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With Mack not coming back, to whom does Texas turn?

Mack Brown AP

After months — hell, a couple of seasons — worth of speculation, Mack Brown‘s tenure at Texas finally and somewhat mercifully came to an end, with the longtime Texas head coach announcing Saturday night that he would be stepping down after 16 seasons in Austin.

While there’s still the matter of a bowl game to put an official end to Brown’s time with the Longhorns, the search to replace a man who had been on the job since 1998 has commenced in earnest.  Given the fact that UT is the most financially well-heeled football program in the country, don’t look for the university to target the hot coordinator du jour initially; rather, look for athletic director Steve Patterson and those who lord over him to chase a veritable who’s who of head coaches at both the collegiate and professional levels.

Despite appearances — and how laughably clumsy Brown’s departure played out in the media — Texas is still one of the top coaching jobs in any American sport let alone college football.  UT officials should have little problem attracting top-flight candidates from across the country in spite of themselves and their backroom politicking.

With that as a backdrop, here’s a look at some of the names of coaches who have either already been mentioned or could potentially be mentioned as replacements for Brown… and knowing full well that there’s a very real possibility that absolutely none of those mentioned will be the guy to actually replace Brown.

Nick Saban, Alabama
Whoops.  Sorry.  Force of habit.

Jimbo Fisher, Florida State
Armed with a contract extension that will make him one of the highest-paid head coaches at the FBS level, Fisher will lead his Seminoles into the BCS title game early next month against Auburn.  Fisher, who knows full well the weight that comes with replacing a legend, has seen his name pop up in connection to a potential opening at UT earlier this month, and look for the Longhorns to at least reach out him even as they could likely save themselves some time by not doing so.

Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers
Reportedly, Harbaugh is unhappy with ownership and could be open to a move back to the collegiate level.  The former Stanford head coach was asked earlier this week about interest in a potential opening at UT, and didn’t take kindly to the line of questioning.  It would seem unlikely that Harbaugh would drop back down to the collegiate level at this point in time, but Texas is one of the few programs in the country that could, to a point, go dollar-for-dollar with the NFL.

Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
Out of all the names that will be mentioned, this is the one that would be both in the realm of possibility and considered a home-run hire by most.  Finishing up his ninth season with the Cowboys, Gundy showed last year by talking to Arkansas and Tennessee about their openings that he’s at least receptive to overtures from other schools.  Add in the tension with his bosses, and Gundy could very well be in play if/when Texas reaches out.  Weakening a conference rival would be an added bonus for UT.

Art Briles, Baylor
Like Fisher, Briles recently received a contract extension that would seemingly lock him down with the Bears for the foreseeable future.  Buyouts will be no hindrance in UT’s search, however, and Texas is expected to at least make a run at a coach who could very well do more for the football program than any other name on this list.

David Shaw, Stanford
Prying Shaw off The Farm would seem to be the dictionary definition of a pipe dream, but UT would be doing its program a disservice if they didn’t at least make a run at one of the best coaches at any level of football.  It’s likely Stanford need only worry about the NFL when it comes to retaining Shaw, although Texas could certainly make a convincing case if, as unlikely as it is, Shaw is willing to listen.

James Franklin, Vanderbilt
Reportedly a candidate for the USC job, Franklin will see his name connected to every significant opening until he actually leaves the Commodores.  Known as a master recruiter, what Franklin could do with the talent-rich state of Texas has to be intriguing on multiple levels to UT.  In his time with the Commodores, he’s led his team to three straight bowl appearance; prior to his arrival, Vandy had appeared in just four games in its century-plus existence.  While happy at Vandy, Franklin’s ears are open to any and all who want to discuss a move.

Todd Graham, Arizona State
Graham has shown, ahem, a propensity to be attracted to the next shiny coaching thing.  Born and raised in the state of Texas, Graham became a high school coaching legend in that state.  He left Rice after one season for Tulsa and bolted Pittsburgh after just one year for his “dream job” at Arizona State; do you think he wouldn’t at least be mildly interested in listening to overtures that would bring him home and result in him taking over the flagship football program in his state?

Kirby Smart, Alabama
If you can’t get Saban, why not target the man who has helped play a significant role in returning Alabama to national prominence?  Smart has been tied to several head-coaching vacancies over the past couple of years, but has yet to pull the trigger on getting out from under Saban’s shadow.  It’s only a matter of when and not if the defensive coordinator becomes a head coach.  If Texas goes for a first-timer to replace Brown, they could do a lot worse than Smart.

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55 Responses to “With Mack not coming back, to whom does Texas turn?”
  1. eidolon21 says: Dec 15, 2013 11:16 AM

    urban urban or urban

  2. thefiesty1 says: Dec 15, 2013 11:21 AM

    It might be whoever Mack Brown picks as his successor. Any of those listed would be a good fit, but not likely. It’s going to be a Christmas surprise.

  3. face21000x says: Dec 15, 2013 11:21 AM

    You think he would leave OSU for UT?

  4. normanbrennen says: Dec 15, 2013 11:27 AM

    Didn’t Patterson get language put in his contract/buy out that he can’t hire anyone from ASU (Graham)?

  5. timh1955 says: Dec 15, 2013 11:29 AM

    It’s amazing the arrogance of UT. They think they can get anyone to be the Head Coach but it didn’t work with Saban and it won’t work with most of the potential coaches on this list. There are several teams that would be a lot more attractive to the list of good coaches. The position would be attractive to coaches like Franklin or Gundy who are coaches at smaller programs than UT but to have the arrogance to think they could get an NFL coach is a joke. Also why would Saban go from the best conference and best team in college football to a weak conference with a much weaker team???

  6. goodfieldnohit says: Dec 15, 2013 11:38 AM

    Until Texas stops conducting it’s private business in public, it won’t matter who they hire. They’ve been nothing more than a clown show since the day DeLoss told the world that they are the Joneses.

  7. 49ersalldaway says: Dec 15, 2013 11:39 AM

    You can scratch Todd Graham off the list. Part of Patterson release agreement from ASU was he was not allowed to hire from ASU.

  8. BrownsTown says: Dec 15, 2013 11:41 AM

    Don’t know much about Franklin’s coaching prowess. Wish I could have seem it close up….

  9. padraighansen says: Dec 15, 2013 11:45 AM

    I’ve heard that it’s Gundy’s to lose now that Saban is out.

  10. lurch61 says: Dec 15, 2013 11:49 AM

    As I remember a few weeks ago USC was heralded as a “top notch” program that would go after the best of the best and spend whatever money necessary to land the perfect coach. Who is it again they ended up with???

  11. bender4700 says: Dec 15, 2013 11:50 AM

    Mike Gundy would be the smart hire. He’s reasonably attainable. He’d put them back up in the national picture.

    Art Briles would be the best hire, but doesn’t seem likely. Just don’t seeing Art turn his back on Baylor just after signing the extension.

    Jimbo is the most unlikely hire. His team is competing for a national title with a Heisman QB coming back for sure next year. Highly paid, great weather, recruiting is great. Why leave?

    James Franklin is the hire that seems like a great move, but I doubt it happens. Just doesn’t seem like a guy they’d go for. But who knows. Mack did come from North Carolina.

    David Shaw is the hire that a lot of programs would love to make, but doesn’t seem they will be able to. Not sure he leaves Stanford.

    Todd Graham is the hire that literally cannot happen. Why is he on this list? He literally CANNOT be hired by his former AD. Way too much legal mess for a guy in his “dream job”.

    Right now, Mike Gundy seems really good for them.

  12. bender4700 says: Dec 15, 2013 11:55 AM

    SportsCenter ‏@SportsCenter 38m

    As Mack Brown steps down at Texas, one huge name on the wish list for AD Steve Patterson is Eagles coach Chip Kelly. (via @mortreport

    hahahahahhahahahaha wow

    Ok folks, lets lose all reasonable rationale, and just sit back and watch. Texas is a top job, but that doesn’t mean guys like Chip Kelly are going to leave an already really great job just because they call. Oh plus Chip Kelly has a show clause too.

  13. realfootballfan says: Dec 15, 2013 11:56 AM


    Pretty sure that agreement for Patterson was talking about the support staff. Graham’s contract wouldn’t come into play here, and he would be able to hire him if he pleases. However, I have to say if that’s who Texas ends up with, that would have to be very disappointing for their fan base. The NFL coaches like Harbaugh are a pipe dream, and Fisher or Malzahn are coaching in national championship games. In other words, bad timing and not going to happen. Franklin or Gundy I would suppose is their best bet.

  14. hodag54501 says: Dec 15, 2013 11:56 AM

    An odd listing from the standpoint that no current NFL assistants are mentioned. Lets see, you would have to give up 80+ hour weeks and middling pay for a few million a year at a premier college job.

    Here’s another: Lovie Smith. Texas all the way.

  15. hittfamily says: Dec 15, 2013 12:03 PM

    The FSU job is a better job than the Texas job. Jimbo is going nowhere.

  16. imaduffer says: Dec 15, 2013 12:03 PM

    I think it will be Condi Rice because she knows all that football stuff and everything.

  17. timh1955 says: Dec 15, 2013 12:06 PM

    How about George Bush since UT thinks they can get anyone?

  18. raysfan1 says: Dec 15, 2013 12:09 PM

    Don’t forget Mark Dantonio.

  19. v2rotate says: Dec 15, 2013 12:21 PM

    “The FSU job is a better job than the Texas job. Jimbo is going nowhere.”

    Thanks for the Sunday comic relief. For a school that can afford $10 million per year no buy-out is going to be a problem. Everyone knows about Graham so ASU would not have anything to be worried about anyway. Same with Gundy.

    Chad Morris (OC at Clemson) is the only coordinator that will be considered. Briles and Malzahn are the only two who meet the Texas HS coaches prerequisite.

  20. lottsmissingfinger says: Dec 15, 2013 12:31 PM

    Texas may not be the BEST gig in college football like most media sources have reported but to deny it’s one of the Top 5 is just ridiculous.

    Shaw would be a dream hire but I think the only job he leaves his alma mater for is one in the NFL.

    The thought of Mike Gundy being the head coach at Texas makes me throw up in my mouth a bit.

    As far as coordinators go, there is so much involved at Texas other than just coaching, it’s hard to imagine they’d hire someone without HC experience.

  21. lbijake says: Dec 15, 2013 12:36 PM

    v2rotate says:
    Dec 15, 2013 12:21 PM

    “The FSU job is a better job than the Texas job. Jimbo is going nowhere.”

    Thanks for the Sunday comic relief. For a school that can afford $10 million per year no buy-out is going to be a problem. Everyone knows about Graham so ASU would not have anything to be worried about anyway. Same with Gundy.
    Let’s not confuse money with class.

  22. classyjacklambert says: Dec 15, 2013 12:40 PM

    What’s Gene Chizik up to nowadays?

  23. fatediesel says: Dec 15, 2013 12:48 PM

    For anyone questioning whether Texas could hire Todd Graham, here’s a quote from a College Football Talk story when Texas hired Steve Patterson as AD:

    “For him to be hired by Texas (specifically), I had to give permission for that,” Crow said in a report by The Arizona Republic. “As a function of our agreement, he’s not allowed to hire someone from ASU.”

    So if Texas tried to hire Graham, they would almost certainly get sued. Is a lawsuit worth it for a coach whose biggest accomplishment is going to the Holiday Bowl?

  24. monsterright says: Dec 15, 2013 12:49 PM

    timh1955 says:
    Dec 15, 2013 11:29 AM
    ……Also why would Saban go from the best conference and best team in college football to a weak conference with a much weaker team???

    Where does this comment come from? 2 bottom tier programs from this conference are competing at a high level in the SEC.

  25. tampabayirish says: Dec 15, 2013 12:54 PM

    If I am a Texas fan, after Saban, none of the likely candidates get me very excited. It would be a shame for them to have to settle for Gundy. The job seems bigger than him. I would prefer Harbaugh if you could get him. I will give you another name that would be a home run hire…Pete Carroll. With Pete’s ability to cut corners, his likability, his ability to relate to college age men, his eye for talent and Texas unlimited resources, they would win a national championship within 5 years.

