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During the 2013 season, it was an open secret that Texas, even as Mack Brown was technically in place as head coach, was in lust with Nick Saban, with the Alabama coach’s agent, Jimmy Sexton, reportedly playing point man in at least a couple of meetings with those connected to the Longhorns football program. Even as Saban, and perhaps more importantly his wife, publicly stated on a couple of occasions that he was staying put, there was significant angst in Tuscaloosa as UA officials were “getting nervous about the lack of a response” from Saban on a new contract proposal.
While a book detailed the flirtation with the Longhorns, Saban very publicly stated in July of 2014 that he “had no conversations with [Texas] and wasn’t offered anything.” However, in a late-June podcast relayed by our own Zach Barnett over at his main gig at FootballScoop.com, Dallas billionaire and former UT regent Tom Hicks claimed that Saban utilized his agent to reach out to university officials expressing interest in the Texas job after Alabama had claimed the 2012 national championship, the head coach’s third in four years.
Hicks had previously claimed in September of 2013 that he and Wallace Hall Jr., the other regent to which he referred in the podcast, had met with Sexton for 45 minutes, although the portrait at the time was painted as Hicks setting up the call with the agent to gauge the coach’s interest; this time around, however, Hicks intimates that it was the other way around as the agent, again per Hicks, approached him.
“Another regent and I had the conversation with Saban’s agent and [Sexton] said, ‘If Saban was a business guy, he’d be what you would call a turnaround artist. He’s not a long-term CEO. Fix it, win and go on. He knows he will never catch Bear Bryant’s legacy in Alabama, but he’d like to create his legacy that he’s won national championships at more schools than anybody else. He’s done it at LSU and Alabama, and he knows he can win a national championship at Alabama; he knows he can,'” Hicks stated on the podcast, referring to Texas being the school that could put the future Hall of Famer in singularly rarefied air.
Given Saban’s reported interest, Hicks then went to Brown to broach the idea of the current UT head coach gracefully stepping down to make way for his replacement, the man who bested him for the 2009 national championship. Suffice to say, that meeting didn’t go well.
Describing him as “bright red” with “[s]team coming out of his ears,” Brown, per Hicks, stated, “‘That guy is not coming here to win a national championship with my players.'”
That 2013 season, Brown guided Texas to an 8-5 record — that marked the fourth straight season of nine or fewer wins — and resigned his post in December. Brown was replaced by Charlie Strong, who made it through three seven-loss seasons before being dismissed in November of 2016.
Saban, meanwhile, has guided the Crimson Tide to a 78-8 record the past six seasons and added two more national championships to his resume. Whether he ever, as Hicks alluded to, catches Bryant’s legacy in Tuscaloosa remains to be seen, but Saban has tied the coaching great with six career titles.