By Ed McGranahan.
By Ed McGranahan
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — As lumbering as the college carousel has been this season, the NFL’s leaped off the line like a fuel-injected funny car, and the dash to the finish line might create a drafting effect that drags at least a few college jobs into the drama.
Mack Brown coached his last game at Texas Monday night, and athletic director Steve Patterson said he hoped to have a new coach in place by Jan. 15, leading to speculation that the men he targeted aren’t done coaching this season and that would make sense if those listed in the Texas newspapers are accurate – Art Briles, Jimbo Fisher, James Franklin and Charlie Strong.
Let’s take these in reverse order.
Long admired for his acumen as a defensive coach, Strong has looked like a freakin’ genius with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Not quite like Malzahn and Chizik with Newton, but you get the drift. Willing to bet he’s better after Bridgewater than Chizik after Cam. If coaching was the only prerequisite, Strong might be a good choice though not the best because Texas has requirements for larger than life personalities.
Penn State coach Bill O’Brien, mentioned early as a potential Longhorn candidate, may land in Texas anyway but not in Austin. The Houston Texans are reportedly close, so it’s going to come down to how deep his allegiance is to putting a spit sine to his alma mater’s reputation. Should he leave for the NFL, the initial speculation is that Franklin would be Penn State’s first choice. That might be a marriage made in heaven for a native Pennsylvanian and a guy who a couple of years ago was willing to become the Maryland coach-in-waiting behind Ralph Friedgen.
By the way, imagine how different things might be if those all worked.
Will Muschamp would be the next Texas coach without this drama. Franklin, not Randy Edsall, would be taking the Terps to the Big Ten, and Maryland fans wouldn’t be wondering what happened.
Fisher would still be playing for a national championship because he looks like a genius because Jameis Winston’s coach couldn’t persuade Mack Brown to return his phone calls.
But we digress.
Jimbo is a hot commodity and not likely to cool after the ’Noles beat Auburn, but the guess here is that he remains in Tallahassee. A new contract announced the week of the ACC Championship game made him the highest paid football coach in the ACC at a little over $4 million annually.
Stories this week in the ESPN magazine indicate what he and Winston have done for the school, community and state economics are over the top. FSU would probably force Texas to throw $8-10 million at him.
Fisher isn’t about the money. Remember, he was forced out of the UAB job by the Alabama Board of Regents as a safety net if Nick Saban didn’t leave Miami. When Saban asked him to be the Tide offensive coordinator he politely declined and signed with Papa Bowden.
Fisher seems to be a more pragmatic guy, and he’s shown in a couple seasons that Google maps aren’t required to find the route to glory. The ACC has a lot fewer potholes and tree stumps than the SEC, Big 12 or even Big 10, and the odds further improve next year.
Any way, don’t be stunned if some NFL team tanks the 2014 season, hires Fisher and drafts Winston, much like the Lakers did 60 years ago when they hired Fred Schaus then landed Jerry West.
If you’re not counting that’s the third reference to West Virginia sports legends. Here comes No. 4.
If Saban isn’t the wildcard, then don’t be surprised if Briles moves to Austin, even though he signed a new contract at Baylor. One Texas reporter said he was told by two independent sources that Briles would take the job if offered. His body language this week hasn’t been revealing, but this guy came out of the Texas high school ranks and it would be a huge story.
Should he move to Austin, keep this in mind as your anticipation of Friday’s game with Ohio State approaches.
Chad Morris replaced Briles once before, at Stephenville High School. In Texas.
Why not now?