
Personality-wise he’s the antithesis of Nick Saban. Can you imagine if Bill Belichick allowed the Patriots to be the subject of HBO’s Hard Knocks? That would be the equivalent of Saban being the Longhorn head coach. Franklin’s coaching upside is Pete Carroll South. The intrusion of the Longhorn Network and Texas’ politics would suit him just fine.
Charlie Strong is a proven winner. However, his prickly relationship with the media is on par with Kanye’s relationship with Sway. If he was hired as the Texas coach head coach, he’d be going postal on one of those Longhorn Network cameras by mid-October.
In fact, Franklin’s resume is eerily similar to 45-year-old Mack Brown’s pre-Texas credentials. Whether that’s a positive in the eyes of Texas’ Patterson and his search committee remains to be seen. He also coaches at Brown’s alma mater. If Brown isn’t ready to hang up his headphones permanently, an exchange may be in order.
Like Brown did at UNC, Franklin has done more with less on a slighly smaller scale. He’s 15-4 in his last 19 games at Vanderbilt. However, there are still burning questions surrounding whether he’s an elite coach. Brown finished seventh in the nation during his final season in the ACC. However, Franklin is working his magic at the SEC’s equivalent to Northwestern.
At 41, he’s been touted as an exuberant prodigy since he was Ralph Friedgen’s coach-in-waiting at the University of Maryland. Sometimes, you have to find the next great head coach before his legacy hatches.
At the same age, Nick Saban was finishing up his only season at Toledo before joining Belichick’s doomed staff with the Cleveland Browns.
Don’t hold your breath though. This may be a protracted process. I don’t have the answers, Sway don’t have the answers and apparently at this point, neither does Texas.