Give Mack Brown credit. Without his starting quarterback and with a handful of key injuries throughout the year, he had Texas within 30 minutes of a BCS bowl. It wasn’t always easy on the eyes, but the season never truly got away.
With that worthy disclaimer on the table, Texas will likely look long and hard at making a change at head coach. If it does decide to go this route—and a change seems both likely and appropriate—it may not have to search far and wide to find the ideal replacement.
No, not Nick Saban. Let’s stop this, please. Jon Gruden? Again, let's not. But landing current conference foe Mike Gundy is possible, and he should be the name at the top of the (realistic) wish list.
Interestingly enough, it was Oklahoma State’s loss to Oklahoma earlier in the day that created a Big 12 championship game of sorts. Texas and Baylor competed with a BCS bowl bid on the line, and the Longhorns battled early.
Offensively, they never truly got it going. Despite having ample success on the ground, Texas called far too many passes. As the offense struggled to sustain drives, however, the defense limited the potent Baylor offense to just three points at halftime.
The second half featured more scoring, actual touchdowns and more points in Baylor’s favor. Although Texas never truly gained control in the second half, the game never quite felt out of reach until the bleeding moments.
Baylor seemingly put it in neutral following a few touchdowns, and the 30-10 final score was indicative of the game. Not a blowout, not embarrassing, just a loss in a game that could have made the decision over Brown’s future slightly more intriguing with a different outcome. In a lot of ways, this game was synonymous with Brown’s recent run.
It hasn’t been the train wreck many have built it to be, but the overall product is simply lacking given the expectations and resources within the program.
Good simply isn’t good enough.
Following the game, Brown was asked about his future. His response, or lack thereof, wasn't surprising. Perhaps it was expected.
I asked Mack if he wants to come back next year. He declined to answer.— Mike Finger (@mikefinger) December 8, 2013
If Texas does jump head-first into the market for a new head coach, it will be late to the party. We’ve seen USC waste little time deciding on its next coach, while Washington finally hauled Chris Petersen—someone who has been connected to Texas in the past—away from Boise State. Kevin Sumlin, Art Briles and Gus Malzahn each landed monster new deals that should keep them at their current schools.
It’s not as if Texas will be out of options, however. An opening would send shock waves throughout the college football landscape. Despite the school’s struggles in recent years, this is a job that will draw interest from a lot of places.
One coach who could have interest is Mike Gundy. For Texas, the interest should be mutual.
At Oklahoma State, Gundy has a record of 77-37 since 2005. He’s won at least 10 games in three of the past four seasons and has a bowl record of 5-2. He knows the conference, and although he hasn’t exactly taken the recruiting world by storm, his familiarity with the area could pay dividends early on in new colors.
While Gundy is happy—often dancing with his players to celebrate victories—he’s also been connected to jobs in recent years. Last year, it looked like he was heading to Tennessee for a while, and then the talk of a deal subsided.
He’s not ready to drop everything and leave, but he’s not necessarily cemented to the school either.
For Texas, it needs a head coach with an offensive background. It needs a personality that can take the state by storm and revive recruiting to a place it was not long ago. It needs a name that will guide it away from the current narrative.
Most importantly, it needs a winner.
Mack Brown’s future has not been decided yet, at least not publicly. If and when a change is made, however, the Longhorns shouldn’t outthink themselves. They’ve seen first-hand what Oklahoma State has become under Gundy’s guidance.
Perhaps a phone call is in order.