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Senior College Football Columnist

Mailbag: Sizing up the Texas search; ND's offense with Golson back

Art Briles might be the best guy for the Texas job. (USATSI)
Art Briles might be the best guy for the Texas job. (USATSI)

Here is the Friday Mailbag. As always, you can send questions via Twitter to @BFeldmanCBS.

From @KdennyTodd: how long does UT entertain the gruden notion & true they are looking at PAC12 for coach? totally different style of play

Not sure. Jon Gruden is the white whale of coaching searches. As I wrote last Saturday, one source told me Gruden is "the greatest tire-kicker in the history of coaching." Does hearing back-channel chatter that Gruden might like to live in Austin add to driving rumors (as opposed to having no interest in living in LA in regards to the USC vacancy)? Who knows?

Texas is going to have some good options. I'll stick by the names I thought could be in consideration that I had last week. One name I've seen mentioned some other places, Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy, is interesting, but knowing what his record (1-8) is against the Horns' arch-rival, Oklahoma, had me thinking he wouldn't seem like a fit for Texas.

As for your Pac-12 coach question, the two guys with those connections I figure could be in play: UCLA's Jim Mora and ex-Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh are so opposite of the perception of Pac-12 football that I think they'd seem intriguing to UT brass. Both coaches took over programs with reps for being soft and underachieving (like UT's rep to some degree these days) and each brought radical change and produced tougher, more physical programs.

From @runningman325: realistic candidates for Texas job is there more of a better fit than Larry Fedora? Texas native, spread offense, recruiter etc

Fedora's a really good coach. Look at how awful Southern Miss has been since he left. His UNC team is 6-6 in his second season there and my hunch is he's pretty far off the radar at UT right now.

I don't think a guy needs to be a Texas native to be the coach at the University of Texas. By the criteria you listed above, Art Briles would seem like the best fit out there, and he might be, but it seems like in some corners being a true TEXAN and being the kind of guy the University of Texas brass wants as its head coach aren't necessarily in line.

From @LesLukach: How will the return of Golson impact ND's running game and will the Irish ever land elite DL talent again?

It'll be interesting to see what Brian Kelly does in regards to his OC vacancy. He's a "spread" guy so I'd expect some version of that. Having spent some time around Everett Golson this fall down in San Diego, I can attest to his physical development (he's packed on almost 20 pounds of bulk) while refining his mechanics (laces now!). The ability not just to extend plays, but also be a factor in the running game as a threat will put defenses more on their heels and that should provide quite a jolt to the Fighting Irish RBs. And that's been sorely needed.

I spoke to two rival defensive coaches who thought the ND O-line was one of the best fronts they faced all season, but both of those coaches said the Fighting Irish backs were very average. ND is No. 81 in rushing and had just 10 rushing TDs. Their yards per carry average is more respectable at 4.51 ypc but that's still not in the top 50 of FBS. In 2012, the Irish ranked No. 38 in rushing and averaged 4.87 yards per carry and had 23 rushing TDs.

As for ever landing elite D-line talent again, keep in mind the ND that Louis Nix, Stephon Tuitt committed to hadn't been within a sniff of a national title in years. Brian Kelly has an easier job selling blue-chip kids now than ND did a few years ago.

Andrew Trumbetti and Jay Hayes, a pair of guys from the Northeast, are both four-star D-line recruits committed to ND. Texan Grant Blankenship, a DE, and Californian Matt Dickerson, a DT, also are four-star commits as ranked by 247 Sports.

From @burrdoop: Is there a reason that OSU's OC, Tom Herman, has not been linked with more HC jobs?

This winter there has been an unusually small window of coaching changes, meaning less opportunities. There are some vacancies (Bowling Green, EMU, Wyoming and Arkansas State) that a guy like Herman isn't going to jump for. If, say, Virginia came open, I'd think Herman would've been in the mix. At 38, he's a rising star in the football coaching world. He's also benefitting from working under Urban Meyer and growing as a coach in ways beyond the Xs and Os. Another season at OSU, with Meyer, probably only helps him that much more.

Herman's in a great spot. He's well-respected by coaches all over the country, not just for his ability to scheme and game-plan, but also for his personality. He helped trigger an offense that was No. 4 in the nation in scoring this season. Keep in mind the year before Herman took over the OC/play-calling job in Columbus, OSU was No. 81 in scoring. And, assuming Braxton Miller returns for another season, I'd expect the Buckeyes again to be a top-five caliber team.

Since this was a slow year for coaching turnover, expect next winter to have a lot of activity and I suspect Herman is going to have some better options.

From @frwlove23: what are you hearing on UF's OC search?

The two names I've heard the most from sources are USC OC Clay Helton and Texas OC Major Applewhite, who was on the same UT staff as Will Muschamp from 2008-2010. Scheme-wise Helton's pro-style background meshes with what Muschamp prefers, but whoever Florida hires as its new OC and O-line coach must develop Jeff Driskel and an OL that sorely lacked depth in 2013.

After USC's blowout win over Fresno State Saturday there were several reports from LA media that Helton would be retained by new USC coach Steve Sarkisian. I'm told that could mean as a tight ends coach although some have reported that it would be as the Trojans OC. Right now, that all still seems to be up in the air. Would Helton opt to remain at USC as a position coach rather than be the OC/play-caller at UF, if offered? Not sure about that.

From @jbizzle_3: What are your thoughts on Boise States coaching hires?

It's almost impossible to find a guy who has the savvy and the track record of Chris Petersen, but in Bryan Harsin you have a Petersen disciple. Harsin also now has some head coaching experience as well as some outside experience from his time in the University of Texas fishbowl. We'll see how well the 37-year-old Harsin grows into the position.

I do like some of the staffing moves Harsin made. In new DC Marcel Yates, he brings back a guy who spent a decade with Boise and was one of their best recruiters, plucking talent out of his native Southern California. Yates had been working the past two seasons at Texas A&M as a co-defensive coordinator. The Aggies were really shaky on D in 2013 but they were undermanned and very inexperienced and Yates didn't run the defense but having been around him and that staff I know he's highly regarded as a coach by the folks inside that program. I also like the move of bringing former Boise QB Mike Sanford back. He was Stanford's QB coach and now gets a shot as the Broncos OC. He'll help Harsin scheme-wise and also is a terrific recruiter.

From @SHigginsToronto: Are there still too many bowls? What would be ideal number of bowl games??

No, I don't think there are too many bowl games. As long as a FBS team doesn't have a losing record I'm fine by them making a bowl game. I'll watch Tuesday night MAC football and Friday night MWC football so I'm up for any December football, especially knowing that in three weeks, we'll have no more college football to watch.

Cynics can say most of these bowls don't matter or nobody cares, but for a lot of people in and around some of these programs, they definitely care. The first game of bowl season, the New Mexico Bowl pits one team, Washington State, which actually opened the season on the road and almost beat one of the teams in the FBS title game (Auburn) and is going to its first bowl game in 10 years while its opponent, Colorado State, hasn't been to a bowl since 2008. To me, if you think there are too many bowl games, just don't watch them.

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