The Usual Suspects: Who Will Be Texas’ Next Football Coach?


"I think the key is setting the criteria, getting some clarity around that, then moving as expeditiously as we can to hire the best football coach we can." - Steve Patterson, UT Athletic Director

Even before Mack Brown tendered his resignation, rumors swirled for months about who would replace Brown once the legendary coach left. Now that Nick Saban is out of the picture, a rumor we’re still unsure was ever true, we’re left to wonder who Steve Patterson and Bill Powers will target for the vacant post.

We’re also left to wonder when this replacement will be named. Brown will coach Texas in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 30, and the recruiting dead period lasts until Jan. 15 of next year, so a replacement might come later rather than sooner.

It’s important to keep the noise at bay during this time. Much like this past week, the media can become frenzied to a point of tabloid sensationalism. Everybody knows somebody who knows somebody who thinks they know something. Suddenly, such nameless sources become Nostradamus and we’re left shocked when their revelations don’t come true. With that being said, here are the coaches, without any anonymous dictation, who we feel Texas is likely to target.

(NOTE: Most of these candidates are currently under contract. However, this does not mean Texas should abandon any thought of hiring them. Buyouts do exist, and, if Red McCombs speaks the truth, money is no object when it comes to getting the right guy.)


coach2Art Briles, Baylor. The Baylor head coach has taken a bottom-of-the-barrel Big 12 team and made them national title contenders. He’s already well known in the high-school football capital of the world (Texas) and could bring five star recruits who were considering Baylor to Texas. He’s also one of the great offensive minds in the country and will bring an exciting, efficient, high-octane offense that is sure to fill the seats at DKR.

What Could Keep Him From Coming? Briles recently signed a 10-year extension at Baylor, making a buyout all the more unlikely.

HC Experience Record as HC W% as HC BCS Bowl Appearances Current Contract
4 yrs @ Houston5 yrs @ Baylor 78-59 .569 1 Through 2023


coach4Jimbo Fisher, Florida State. Fisher has turned Florida State around and, by extension, made the ACC relevant again. Florida State is 26-1 over their last two seasons with two different starting quarterbacks and are playing in the final BCS National Championship game next month. Fisher’s ability to identify talent in recruits and develop them in his system is astounding (Jameis Winston, anyone?). There’s no doubt Fisher is on the Horns’ radar and would be a coup if they could snatch him from the Seminoles.

What Could Keep Him From Coming? You mean other than the fact that he’s coaching a team in the national championship and is supposedly really happy at one of the best programs in college football, Florida State? Well, he was just offered a contract extension.

HC Experience Record as HC W% as HC BCS Bowl Appearances Current Contract
3 yrs @ Florida St. 44-10 .815 2 Through 2018


coach 5James Franklin, Vanderbilt. The youthful coach of Vanderbilt will bring energy and charisma to the Longhorns’ sideline. He also has Vanderbilt, yes Vanderbilt, playing extremely well in the always-tough SEC. He’s done this with great recruiting and player development. Franklin would receive more consideration if not for the ongoing rape case against four of his football players.

What Could Keep Him From Coming? He’s had success at Vanderbilt, but not the enormous success the Longhorns surely covet. He’s also very young (41) and might not be ready for such a jump.

HC Experience Record as HC W% as HC BCS Bowl Appearances Current Contract
3 yrs @ Vanderbilt 23-15 .605 0 N/A, but it’s reportedly a substantial contract


coach1Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State. He has the great record at Oklahoma State, the recruiting prowess, the offensive mind, the consistency, and the accent to make Texas fans fall for him. He’s a tough-as-nails Big 12 guy who will bring big name recruits to Texas (he was able to do this in Stillwater, so there are no doubts he can repeat this in Austin) and demand great effort from his players.

What Could Keep Him From Coming? Oklahoma State is his alma mater and it could be difficult for him to say “good bye” to a program he built from the ground up. Also, UT fans seem to have a particular distaste for Gundy. Other than that, he’s probably one of the more plausible candidates.

HC Experience Record as HC W% as HC BCS Bowl Appearances Current Contract
9 years @ OK State 77-37 .675 1 Through 2015


JON GRUDENJon Gruden. The former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach recently expressed interest in the Longhorns’ coaching vacancy. Gruden coached the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl victory in 2003, but hasn’t held a coaching position in five years. Instead, he’s been occupying his time as an NFL analyst on ESPN.

