As things stand on Wednesday morning, here are the five candidates most likely to be the next Texas head coach:
5. Les Miles, LSU Head Coach
Miles is someone Texas holds in high regard, but they'll see if one of their reach candidates pans out before they start making overtures to the LSU head coach. We'd consider Miles to be one of the first names on the second tier of the Texas wishlist, after real reaches (John Harbaugh, Nick Saban) and right up there with the elite college HCs (Jimbo Fisher, David Shaw).
4. Jon Gruden, currently with ESPN
From the owner of OrangeBloods.com this morning:
OB$ A source with knowledge of the situation has confirmed that Jon Gruden is interested in the vacant Texas HC job http://t.co/xTgcqKJtGO
— Geoff Ketchum (@gkketch) December 18, 2013
No contact between Texas and Jon Gruden has taken place at this time. Source merely mentioned interest level fro Gruden was legit. — Geoff Ketchum (@gkketch) December 18, 2013
Gruden's interest immediately vaults him into contention. This is a very recent development, and we'll keep you posted on Gruden's situation as this develops.
3. Gus Malzahn, Auburn Head Coach
Malzahn is backtracking after calling Texas his "dream job" earlier in the year, but the damage is done and his recent comments don't change the fact that he's a top candidate in Austin. There won't be any definitive movement on Malzahn until after the BCS Title game, for obvious PR reasons.
2. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State Head Coach
Fisher is willing to listen to offers, but like Malzahn, he's in a delicate situation because nothing can come out before the Seminoles play Auburn for the national championship. If he treads carefully and Texas is patient enough to wait, he's very close to the top of the list.
1. Art Briles, Baylor Head Coach
Briles may not have Gruden's NFL resume, and his team isn't in the National Title game like Fisher's or Malzahn's, but he does have the finest offensive mind in college football. Texas is enamored with Briles' tactical skills and talent evaluation, and they're very interested to see what he'd do with virtually unlimited resources if given the chance.
Wild Card Until Further Notice: Nick Saban, Alabama Head Coach
Until Texas hires a head coach that is definitively not Nick Saban, he'll continue to be a wild card in this race. Saban's WWE-style return from the dead yesterday understandably raised some eyebrows, but we're confident in our sources and fascinated to see how this plays out. Stay tuned.