On Saturday night, the Texas Longhorns released a long overdue statement regarding head football coach Mack Brown’s status with the team.
After 14 seasons, including four straight four-loss years and one national title, the 62-year-old Brown is set to retire, ending a week of speculation and denial. Brown’s last game will be the Alamo Bowl against the No. 10 Oregon Ducks.
The Longhorns had a shot to capture the Big-12 title but fell just short after their loss to Baylor in the final week of the regular season. Even before the game, Brown’s departure seemed all but absolute, with rumors of Alabama’s Nick Saban taking over.
Saban and the Tide agreed to another lucrative extension before the Longhorns statement on Saturday, dashing any chance the four-time national champion coach moves to Austin.
Despite the team’s recent woes on the field and in recruiting, whoever takes over for Brown has some large and successful shoes to fill. Brown compiled a 158-47 record, along with two conference titles, and the Longhorns earned a bowl berth in 13 of his 14 seasons.
After Saban, several big names were thrown around, but it seems unlikely Texas would be able pry a Jim Harbaugh from the NFL, or even Urban Meyer from Ohio State.
Some more realistic choices include Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin, Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, and Baylor’s Art Briles.
Maybe the biggest reason why the Aggies were able to mold quarterback Johnny Manziel into a Heisman winner, Sumlin has reportedly agreed in principle to a six-year extension with A&M, but has yet to sign it.
According to NFL.com, Sumlin might be holding out for the available Houston Texans job, considering his time at the University of Houston. From 2008 to 2011, Sumlin totaled a 35-17 record with three winning seasons capped by bowl berths.
What this says most about Sumlin is that he is considering a move up. If the NFL job falls through, the considerably larger and wealthier Longhorns program could swoop in for the 49-year-old.
Another coach responsible for finding and developing young talent is Florida State’s Fisher. In four seasons he’s won two straight ACC titles, and has positioned the Seminoles back in the national spotlight for the BCS title against Auburn next month.
He also convinced newly-crowned Heisman-winner Jameis Winston to come to Tallahassee, and sent quarterback E.J. Manuel to the NFL this past spring. Both results are excellent recruiting tools that could return the Seminoles to the days of Bobby Bowden.
Fisher did however reportedly agree to a five-year extension of up to $4 million a season, a solid reward for a coach boasting a 44-10 record in his first gig at the helm of a major program. Texas would probably also have to wait until after the national title game before seriously negotiating any deal.
Staying in-state with all the local recruiting Texas has to offer, Briles might be the most logical solution for the Longhorns. His exciting offense placed Baylor atop the BCS standings for much of the season, and he lifted the program to the best season in its history.
Born and raised in Texas, Briles has also coached at every level in the state and has never left. Last month, he and the Bears agreed to an extension that runs until 2023 paying Briles upwards of $4 million per year.
While Briles has shown staunch loyalty throughout his career, the Longhorns were reportedly offering upwards of $100 million over 10 years and a piece of their cable network to Saban. Even a sliver of an offer that big would cause any coach in the country to do a double-take.