December 13, 2013

Mack Brown still bagged, but Nick Saban still not in #Longhorns bag? Les Miles? Nobody?

That's the way it looks, per the latest rumors, anonymously sourced stories, or "stories," and more.

ESPN's latest is that Mack Brown is still "embattled."
Embattled Texas coach Mack Brown met Friday with university president Bill Powers and athletic director Steve Patterson.

Patterson declined to say what was discussed or if any conclusion had been reached, but a source said Brown is now fighting to keep his job.

Brown had previously confided in those close to him that he was resigning, the source said. However, Brown was "enraged" when the news leaked to the media, and he decided to change course, according to the source.
This leads to one set of follow-up thoughts.

Whoever talked to Jesus Shuttlesworth and then Chip Brown may just have shot himself in the foot. Mack may be pissed enough not to leave. Now, Mack's contract buyout is reportedly only $2.75 million, so, in one sense, if Patterson wants to pull the trigger, it doesn't matter how pissed off Mack is — he's gone.

UPDATE: The "shooting in the foot" is especially true if the latest rumor is true — that Mack is staying.

But, the backfire could come in the Horns not landing Nick Saban, or even option No. 2.

I mean, other than purely for the money, how many coaches even want to think about entering into such a circus, a circus so bad that Jim Harbaugh of the NFL's 49ers was on the rumor list earlier this week? I'm sure Saban, even, is at least a bit wary of that.

Speaking of?

Saban's got a contract extension on his desk, something even bigger than the extension he got this spring. it's been there — and not back in his AD's hands — since Friday, Dec 6.

However ...

Saban now seems to have given an oral commitment to that new contract, it seems.
 "I'm not really at the stage of my career where I'm looking for some other big sort of challenge," Saban said in late October, though his attempt to quash the rumors of his departure ultimately proved unsuccessful. "We've got enough challenges right here to try to work with the players we recruited and try to continue to have a successful program for their personal, academic and athletic success."
On the other hand, this is college football; how often do coaches tell the truth in situations like this?

Bottom line in this situation is, the Horns handled the leak badly. True, Patterson's the new AD, but he's been on the job a month. His predecessor, DeLoss Dodds, could have given him some backup. That is, if Dodds knew the leaking was hitting a new level after he stepped down.

Bottom line No. 2 is that, until Saban signs that new contract, the rumors about him will continue. He knows that.

Bottom line No. 3 is that the official denouement WAS supposed to happen sometime after this Friday night and a Longhorn banquet. But, Mack at least was pissed enough not to discuss anything with players Friday. And, his No. 1 supporter, UT President Bill Powers, dodging his own bullet with the UT System and staying in power, Mack's probably got his back up even more.

If there was, a week ago, the possibility of an amiable departure, that's likely shot all to hell.

At the same time,  did the rumors that Mack had talked to USC about its opening, speaking of Orgeron, have a hand in AD Pattterson's thinking? He decided that, if Mack was looking more, he was pushing more?

Let's say that Patterson goes ahead, lets Mack know that his finger is still on the trigger, and the combination of that stick and some carrots take care of business.

What then?

Besides the ongoing bouts of rumors about Nick Saban leaving Alabama, who else might be tapped? Gary Patterson kind of tarnished his image at TCU this year. Art Briles ain't leaving Baylor. Even if he wanted to, his buyout on his brand-new contract is probably a lot more pricey than Mack's.

Let's throw out some other fun coaching candidates for Longhorn faithful, while we're at it, both fun and serious:

1. Mike Leach. Guns blazing, he'd last about 3 years in Austin. DKR Stadium WOULD be entertaining, though.

2. Mike Gundy. A more buttoned-down Leach. Not leaving Stillwater. And, given that he has a bit of a reputation for not winning the big one, probably not wanted in Austin.

3. Gary Pinkel. Now that could be serious, even though he denies any intent to leave Mizzou.

4. Kevin Sumlin? Highly doubtful. If he leaves Aggieland in the near term, it's only for the NFL. Besides, he strikes me as a bit green still for a position like this.

5. Will Muschamp? The one-time Mack Jr. will only get into Darrell Royal Stadium if he's coaching an opponent.

6. Bob Stoops. Some folks in Norman have a bit of disquiet about him, and it would sure spice up the rivalry. Not very likely, though.

7. James Franklin of Vanderbilt? Too small of a program to leap to Texas; dunno why he is being touted so much.

8. Mark Stoops? Would set up a brothers coaching rivalry, like the Harbaughs of the NFL, only a guaranteed game a year.

Assuming Saban ain't the man, to me, Pinkel would be the next target.

With one possible exception. One other man who could handle the nutbar cauldron of Austin and could be an under-the-radar candidate.

Les Miles.

Remember, you heard it here first.

National title winner, previous Big 12 experience, and can recruit in SEC territory.

His national title is newer than Brown's. Both of his BCS title appearances are newer.


Mark Schlabach of ESPN says, if you can't get Saban, why not stay with Mack? He offers cautionary tales, like Phil Fulmer at Tennessee and Larry Coker at Miami.

Problem is that Mack's recruiting problems have been multiyear. And,  nobody's ever considered him an X's and O's coach on the same level as a Saban, or possibly even as a Miles.

Related to both points A and B in the paragraph above is that Brown's had four straight years of eight or fewer regular-season wins.

As for this year in particular? Mack got lucky against Oklahoma. Got referee-lucky against Iowa State. And got thumped by the two top teams in the conference, Baylor and Ok State. Nothing about his current recruiting indicates there will be a big difference next year.

And, Schlabach's other arguments are plain stupid.

First, on the "watch out"? The Sooners had to sort through multiple less-than-par replacements for Barry Switzer before they got Bob Stoops. For that matter, the Horns had a long gap between Royal and Brown.

Which leads to the second point. How many national titles did Brown have before coming to Austin?

Gee, Mark, guess he never should have been hired.

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