  26. amosalanzostagg says: Dec 15, 2013 1:16 PM

    Best hire is Gary Patterson currently at TCU.

    (1.) Has taken TCU as far as TCU can go. TCU was great when it was a rising mid major. Now in a big boy league, they could be at best, the fourth best team in the conference behind OU, texas and OSU, and

    (2.) Deep, deep recruiting ties with Texas High School
    Football coaches.


  27. goodfieldnohit says: Dec 15, 2013 1:17 PM

    Franklin, Strong, and Shaw are way too pigmentationally challenged for the blue blods at the 40 acres.

  28. bralinshan says: Dec 15, 2013 1:25 PM

    Jim Mora is attainable for Texas because he’s effectively capped at UCLA. They simply don’t have that kind of cash and he’s already dealing with facilities that are second rate compared to Oregon and USC…
    His ego is also HUGE and he’d embrace the panache that comes with the Texas job…
    This is a guy to watch for…$17.9M, 6-yr extension? No worries because at $3M per year, he’s ripe for a huge raise at Texas and UCLA can’t do a thing about it.

  29. bralinshan says: Dec 15, 2013 1:32 PM

    Florida State is a better job than Texas in one large respect. FSU is in the same type of amazing recruiting area like Texas so that’s a wash..
    But, the ACC is bad. And FSU can win them all in the ACC without breaking a sweat now that Jimbo’s got the same caliber of player that Bowden had…

    Seriously, in a 4-team playoff, FSU should be in that mix EVERY year. Remember, during a 14-year run, they finished in the TOP 4….EVERY YEAR.

    FSU combines great resources, incredible recruiting, deep pockets…and a conference that’s almost guaranteeing them a Top 4 shot every year…without the pressure of Texas.

    Essentially, that’s the formula that has Bobby Bowden #1 all time in wins. Saban has to go against LSU, Auburn, Texas AM, etc…FSU plays….Clemson and a substandard Miami.

  30. realfootballfan says: Dec 15, 2013 1:34 PM


    I’ve brought up Patterson several times and gotten down voted because I guess the name has lost it’s sizzle. However, if you respected Chris Peterson enough to throw his name around for every big time opening as a “dream” hire, I don’t know how you don’t respect Patterson. Furthermore, knowing the state’s ins and outs should be one of the criteria for hiring, one of the many reasons I think David Shaw would be out of his depth there.

  31. sportsguy3434 says: Dec 15, 2013 2:22 PM

    I think BBender has a good list. Probably be a few others thrown in, but they could get someone from that list. And Todd Graham is out as mentioned.

    Speaking of dream team, pick your HC then bring back Chizik for DC and Orgeron for OL and recruiting. That would be scary, especially if someone like Gundy were runnning the offense.

  32. halbert53 says: Dec 15, 2013 2:25 PM

    No matter how anyone tries to slice it, Mack Brown was forced out.

    Hiring a head coach from a conference school is pretty much admitting you have been out coached and out recruited several years by a rival. It also would be pouring salt in the wound with Brown supporters.

    Gundy, Briles and Patterson are excellent coaches, but aside from the concerns from the UT perspective, do any of these three want to tear down what they have built (and for Gundy that would be tearing down his alma mater) to go work for a conference rival? Jumping ship to UT would be worse than Saban leaving LSU and winding up at Bama. They would lose a lot of respect.

    You really are looking for a person with HC experience who can operate under a microscope. Strong , Freeze or Mora would be good hires.

    Kirby Smart might be decent but is unknown as no HC experience. Chavis you don’t want.

    I would try to hire Gundy but would be fine with Freeze. Strong is on easy street heading into ACC and he probably will pass on UT so he can take the UF job once Muschamp gets fired.

    Freeze and Ole Miss beat UT by 21 in Austin. That gives him instant credibility to current UT players and recruits.

