The 8-4 Texas Longhorns are scheduled to take on the No. 10 Oregon Ducks in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 30, but reports suggest 16-year head coach Mack Brown won’t be on the sidelines.
After months of speculation and a rabid fan base calling for his dismissal, several reports indicate that Brown will step down as Longhorns head coach by the end of the week. Texas had a shot at the Big-12 title and a BCS berth, but fell to Baylor 30-10 last week, which might have been the 62-year-old’s last stand.
However, there have been some conflicting reports as to whether Brown is even leaving. Originally reported by Orangebloods.com on Tuesday, Brown was supposed to announce his resignation by the end of the week. Later in the day, Brown told 247 Sports he was unaware of the report and that he was in Florida meeting with recruits.
There are still signs that Brown is heading for the exit, with a reported compensation package assuring the coach $1.3 million per year until 2020 and a continuing position as “liaison and ambassador” for the school, according to Inside Texas.
And while many will want to celebrate Brown’s tenure (158-47 record, 10 bowl wins, six Big 12 South titles, three conference titles, and the 2005 national championship), the developing story is whether Alabama’s Nick Saban will make a shocking move to Austin. There could also be a new candidate on the rise should Saban stay put: Auburn’s Gus Malzahn.
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The four-time national title winning coach refuted rumors that tied him to the Texas job earlier in the season, but there are already mixed reports that Saban will be the next Longhorns coach, or that he is considering the job.
On Tuesday a beat reporter for the Fort-Worth Star Telegram tweeted Saban would be the next Texas coach, citing an unnamed source, and later back tracked slightly and said his source was “very confident,” as reported by The Big Lead.
Another report went even further, and detailed how sweet a deal the Longhorns might be offering Saban. According to KWTV in Oklahoma City, sources say Saban is “sitting” on a 10-year $100 million deal that also includes a one percent share of the Longhorn Network, something the Crimson Tide cannot match.
The Longhorns are already the richest program in the country, pulling in $77.9 million last year, and has the national following to rake in even more with their own cable network.
Alabama’s loss to Auburn has nixed any chance of a fourth national championship in the last five years for Saban, and could be enough sour grapes for him to move on to the easier Big-12, a conference that could make for a smoother road to further national titles than the SEC.
It’s also no surprise why Saban is already the highest paid coach in the country and Texas’s likely No. 1 choice. He has put up a 74-14 record in seven seasons in Tuscaloosa, and is the first coach to win national titles at two different schools during the AP era. He’s also sent numerous players to the NFL, arguably his best recruiting tool.
But the intriguing sleeper choice could be SEC Coach of the Year winner Malzahn, who in one season guided the Tigers from last to first in the SEC and a date with Florida State for the national title. Last season, Malzahn also turned Arkansas State around with a 7-1 Sun Belt record and conference title.
Malzahn, 48, has a 14-year age advantage over Saban, who might not want to coach for another 10 years, considering the strenuous recruiting schedule required for the top college jobs. The Arkansas native signed a six-year extension last week, but the door might not be completely closed on an exit from Auburn.
A Sports Illustrated report earlier this month revealed that Malzahn has privately told friends that Texas is his “dream job.”
"The response is, I'm tickled to death to be the head coach of the Auburn Tigers," Malzahn said to AL.com.