Texas' 4-0 turnaround since starting the season 1-2 has cooled the Mack Brown-hot seat conversation.
It's still there, it's just on mute. In the meantime, the debate has shifted to whether the Longhorns can win a Big 12 title. UT is undefeated in conference and playing as well as it has in years.
But, eventually, Brown will leave Texas. It could be at the end of this season, it could be next season. It's a matter of when, especially with reports that a new athletic director—WVU's Oliver Luck—could be named as early as this month.
When that time comes, one name will come up early and often as Brown's successor: Baylor coach Art Briles. He already has the vote of one former coach, Oklahoma's Barry Switzer. Via the Daily Oklahoman, Switzer said Briles would be a "perfect fit" for the Longhorns:
“I don’t know about the people hiring at Texas,” Switzer said. “They’re kinda blue-bloods down there. Art Briles might be too country for them, but I’m gonna tell ya, he’s the perfect fit for those high-school coaches in Texas.
“Talk about recruiting. He’s one of them. High school coaches would love to help him at Texas. He’d make them like an Alabama.”
Why wouldn't Briles' name come up? He has the Bears undefeated and sitting at No. 6 in the latest BCS rankings with a chance at a national title. In the bigger picture, though, Briles has completely transformed what was a Big 12 doormat into the program that stands on that doormat and knocks.
Briles is regarded as one of the best recruiters in college football because he's embedded in Texas high schools and sent over a dozen Bears into the NFL. And he's accomplished it all in a matter of five-plus seasons in Waco.
That should catch the eye of any major program looking to fill its head coaching vacancy. If Texas' becomes available, the administrators in Austin should take a long, hard look at Briles.
If there's any concern about Briles' age (57), there shouldn't be. Texas should attempt to hire the best person available when the time comes and it's not like Briles is retiring tomorrow.
The question would be whether Briles would leave Baylor—as astounding as that may sound on the surface.
"I'm extremely happy here at Baylor," Briles said last month on 105.3 The Fan. "We've got a good thing going and I can't see myself anywhere else."
Coaches say things like that all the time, but consider what Baylor is literally and figuratively building. The university is investing heavily in football and a brand new stadium is projected to open in time for the start of the 2014 season. And even if Baylor is unable to financially match another offer for Briles, you can bet it will still do everything in its power to keep him.
The brand of Baylor football has also never been more visible, and the 4-star and 5-star high school talent is starting to roll in. To put it another way, how many people would trade Baylor's roster for Texas', now or in the immediate future?
While there's no way to know for sure if Briles would ever leave Baylor, he has, or will have, the resources necessary to win at the highest levels. So he's correct to say he has a good thing going.
Who knows, maybe he wants to keep it going a little while longer.
Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. All quotes obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenKercheval.
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