What Could Keep Him From Coming? He doesn’t have any experience as a college football head coach. According to AD Patterson, that would exclude Gruden from the conversation.

HC Experience Record as HC W% as HC BCS Bowl Appearances Current Contract
3 yrs @ Oakland Raiders6 yrs @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers 77-37 .675 N/ASuper Bowl Championship in 2003 None


coach7Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers. The former Stanford and now 49ers coach has been successful as a player and coach in all levels of football. At Stanford, Harbaugh gave Stanford their first 12-win season, going 12-1 and winning the Orange Bowl in 2010. Harbaugh has a great deal of success on his resume and has special eye for talent.

What Could Keep Him From Coming? Coaches who have been successful in the NFL do not return to coach college football. Also, he’s said that he has zero interest in the Texas job, which sounds pretty firm. (UPDATE: New reports say Harbaugh will sign a new, multiyear extension with the 49ers.)

HC Experience Record as HC W% as HC BCS Bowl Appearances Current Contract
3 yrs @ San Diego4 yrs @ Stanford3 yrs @ San Francisco 49ers 29-21 @ Stanford35-13 @ San Francisco .653 1 Currently negotiating new contract with San Francisco


coach8Gus Malzahn, Auburn. In his first season at Auburn, Malzahn has taken a program that seemed to suffer from a bad Cam Newton hangover, to the BCS National Championship game. He also seems to have  a knack for coaching teams for just one year, doing the same at Arkansas State before being hired by the Tigers.

What Could Keep Him From Coming? Despite his early success, he’s only coached at the college level for seven years. This lack of experience might not pique the Longhorns’ interest. He also signed a substantial contract extension last month.

HC Experience Record as HC W% as HC BCS Bowl Appearances Current Contract
1 yr @ Arkansas State1 yr @ Auburn 21-4 .840 1 Just signed contract extension through 2019


coach9Urban Meyer, Ohio State. After Nick Saban, probably the biggest name in college football. Meyer led the Florida Gators to two National Championships and was one win away from getting Ohio State in the BCS National Championship game this year. Meyer is also one of the best, most tireless, recruiters in college football. Something any football program would love to have.

What Could Keep Him From Coming? He’s only in his second year coaching Ohio State, his alma mater. It will likely take a lot to pry him away.

HC Experience Record as HC W% as HC BCS Bowl Appearances Current Contract
2 yrs @ Bowling Green2 yrs @ Utah6 yrs @ Florida2 yrs @ Ohio State 128-24 .842 3 Through 2018


coach10David Shaw, Stanford. Shaw has had just as much success as his predecessor, Jim Harbaugh, and done so without a surefire No. 1 pick in Andrew Luck. He has a 34-6 record at Stanford and is taking them to their second Rose Bowl appearance in three years. Before entering the collegiate level, he was a quarterbacks and wide receivers coach for NFL teams Baltimore Ravens and Oakland Raiders.

What Could Keep Him From Coming? ESPN recently reported that Shaw will stay at Stanford, his alma mater. Though it’s tough to know what to believe these days, I would place Shaw in the “unlikely” category.

HC Experience Record as HC W% as HC BCS Bowl Appearances Current Contract
3 yrs @ Stanford 34-6 .850 2 N/A but the contract is reportedly substantial


coach3Charlie Strong, Louisville. Another coach who took a middling team to national prominence. Louisville has gone 22-3 over the last two years and upset Strong’s former team, Florida, in the Sugar Bowl last year. Louisville is a very underrated team that plays well on both sides of the ball, yet it’s Strong’s history as a defensive coordinator and his tenure at Florida that makes him an appealing choice.

What Could Keep Him From Coming? He really likes Louisville and, according to Pat Dooley, has no interest in coming to Texas. That’s a pretty definite answer, and it will likely force Texas to look elsewhere.

HC Experience Record as HC W% as HC BCS Bowl Appearances Current Contract
4 yrs @ Louisville 36-16 .692 1 Through 2018


Who would you like to see as the next head coach at Texas? Sound off below! 


Brian Kendall

Part-time journalist turned full-time blogger, Brian is an online staff writer at Horns Illustrated and serves as senior staff writer for digital marketing agency Speak Social. Brian currently resides in Austin and you can read his blog at the following address: