The Texas Coaching Wishlist

Tier I: Game Changers

Nick Saban, Alabama Head Coach

We reported yesterday that Saban is still in the running despite his contract extension. As long as Texas thinks he's still in play, they'll move heaven and earth to bring him to Austin.

John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens Head Coach

Harbaugh's NFL success makes him an alluring target, and he's reportedly open to moving to the college level once he feels his work is done in the NFL.

The Ravens' current playoff run complicates matters, as Harbaugh won't even talk to Texas representatives until Baltimore's season is over.

Urban Meyer, Ohio State Head Coach

Meyer is the most highly regarded college coach who isn't Nick Saban, and his consistency and success makes him a top target for Texas. Ohio State won't let him go easily, and having only spent two seasons in Columbus, he'll take some convincing.

Jon Gruden, ESPN Analyst, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach

Gruden's name entered the race Wednesday morning when reports surfaced that he was interested in the job. Texas has yet to reach out to Gruden, but it's only a matter of time.

Mike McCarthy/Mike Tomlin/Jim Harbaugh/Sean Payton

Texas would love any of these four NFL guys, but none are remotely realistic at this point in time. Tomlin and McCarthy have both officially declined already, and Harbaugh and Payton are both completely focused on the playoffs.

Tier II: They'll Get the Job Done

Les Miles, LSU Head Coach

Since arriving at LSU in 2005, the Mad Hatter has built a consistently successful program in the nation's most loaded conference. With a national title in 2007 and another appearance in 2011, if no one in Tier I pans out, Miles will definitely be getting a call.

Jimbo Fisher, Florida State Head Coach

Fisher's stock is on the rise with the Seminoles in the National Title game and Jameis Winston winning the Heisman Trophy. After Mack Brown wouldn't even return Winston's calls, Texas will want someone able to effectively evaluate talent.

Art Briles, Baylor Head Coach

An offensive wizard with Texas roots, Briles earned a lot of respect in Austin by turning Baylor into a real force in the Big 12. With Robert Griffin III and now Bryce Petty, Briles has shown he can effectively evaluate and recruit QB's, something Texas has somehow been unable to do despite massive recruiting advantages.

Gus Malzahn, Auburn Head Coach

Malzahn has led a charmed life at Auburn so far, turning a 3-9 squad into a national championship contender in just one year.

He also labeled Texas as his dream job earlier this season, so there's definite mutual interest here.

David Shaw, Stanford Head Coach

Shaw is a proven winner who's succeeded at Stanford despite the academic restrictions that program has to work with. Texas has a lot of respect for Shaw, but he's unlikely to leave his alma mater this year.

Tier III: We'll take it

Charlie Strong, Louisville Head Coach

Louisville's Strong has a ton of potential, and he's seen as a real up-and-comer on the coaching scene. Texas is looking for a more established name, but Strong is on their radar.

Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State Head Coach

Things at OSU are getting a little tense between Gundy and the administration, and Texas fans wouldn't mind seeing him move south. Gundy is a possibility, but at the moment, nothing more.

James Franklin, Vanderbilt Head Coach

Franklin took over a 2-10 Vanderbilt team and instantly made them competitive in the SEC, which no one saw coming. With the Commodores en route to their third bowl game in three years (after going to just four in the entire history of the program before Franklin came to town), Franklin is getting a lot of deserved attention from major programs. While he isn't at the top of the list for Texas, they're monitoring him closely.

Kirby Smart, Alabama Defensive Coordinator

Smart would be a gamble, just like anyone else without previous head coaching experience. Still, the Longhorns (and every other major program) rate him highly, and if Texas really has missed the boat on Saban, Smart would be a nice consolation prize.

Tier IV: Riot in the streets

Greg Robinson, Texas Defensive Coordinator

Robinson did a fine job after taking over for Manny Diaz, but there's a reason you didn't see any Longhorns fans clamoring for Robinson when Mack Brown announced his resignation. Still, highly-placed sources tell us Robinson is a safety candidate who could take over in an interim capacity with someone else on staff as the coach-in-waiting. With so many better options out there, don't hold your breath.

Will Muschamp, Florida Head Coach

Speaking of former coaches-in-waiting, it wasn't long ago that Muschamp was, for all intents and purposes, the next Texas head coach.

Then Mack Brown didn't want to retire (sound familiar?), Florida came calling, and the rest is history.

Muschamp's stock has plunged since the move, and although Florida's injury disaster isn't his fault, the Gators' recent struggles have cast doubt on his ability to lead a major program.

Getting Muschamp after Saban was so close would be like showing up at a steakhouse to find out the only thing left in the kitchen is a Big Mac.



Additional Reading

Exclusive: Why Texas Was So Sure They'd Get Nick Saban

How Awful QB Recruiting Led to Mack Brown's Downfall At Texas

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