Next Texas Longhorns Head Coach Props Odds and Betting Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 12/18/2013
I would agree that in many ways Texas is the best head coaching job in college sports but also the worst. And, of course, now it's open with Mack Brown resigning/getting pushed out last week.
I do find it rather humorous how self-important Texas is being in all this mess. It's like the Horns fans and boosters feel they "deserve" any coach they want. There are some terrific reasons to take the job. Obviously, football is king, queen and the rest of the royal family in Texas. The high school talent might be the best in the country. Texas literally prints money from its athletic department and can pay a coach and his assistants more than any other school -- and more than many NFL teams would be willing to. A new coach will have all the resources he needs to win, and he will be given a year or two before expectations are sky high with the Horns being mediocre the past few years under Brown.
That passion for football in the Lone Star State also is a detriment because expectations are almost unrealistic. You also really need to be more of a CEO than a coach -- which Brown definitely was -- because you have to deal with boosters and especially the grind of filling air time on the Longhorn Network. For example, Nick Saban films one TV show a week for Alabama, and he does it in about 18 minutes right after a game. Brown was on several shows and allowed unlimited access to his program. Saban would never do that as he is way too controlling. Finally, there's a lot of politics going on at Texas right now; there was a power struggle to get the sitting president forced out by current governor Rick Perry. He has helped fill the UT Board of Regents with his cronies, and Scott is a Texas A&M graduate and huge fan. He doesn't like UT.
New Texas AD Steve Patterson has pretty high qualifications it seems for the job, his first big hire. Think a coach who has won a national title or a Super Bowl. Being rather folksy (which Brown also was) would also help, because a coach will need to be able to network all across the vast state. Getting the approval of all those Texas high school coaches is crucial in landing their players. The good news is most of them dream of playing in the burnt and orange, although A&M has closed the gap with its move to the SEC and the rise in profile under Johnny Manziel.
Certainly a coach will be hired at least a few weeks before National Signing Day on Feb. 5. However, I'm not sure it will happen much before Jan. 15. Why? Dec. 16-Jan. 15 is a recruiting dead period, so it's not essential a coach be in place right this minute. Obviously, by that Jan. 15 date it would be important. The problem for Patterson is that he's aiming so high that his candidates all seem tied up in bowl games or the NFL season.
Here is Bovada's list of candidates and my thoughts. Most of these guys have big new contracts, but Texas can buy out anyone's deal.
Charlie Strong (2/1): The current Louisville coach got a big new raise last season after Tennessee came calling. Were Louisville not on the way to the ACC next season, I could definitely see Strong leaving. Strong already reportedly has said he has no interest in the job. He does have ties to the region as an Arkansas native. But I think Strong stays at U of L, perhaps waiting to see if the Florida job opens after next season. He was the D-coordinator there before Louisville hired him.
James Franklin (4/1): This is the one of two guys on this list whom I believe would jump to take the UT job. Franklin has performed a minor miracle at Vanderbilt, but the Commodores have pretty much reached their ceiling, which is reaching a mid-level bowl. Franklin was recently asked about the UT job and didn't exactly deny interest.
Art Briles (9/2): This would be a home run because Briles is 100 percent Texas and has turned Baylor -- Baylor! -- into a superior program and one of the most exciting and "hip" teams in the country. Briles, a former high school coach in Texas, already has a network in place. However, he did just get a 10-year extension, and Baylor opens a new stadium next season. It would look odd if he left now. UT might want someone a bit younger as well as Briles is 58.
Mike Gundy (6/1): This is the other guy I think would take the job in a second as Gundy nearly left last year for Tennessee. Oklahoma State's roster is about 75 percent players from Texas, and he's turned the Cowboys into a stellar program. Gundy knows that perhaps the money flow from mega-booster T. Boone Pickens won't last forever. However, he can't beat Oklahoma, and that's a must at UT.
Jimbo Fisher (9/1): If you can't get Saban -- and Texas can't -- then this is the closest thing to a Saban clone. He's one of the nation's top recruiters. Why leave Florida State now? The Noles should win the national title this year and will be a favorite next with Jameis Winston back. Fisher also just got a big extension in December.
Bill O'Brien (10/1): He's worked miracles at Penn State but has a buyout that even Texas might flinch at. O'Brien seems more of an NFL guy and reportedly already Houston and Minnesota have inquired about him for next season.
Jim Mora Jr. (10/1): He's already in a talent-rich area with UCLA, although the Bruins are probably always going to be second-fiddle in the city to USC. Mora was Washington's first choice before he decided to stay in Westwood and get a big new deal.
David Shaw (12/1): He has improved upon what Jim Harbaugh started at Stanford. That Shaw is doing this at a tremendous academic school has to be very appealing to Texas, another school that prides itself on academics. However, reports are Shaw has said he's staying put. He's probably another NFL guy in a year or two.
Chip Kelly (14/1): This would be a grand slam. You can't question Kelly's resume in college, and he has the Eagles on the verge of winning the NFC East. However, he also has a show-cause penalty from the NCAA through the end of 2014 for some rule-breaking at Oregon.
Jim Harbaugh (25/1): Why leave one of the five-best current NFL jobs for the grind of having to recruit 18-year-old kids? Yes, Harbaugh hasn't signed an extension with the Niners yet, but that team can win a Super Bowl this year or perhaps the next couple. No way he leaves that opportunity.
Mike Tomlin (25/1): No job is more secure than with the Steelers, who simply don't fire coaches. Tomlin won't be a candidate.
It could well be someone not on this list. I'm sure the agents for Urban Meyer, Les Miles, Gus Malzahn, Kevin Sumlin, Pete Carroll and Jon Gruden, to name a few, will get calls. I would probably lean toward Gundy among these prop options, because he knows the Big 12 and won't hesitate to leave Stillwater. Gundy wouldn't be a home run in my opinion but a solid triple.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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