University of Texas officials are still strongly considering Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher and Louisville’s Charlie Strong in the head football coach search, but they haven’t completely given up on the idea of luring Alabama’s Nick Saban to Austin, the American-Statesman has learned.
Some key Texas power brokers are still enchanted with the thought of landing Saban, which would be viewed as a blockbuster hire. Texas officials can at least make a strong push now that Alabama’s season is over after losing to Oklahoma in Thursday’s Sugar Bowl.
Still, when asked about the possibility of reeling in Saban, a high-ranking Texas official said, “I would bet a small house against that.” Two other names to bet against: Baylor’s Art Briles and UCLA’s Jim Mora, who had been at or near the top of recent speculation and reports but took themselves out of the conversation on Friday.
Briles, who pulled his name from consideration via Twitter and an official statement, did not have a formal interview with Texas men’s athletic director Steve Patterson, two sources with knowledge of the process — one from Texas, the other from Baylor — told the American-Statesman.
It’s unclear whether Patterson didn’t want Briles or perhaps lost interest after Baylor’s 52-42 loss to Central Florida in Wednesday’s Fiesta Bowl.
“I have no desire to pursue other coaching positions,” Briles said. “As I’ve said many times, I am both humbled and honored to be the head coach at Baylor University, and believe we have something special going here.” Briles also tweeted, “Contrary to reports and rumors I am a Baylor Bear — 2013 Big 12 Champs.” Mora’s name moved to the forefront this week for less than 24 hours, but it doesn’t appear that he was ever seriously considered. The Los Angeles Times reported Friday that Texas officials had made contact with Mora’s agent, but that the coach had no real interest.
“It is always flattering when someone is interested in you,” Mora said. “But I am committed to being the UCLA coach.” Mora is represented by Jimmy Sexton, the same high-profile agent who represents Saban, Fisher and a host of other top coaches who have been connected to the Texas search, including Auburn’s Gus Malzahn. Sexton’s presence alone might be complicating matters; Patterson is known as an administrator who wants to deal directly with his coaches, not go through some intermediary.
Two sources connected to Louisville’s Strong said they have not heard anything from Texas officials in recent days. The American-Statesman has reported that Strong and Patterson met for four hours in Louisville and that Patterson told the coach he would interview others.
Patterson might not be able to wait around if he wants Strong. Reports surfaced Friday that linked Miami coach Al Golden and Vanderbilt’s James Franklin to the now-vacant Penn State job. If Golden leaves, it’s believed Miami would go after Strong, considering his deep Florida ties.
Patterson could not be reached for comment Friday. The American-Statesman has reported that he is spearheading the search and keeping many UT power brokers in the dark, including several of those on the eight-person search committee.
One UT source speculated Friday that if Patterson favors Fisher, the search would go into next week. If it’s someone else, the search could be wrapped up this weekend, giving Patterson the chance to grab some headlines leading up to Monday’s national championship game.