The University of Texas has a job opening, and nearly everyone on the planet has their own opinion on who the Longhorns should hire. Stewart Mandel noted yesterday he'd already seen the names of 23 different BCS coaches suggested for the job. With bowl games still five days away and recruiting dead period, speculation on the next Texas coach has become the top down time activity for anyone with a Twitter account. If idle speculation isn't enough for you, Vegas is now taking bets on the next coach to don a burnt orange polo.
What we're saying is, if Texas AD Steve Patterson needs any help, he won't have to look far. He didn't ask, but here's our piece of advice: you're hiring a coach at Texas. You're the flagship school in a state overrun with talented high school prospects. You have enough money to buy Switzerland. You're in a winnable conference. Every single thing a coach could ever want, from fan support to tradition to facilities, you have it three times over. There's only one job in college football like this, and it's yours.
Privately, every coach mentioned in this piece would be flattered to receive a call gauging his interest on discussing the opening at Texas. Heck, every coach in America would. But every coach on this list would publicly say that he has a great job and is perfectly happy where he is. Many already have. And they're telling the truth. They've won their way into great jobs, or they've won so much they've turned their current gig into a great job. That's why they're on the list in the first place. We'd fully expect the next Texas coach, whoever that ends up being, to sing that tune up to the day before he takes the job. Mostly because he has to, but also because he's telling the truth.
Steve Patterson says he will hire a coach with extensive head coaching background at the college level. First, the obvious. Nick Saban is the most successful coach in college football in the past decade. You are Texas. You reach out to Nick and see if there is real interest and if so you meet to discuss.
There has been discussion regarding some NFL guys who had significant success while coaching college ball. In our opinion, the only three guys that fit and who you as Texas would reach out to are Chip Kelly and the Harbaugh brothers. Any of the three could be successful at Texas, but we don't see any looking to move back to the college ranks right now.
If Nick, Chip and the Harbaughs all say no thanks, here are the five guys we believe have earned the next phone calls. Each of these five have great great current jobs, but Texas' call is one you simply have to listen to.
1) Art Briles - No one knows Texas talent like Briles, and no one evaluates Texas talent better than Briles. He's the architect behind the top statistical offense in college football, and he's shown the ability to fit scheme to talent for a solid decade now. He carries himself like the ultimate underdog and operates with a perpetual chip on his back, which could be a fresh perspective at a place accused of fostering a country club atmosphere for the past decade and a half. If you can't beat him, hire him.
2) Jimbo Fisher - Fisher has proven to be a phenomenal evaluator of talent in both players and coaches. The Seminoles replaced a large chunk of their two-deep and more than half the coaching staff before this season - and got better. He's last two quarterbacks are a first-round draft pick and a Heisman Trophy winner; at a school that's going on five seasons of quarterback uncertainty, he'd be a godsend. In four short seasons, Fisher breathed life into a program turned stagnant by a coach who stayed too long (sound familiar?).
3) Gus Malzahn - On three separate occasions, Malzahn has walked into a conference known for its defense and turned the league on its head thanks to a style of offense that has yet to be solved. His offense would be a perfect fit for the type of talent your state produces. And as a former high school coach that hit the big time, he'd win the instant respect of every Texas high school coach.
4) James Franklin - Turned in back-to-back 8-4 regular seasons and top 20 recruiting classes at a school with little resources and even less history, so what would he do at Texas? Franklin is selling - both himself and the program - relentlessly throughout every waking moment of every day.
5) Jim Mora - Like Franklin, he's succeeded instantly at a place with a fraction of the institutional support of Texas. Mora nearly won his second Pac-12 South championship in as many years this fall despite playing close to 20 freshman -UCLA will be a sneaky favorite to win the Pac-12 next season - all at a place that was mediocre as mediocre gets over the past decade. Mora is a no-nonsense personality at a place that, again, could use an injection of hard-nosed toughness.
Each of those nine coaches has a great situation working for him and ample reason to stay in his current gig. But you're only hiring one of them. So, Steve Patterson, make your calls, find out where the mutual interest is, and attack like you're offering a job with a blank check book at a place starving to see itself back among the college football elite.
Which, of course, you are.