  33. pgilbert2013 says: Dec 15, 2013 2:33 PM

    Mac, Good luck with finding a new team to coach. Your were a total gentlemen here in Austin.

    This move will be good for you and UT.

  34. afrancis55 says: Dec 15, 2013 2:37 PM

    Why not lane kiffin? The arrogance of the UT alumni and boosters is a carbon copy of kiffins personality.

    It’s a match made in heaven!!

  35. canehouse says: Dec 15, 2013 2:46 PM

    Yeah Jimbo ain’t going to leave trailertown for a dumpster fire. To even suggest his name is lazy and dull!!

  36. realfootballfan says: Dec 15, 2013 3:04 PM


    I agree with you on most of what you said except the Patterson thing only because TCU is only recently in the Big 12 and clearly haven’t adjusted to the difference in the competition, much like we’ve seen with other programs like Utah who have gone from small conference to the big time. Patterson is just tapped out at what he can realistically do with the relative resources available at TCU in relation to other Big 12 programs, and he will only be able to rev up that program every few years, rinse, and repeat. Freeze is a good idea as I didn’t realy understand why he jumped at the Ole Miss job. He seemed destined for bigger programs to come sniffing around for him had he just waited a couple of years and dominated that level of competition he was taking on. Now, he’s going to look like a job hopper to some if he does leave for Texas or some other big time program if he does leave this quickly. Another guy who’s star has faded a bit but is doing as much as could be expected where he plays is Dan Mullin at Mississippi State although I think he might be better served to wait for the Florida opening again.

  37. normtide says: Dec 15, 2013 3:28 PM

    Again, this isn’t the good old days. Texas can’t just hire anyone they want. Saban would be their coach if they could. John was saying the same things about USC, and they had to fall back to Sark because they were refused by the coaches they wanted. Texas is an elite school, but coaches can get paid at a number of schools. Sorry Taylor, but your living in the past here. Plus, no Strong on your list?

  38. princeopus says: Dec 15, 2013 3:36 PM

    houston nutt will get an interview
    garry pinkel will get a look
    les miles will turn it down
    al golden would make the jump
    dave cutcliff will get an interview

  39. amosalanzostagg says: Dec 15, 2013 3:41 PM


    Never endorsed Petterson for any position. You must be confusing me with someone else.

    Patterson is a horse of a different color. Gary was the force that made TCU football (along with the Bass family). When Franchione left for Alabama( Yes, even Alabama makes mistakes.), Franchione wanted him to go with him to Tuscaloosa.

    The current TCU players marched enmasse to the President’s Office and lobbied very hard for Patterson as Head Coach. The rest was history.

    Patterson is very underrated as a recruiter and an x’s and o’s coach. He has taken TCU as far as TCU can go. TCU will always be behind Texas, now Baylor, OU, and OSU in the Big 12. Fifth place in a ten team league won’t cut it.

    A Texas hire of Patterson would go over very well with Texas High School Football
    Coaches and all of the sudden the quality football players who are not prototypical
    recruits that Texas sought would start elevating Texas again.


  40. billmead1976 says: Dec 15, 2013 4:00 PM

    just to remind usc of the 2006 Rose Bowl. Steve Sarkisian.

  41. realfootballfan says: Dec 15, 2013 5:53 PM


    I didn’t say you endorsed Peterson for another job, but rather I said that when I brought Patterson up for Texas, I got down voted but Peterson was routinely outed in these comments section as a great choice for any big time opening that came up. I think you and I agree on this one, namely that Patterson should be tops on the Texas list.

  42. auburntigers34 says: Dec 15, 2013 8:06 PM

    monsterright says: Dec 15, 2013 12:49 PM

    Texas A&M and Missouri were bottom-teir programs in the Big 12? that’s probably the dumbest comment that I’ve ever seen on this site.

    Missouri was 58-19 their last 5 years in the Big 12(just short of averaging 10 wins a season). Texas A&M has NEVER been bottom tier. The SEC hate/envy on this site is ridiculous.

