I have no idea who will replace Mack Brown at Texas. But write off Nick Saban at your own peril.
Saban says he’s staying at Alabama. Which is fine and dandy except for two absolute truths:
* He’s a football coach. Football coaches do not honor contracts. Not college football coaches. Doesn’t matter if a coach has just signed an extension, built a new house or taken a blood oath. College football coaching is not a reputable profession when it comes to honor.
* He’s Nick Saban. We’ve heard it before.
I know Texas will ask Saban. In fact, Texas will do this rather simply. UT will make a list, check it twice and then start going down the list. Here’s what the list might look like:
1. Nick Saban: OU’s worst nightmare would be if Saban stayed to coach the Sugar Bowl, then went to Texas.
2. Jim Harbaugh: I assume Harbaugh would issue a quick thanks, but no thanks. He’s got himself a ballteam with the Santa Clara 49ers.
3. Pete Carroll: This might have been a catch for Texas, had the Seahawks not discovered Russell Wilson waiting in the third round of the 2012 draft.
4. Urban Meyer: Hardly ever does a coach leave a national power for another national power. So rather than try to talk someone into it, why not entice someone who’s already done it? Meyer went from Florida to Ohio State (with a year’s hiatus).
5. Mike Tomlin: This is the longest of all longshots. The coaching job in America is not the University of Texas. Tomlin has the best coaching job in America, unless the Rooney family is about to buy the Forty Acres in Austin.
6. Kevin Sumlin: This would be the ultimate strike – get one of the hottest coaches around while dealing a bitter blow to your once rival that is getting all haughty about being in the SEC.
7. David Shaw: I’m told that Shaw really would like to coach in the NFL, which means he ought to stay at Stanford. Stanford is perhaps the best college job in America from which to reach the NFL. John Ralston went from Stanford to the Broncos (1972), Bill Walsh went from Stanford to the 49ers (1979), Dennis Green went from Stanford to the Vikings (1992) and Harbaugh went from Stanford to the 49ers (2011).
8. Bob Stoops: If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. And while UT is a reasonable 6-9 vs. Stoops, the Longhorns have two Big 12 titles in Stoops’ 15 years at OU. Stoops has seven, plus a co-championship. But I don’t think Stoops would go. Not the right time.
9. Art Briles: A bunch of UT people will have Briles at the top of the list. A Texan if ever there was one. But a bunch of UT people will have Briles nowhere on the list. A raw-boned Texan is the last thing they want.
10. Charlie Strong: Keep an eye on this one. The Louisville coach is going somewhere, you’ve got to believe. Maybe he’s waiting on Florida.
11. Jim Mora Jr.: An NFL pedigree and quality success in two years at UCLA. Plus, Mora apparently turned down the Washington job. Was he waiting on Texas? Makes a lot of sense.
12. Pat Fitzgerald: Not many sharper guys around than the Northwestern coach.
13. James Franklin: Anyone who can win nine games at Vanderbilt ought to be able to win 12 games at Texas.
14. Les Miles: Miles is one heck of a coach. But he’s a little rough around the edges, like Briles, without the Lone Star pedigree.
15. Mike Gundy: A tough sell in Bevoville – Gundy is 1-8 vs. OU.
16. Gus Malzahn: An offensive whiz, but he’s been a head coach for two seasons. One of them at Arkansas State. Maybe Malzahn is the next Saban. Or maybe he’s the next Gene Chizik.
17. Will Muschamp: He hasn’t been successful at Florida. But UT knows Muschamp well, since he was Mack Brown’s defensive coordinator and head-coach-in-waiting, and more importantly, UT likes Muschamp well.
18. Gary Patterson: Just as rough-cut as Briles, but again, without the Texas ties. Other than almost two decades in Fort Worth. The guy can coach some football.
19. Al Golden: Everyone raves about the Miami coach. There must be something there.
20. Brian Kelly: Not a great cultural fit, but Texas seems to prefer a non-fit.
21. Chris Petersen: I know, I know. Petersen just took the Washington job. But remember, this is college football. Void of honor.
22. Bill O’Brien: The guy looks like a big-time coach to me. But he might leave Penn State for the NFL.
23. Mark Dantonio: Except for four seasons at Kansas in the ‘90s, he’s coached only in Big Ten territory since 1980. And he’s 57. But the guy can coach.
24. Bret Bielema: Maybe he should have waited to take that Arkansas job. Hiring away Bielema from Wisconsin would have been a good get for UT. Still should be for Arkansas.
25. Todd Graham: New UT athletic director Steve Patterson came from Arizona State. But remember, ASU first tried to hire June Jones.
MACK BROWN BY THE NUMBERS
16: Seasons at Texas.
9: Consecutive 10-win seasons from 2001-09.
8: Big 12 titles for Oklahoma under Bob Stoops.
2: Big 12 titles for Texas under Brown.
2: Appearances in the national championship game.
1: National title (2005)
.771: Winning percentage at Texas (158-47).
.600: Winning percentage the past four seasons (30-20).
.748: Winning percentage against Big 12 foes (98-33)
.438: Winning percentage against OU (7-9).
COMPILED BY JENNI CARLSON