Four SEC coaches thought to be on Texas’ big board


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.

Related: Which SEC programs had the highest assistant coaches’ payroll?

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.

Related: Saban is about to get paid at Alabama

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.

Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports



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  • I think Art Briles gets it. He’s shown a knack for turning around programs with fewer resources than Texas. He already knows the Big 12 and wouldn’t have to do much in the way of rebuilding his recruiting pipelines as I’m sure he and Mack Brown visited the same schools.

    So, my money is on Briles.

    • Briles is like Saban and Malzahn, just signed a massive extension. Briles was more to keep the Redskins from poaching him. I think Briles stays in Waco where he’s recruiting some pretty fine talent and he’s getting a brand new, flashy stadium to play in.

  • My money’s on Ed Orgeron. He had a really good turnaround at USC, and since he was passed over for that head-coaching job, the one at Texas will be right up his alley. And with the level of talent and recruits he can work with there, he’ll have a really good shot at building a championship program.

    • Ed Orgeron is more of an experimental idea. Texas wants someone that they know will do well. They don’t want to put their money on a guy that might not pan out. Orgeron failed miserably at Ole Miss despite recruiting 16 current NFL players, and I doubt Texas has forgotten that. I think what Texas should do is hire all of Alabama’s major staff onto Texas, and rip Saban’s power out from underneath him. Sign Art Briles or make Kirby Smart head coach, and watch Saban have to rebuild for a few years while Texas builds a powerhouse.

      • I’m sure you’d love that, as an Ole Miss fan, since that is about the only way they could compete with Alabama. However, I wasn’t aware that Texas’ primary goal was to weaken the Tide by gutting its staff. I’m quite sure that they are more concerned with their own rivals, such as Oklahoma and now Baylor.

        • Dude, of course we (along with every other SEC team) want to some coaching turnover at Alabama. The above suggestion would never happen, but the possibility of Saban leaving for Texas was very appealing. No need to make snide remarks. Bama fans are classless in wins, losses, and message boards.

  • Let’s look at some facts, not the tv hype. 1. The Longhorns were probably the biggest factor in the ruin of the Southwestern Conference and now they are again the biggest factor in dropping the Big 12 conference from tied for top level to probably 3rd or 4th in the NCAA, and the slide downward may not be over yet. How many coaches think that the talent going to Austin and the ranking polls have them grossly over-rated every year. Is it possible for anyone to reverse the growing popularity of aTm, and even Baylor, TCU, and TTech? Is there anyone who is not disgusted with tv burning Mack Brown at the stake for at least half a season and then having a party on his grave during the Heisman Trophy presentation? Just look at the two Texas U. goons who appeared on tv after Mack Brown made his statement. When they were talking about who Mack Brown was, I’m pretty sure I was looking at two people who had the opposite kind of character. I could go on, but my point is ‘great coaches can get paid a lot of money to coach at dozens of programs that seem like far better environments’. Who is running the side-show in Austin now? Any result short of their center of the universe theory about the Longhorns will probably get the next guy fired in 2 years instead of 16 and everybody knows that. And is the problem in Austin one of tv money trying to rig a game, league champ, NCG winner, and the NCAA? If so, there has to be a better way to just let the great sport of college football be football for young men studying to be leaders all over our society. So I hope I’m just uniformed about the real Texas University past and present, I guess we will see by what happens there and maybe in the big 12. And I know all conferences have challenges to keep their members working together for the good of the student athlete and the game.

  • You are wrong as usual. It is Gus, Saban was second choice, when Gus said yes Saban was out so he signed a better contract with Bama.

  • Who CARES!!!!! This is an SEC site. Screw the rest of them. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Go SEC. ;-)

    • Nobody cares about Texas, but what we care about is how it impacts the SEC.

      • And it would impact the SEC if James Franklin left, but he would still be moving from the number 1 conference to the number 3andsinking

        • He’d be moving from what used to be an SEC doormat and is now a pretty constant upset threat to a perennial playoff contender given his coaching abilities and the talent he’d be able to draw at UT.

        • Capt., Vanderbilt would beat Texas 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and James Franklin continues to have good recruiting years. Mack Brown was not a bad coach or recruiter. In the new NCAA you have to win or be second in the SEC, in the Big 12 there is no guarantee that the conference champ is going to get the 4 team playoff. History is…. well history and there would have been times that Vanderbilt to Texas would make sense, but I’m not sure this is the decade. There are only so many places you can spend money in NCAA football. Check Jordan Mathews NFL contract this year against Texas’s top player.
          Here’s where you have an argument, Texas will quadruple Vanderbilt’s coaching staff salary IF they like Franklin and his staff. If they don’t they will all be looking for a job in 3 years max.

  • Whaaaat?!! Lane Kiffin is nowhere on their big board?!

  • Of that list only Charlie Strong should jump conferences

  • I think big 12 would be a good fit for Bobby Petrino’s return to a major conference. They could get him for cheaper than most as well.

  • I don’t picture Fisher just up and leaving FSU and a returning Heisman winner, especially if he brings the Crystal Trophy to Tallahassee. Briles has no real incentive other than a slightly bigger payday to leave Waco, a brand new stadium, adoring fans and a team recruited to run his big, flashy offense. Charlie Strong makes sense. This job has James Franklin written all over it, just imagine what he could do with the resources and recruitment base. But if they can lure Jimbo out of Florida, I like your James Franklin with Jameis Winston scenario.

    • I agree. No chance Fisher leaves FSU. Why would you? I know Texas is one of the best college jobs, but so is FSU. It would be a lateral move at best, but currently it would be a step down. We struggled like hell in the SEC, but we beat Texas by 3 touchdowns in Austin. That tells you where the UT program is right now compared to the top programs.

  • Franklin isn’t going anywhere. He’s at a school in the greatest city in the conference (and one of the few actual cities), a university that provides the best future for his players, has the best team in the state of Tennessee, and the least pressure from any fanbase in the best conference in the country. He’s beaten nearly every team in the conference in only three years, so he can get to and win a conference title with Vanderbilt. And all of this success has come without reaping many of the benefits of his recent Top 20 recruiting classes – he has shown that he can coach up players and enhance their skills to become NFL difference makers (hello, Zac Stacy and Jordan Matthews) rather than simply giving them somewhere to play football with “tradition” and hoping for the best in the NFL Draft.

    Along with his staff, he is already among the highest paid coaches in the SEC, and the school has bent over backwards to provide facility improvements. He has a strong relationship with the other coaches, including baseball Head Coach Corbin, who had been attached to similar rumors of going elsewhere after coaching Vanderbilt to become one of the top teams in the country and made the smart decision to stay in Nashville and build a powerhouse team of his own rather than leach off the legacy of those that would have come before him.

    Considering all of the above, why would he want to go anywhere else?

  • funny talk man….this cat acts like Texas is the promised land of college football and they can just go wherever they want and get whoever they want…Malzahn and Jimbo are both getting ready to play for all the grits; Free $hoes and the Barners are gonna pony up the coins for both of em. Not to mention the fact they are both in the hottest recruiting area in the universe. Charlie is rolling in the dough pretty good in Louisville, so he would cost the Horns for sure, but that is where the odds are at….Charlie Strong. Other than that….pizz on texas

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