  43. auburntigers34 says: Dec 15, 2013 8:07 PM

    48-19. sorry for the typo

  44. normtide says: Dec 15, 2013 8:23 PM

    Aubie, my favorite excuse is “espn has a contract with the SEC, and they falsely promote their dominance”. Espn has contracts with every league.

  45. auburntigers34 says: Dec 15, 2013 8:35 PM

    No doubt. Nobody campaigned harder for a USC/Oklahoma match up in 2004 than every talking head on BSPN and Charles Woodson can thank them for Peyton Manning getting shafted out of a Heisman his Senior year, but ESPN loves the SEC.

  46. auburntigers34 says: Dec 15, 2013 8:41 PM

    And if A&M and Missouri were bottom tier, I’d love to know what this clown thinks of programs like Iowa State, Kansas, Texas Tech, and Kansas State(without Snyder). Throw in a mediocre TCU and a horrible West Virginia and over half of their conference is “bottom tier”.

  47. normtide says: Dec 15, 2013 8:57 PM

    See to me, that’s the difference between the SEC and everyone else. The SEC has five teams that are BCS champs, plus Georgia is a top tier team. No other league has more than two BCS champs, and maybe three to tier teams. The twelve have two, Texas and Oklahoma. The ten really only has OSU now, Michigan and Nebraska were but not now. Almost half the SEC are power programs in every sense, throw in strong programs like USCe and A&M, and it is half the league.

  48. 49ersalldaway says: Dec 15, 2013 9:28 PM


    According to Arizona State president Michael Crow, the Longhorns couldn’t hire Graham even if they wanted.

    “For him to be hired by Texas (specifically), I had to give permission for that,” Crow told Jeff Metcalfe of the Arizona Republic. “As a function of our agreement, he’s not allowed to hire someone from ASU.”

    Per an interview after Patterson was hired.

  49. boomgrounder says: Dec 15, 2013 11:07 PM

    It’s going to be the winner of the National Championship Game. Either Jimbo Fischer or Gus Malzhan. Agent Jimmy Sexton handles them both and is negotiating a deal with Texas which will make the winner of the game the highest paid coach in the history of CFB. Both coaches have agreed in principal to coach the games and winner take all, the National Championship and the highest paid coaching job in history as HC at Texas.

  50. vols84 says: Dec 16, 2013 12:35 AM

    LANE KIFFIN. The situation is eerily similar to when Fulmer was forced out at “The Real UT”. Longhorn Nation be careful what you ask for. The Real UT has been spiraling ever since.

  51. realfootballfan says: Dec 16, 2013 1:41 AM


    Just saying what I’ve heard locally about that when people brought up Graham’s name. Patterson pissed alot of people off when he left town (right after telling the president and boosters to their face he wasn’t interested in the Texas job), so I don’t even think a gentleman’s agreement would be honored anyway; however, locally the word was that was regarding support staff as the fear was that he would take his assistant (amongst others) who is being thought of as a possibility as the next AD here.

  52. timh1955 says: Dec 16, 2013 2:33 AM

    monsterright says:
    Dec 15, 2013 12:49 PM

    Where does this comment come from? 2 bottom tier programs from this conference are competing at a high level in the SEC.

    timh1955 says:
    And there are seven SEC teams in the top 25 including four in the top 11. The SEC has won the past seven NC’s. You look ignorant when you argue that the SEC is not the dominate conference.

  53. ronarch13 says: Dec 16, 2013 8:38 AM

    What is the biggest thing in Texas? The Teaxans’ overinflated egos. Seriously that state is not big enough for the size of their expressed egos.

  54. 8to80texansblog says: Dec 16, 2013 12:06 PM

    They aren’t getting Shaw or Saban… Harbaugh is pipe dream… I really don’t think Briles leaves Baylor…

    I don’t think they go with a top coordinator… they’ll think that’s below them… so Smart is out.

    So Gundy, and Franklin… but why is no one saying David Cutcliffe?

    Wouldn’t surprise me at all if the Horns go back to tobacco row again to snag an HC on the rise.

  55. thehawg says: Dec 16, 2013 1:46 PM

    How about Al Golden from UM ?

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