The Big 12 needs a good Texas football program. Just as the Big Ten thrives when Ohio State and Michigan are great and the ACC cashes in when Florida State is contending, the Big 12 benefits in many ways when Texas is at the top of its game. With a coaching change now underway in Austin, the conference should be glued to what is happening with the Longhorns.
This is no slight on the status of programs like Baylor or Oklahoma State, or even Oklahoma, but when Texas is playing well and driving television ratings it has an impact on the rest of the conference. When the Longhorns do struggle, the impact works in reverse fashion as well. Fortunately the right hire by Texas could turn the Longhorns around in a hurry.
Who is the right hire? That is something still to be analyzed, but there are a couple of Big 12 programs that should be making every attempt to try to make their respective head coaches happy. Art Briles at Baylor and Mike Gundy at Oklahoma State are two names that could play in to the Texas coaching rumors, and for good reason. As Mack Brown’s results were in decline, Briles and Gundy were on the upswing. But would Texas consider hiring a coach from another Big 12 school? Pride and arrogance can get in the way of making the right choice sometimes, but either one of these coaches could be a great fit at Texas. Fortunately for the rest of the Big 12, it may not be likely Texas plucks a head coach from its own conference. Is it?
Whoever ends up being the head coach at Texas in 2014, the message will be clear: Make Texas matter immediately. The pressure will be on, so Texas will need a coach who is driven to deliver results in a hurry. That starts with recruiting. One of the first goals for the next Texas coach should be to lock down more of the top in-state talent and keep rivals from the Big 12 and now the SEC away. If Texas is going to fire back, keeping top Texas recruits at home will be key.
And as Texas makes strides in getting back to the top of the conference, other Big 12 programs will adapt and find new ways to keep Texas at bay. If Texas improves, other programs could follow. The Big 12 may have fallen behind the Pac-12 and the SEC, but the potential for the Big 12 to rise again may be unfolding.
This next head coach at Texas could be a mix of a rejuvenating figure for Texas and a game-changer for the Big 12.