Chasin' The Devil: With Saban out, who's next as Longhorns coach
Jeremy Fowler wonders who's best equipped to be the next Longhorns coach?
Editor's note: This has been updated to reflect Nick Saban's extension with Alabama.
The chase was on, and Nick Saban got caught. When starting this 'Chasin' the Devil' series in the preseason, the expectation was clear: Who was best positioned to unseat Nick Saban?
The first list had FSU's Jimbo Fisher at No. 5. That was spot on. He's in great position.
Auburn's Gus Malzahn was nowhere near the honorable mention list. Now he's the prince of Alabama -- at least for a month or so.
Questions had persist about whether Saban would bolt for Texas -- a job that's not open. That's out the window now that Saban and Alabama have agreed on an extension.
Mack Brown is still the coach in Austin. But it's pretty clear a faction of UT's faithful want Brown out. Brown looks ready for a fight. He has Texas president Bill Powers on his side.
This will get ugly before it gets better.
Texas is the national story in college football, so it's worth asking: If Texas opens -- who's best equipped now that Saban is out of the running as Longhorns coach?
This list doesn't include NFL coaches. Maybe it's just me, but it seems doubtful Jim Harbaugh or Mike Tomlin would leave prime NFL jobs to coach in college. Sorry, Texas, but you're a downgrade from the 49ers.
Texas has its detractions. Think most coaches want to deal with the public mess that's unfolding right now?
Someone will. Texas' resources make the Longhorns' job one that every college coach must at least consider.
This is broken up into two categories, five coaches that are probably unattainable but deserve a phone call, and five coaches that could do surprisingly well at UT.
PROBABLY NOT, BUT…
Jimbo Fisher, Florida State
Devil rating: 9.5. Comment: This would be my first call after Saban. Terrific recruiter, could play the UT politics game, has a plan and has learned from the curious losses early in his career. Just got a raise to $4.25 million, but Texas can dwarf that. Would be hard to leave well-established FSU roster led by No. 5.
Urban Meyer, Ohio State
Devil rating: 9.0. Comment: If UT calls all the best coaches to gauge interest, might as well dial the 614 area code. Meyer's got it good at Ohio State. He can win big in a lesser league. OSU is nostalgic for him. Doubt he wants a new challenge two years into his Buckeyes tenure. But nothing surprises me anymore, so why not call?
David Shaw, Stanford
Devil rating: 8.0. Comment: Doubt Shaw is attainable. Dude oozes Stanford. He can win titles there. Doesn't seem the UT type. The way he gets teams prepared would acquit himself well in the Big 12. For as much as the Big 12 gets pegged as a pass-happy league, there are plenty of good running games in the conference. Shaw's power game would work well.
Bob Stoops, Oklahoma
Devil rating: 7.5. Comment: No chance. No chance at all, right? If Stoops ever wants a change, you'd think Florida would be the logical move. But no one embodies Big 12 football more than Stoops. He's worth a call.
Art Briles, Baylor
Devil rating: 7.0. Comment: Several factors make Briles a no-can-do at Texas. He just re-upped a contract and will open Baylor's new stadium in 2014 -- the place he basically built. He has a better team in Waco. He's comfortable. Texas rumors probably helped him secure the extension last month. Why turn that around and use that against Baylor?
THIS COULD WORK ...
Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
Devil rating: 6.5. Comment: Before he was a man or he was 40, Gundy was a good coach. Always has been. He's made Stillwater a destination for recruits, which isn't easy. That he flirted with Tennessee last year and had scheduling disagreements with AD Mike Holder might make UT wonder if he's amenable to change. Could be wrong here, but, again, worth a call.
Charlie Strong, Louisville
Devil rating: 6.0. Comment: Strong's buyout is $5 million if he leaves Louisville in 2013, but Texas can write that check. Strong could have jumped to Tennessee last year but didn't and he has an AD, Tom Jurich, who is willing to bid to keep Strong. He's in a good situation at Louisville. Doesn't mean he wouldn't kill it in Austin.
Bill O'Brien, Penn State
Devil rating: 5.5. Comment: O'Brien is still a bit of an unknown because he hasn't won big yet but is intriguing on many levels. He has grown as a sideline manager this year, he recruits well, he's good with quarterbacks, he trusts his instincts and he has the personality to compartmentalize the politics of the job (See: State, Penn).
Al Golden, Miami (Fla.)
Devil rating: 4.5. Comment: Golden is in a similar situation as O'Brien -- he inherited a mess and came out looking sunny. Golden seems a better fit for South Florida than Texas but he's known as adaptable. He'd be great on LHN.
James Franklin, Vanderbilt
Devil rating: 4.0. Comment: As far as energizing a fan base and deftly handling the UT culture, Franklin would do great. Can he win in a presser-cooker? At Vanderbilt, his eight- and nine-win seasons have been pleasant surprises. At UT, those seasons might get you fired.
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