The best college football job is officially open, and I say that with SEC-colored glasses on.
With Mack Brown officially stepping down at Texas, three SEC coaches’ names will be talked about until the position is filled. Remember, this is Texas’ list of coaches, not necessarily who I believe is realistically in play.
James Franklin, Vanderbilt: It’s only a matter of time before Franklin lands a big-time coaching job. It may not be this one, but Texas should take a long, hard look at Vandy’s leader, who is 15-4 in the last 19 games. He’s proven he can build a program and build the brand of a program. If Texas at least gives him an interview, he’ll get the job. Franklin doesn’t lose interviews, and he’s continually the most impressive SEC coach and dominates pressers. He’s great in that setting. This may not be the job Franklin lands, but the hire could cause a chain reaction that ultimately lands Franklin a job where he can win a championship.
Gus Malzahn, Auburn: Much like Nick Saban, Malzahn signed an extension and received a raise for his stunning 12-1 turnaround in 2013. However, there will be some apprehension from Malzahn and Texas; he would be taking his fourth different job in four years. I think he’s the perfect fit for Auburn, and I think his family is happy there. Ultimately, Malzahn isn’t going anywhere, but he is a top three candidate on the big board.
Les Miles, LSU: Miles has popped up on the radar now that the vacancy is officially open. His daughter is also on Texas’ swim team. Miles won a BCS Championship in 2007 and coached for another one in 2011. That seems to fit the type of coach the Horns are looking for. Can you imagine Miles on the Longhorn Network?
Nick Saban, Alabama: Yes, I know Saban just signed an extension, but his name will be on the board until the vacancy is filled. Do I believe he’ll take the job? No, not now. Never have. I’ve contended for several weeks that Saban ultimately will stay at Alabama. He just said Alabama is where he’ll finish his career. I do believe that, but Texas will fight like hell to get him now that the position is actually open. It’s not happening, though.
Other names on the big board:
- Art Briles, Baylor
- Jimbo Fisher, Florida State
- Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
- Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers
- Jim Mora, UCLA
- David Shaw, Stanford
- Charlie Strong, Louisville
- Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers
Prediction: Jimbo Fisher, FSU
If you can’t land Nick Saban, land the closest thing to Saban. Jimbo Fisher is a Saban disciple, and it’s clear he can coach, and his players love him. He would be a great fit at Texas, and I ultimately think Fisher lands the job.
Chain Reaction: If Fisher were to take the Texas offer, another top job will be open in FSU. Who would FSU take? This is a job that would be perfect for Franklin to take. If Fisher goes to Texas, Franklin could land the FSU job. Am I calling it? No, but this is what I was talking about with respect to Franklin and the chain reaction.
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