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Blueprint for Texas' Ideal Next Head Coach

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Blueprint for Texas' Ideal Next Head Coach
Erich Schlegel/Getty Images

One of the most prestigious jobs in college football became vacant Saturday after Mack Brown officially announced his resignation from the University of Texas.

It didn't take long for multiple media outlet's to compile lists of viable replacements—ranging anywhere between current college coaches and current/former NFL coaches—to take over for Brown. 

Texas athletic director Steve Patterson listed off his head coach requirements, and if Patterson sticks to his guns, Brown's successor will have massive shoes to fill. 

Head Coach Requirements
1. Good with the press
2. Able to recruit and recruit the right athletes
3. Understand what a big-time college football program is about
4. Able to handle scrutiny
5. Have to win, and you have to win big
6. Must graduate student athletes, and athletes must take real classes
7. Be a mentor to athletes
8. If you don't meet criteria, must surround yourself with people who do

Texas Athletic Director Steve Patterson

Patterson's list did not include fundraising, clinics, maintaining a relationship with Texas' big money donors, Texas high school football coaches and Lettermen. But if the Longhorns expect to hire a similar version of Mack Brown, those details will be added to the checklist.

In addition to the job requirements, Patterson discussed his skepticism towards dipping into the NFL market.

"College football is a different enterprise than the NFL," Patterson said Sunday. "There are far different requirements of a college coach. Certainly you don't have the same sort of interaction with high school coaches, students, academics, mentoring and donor relations.

"All of those demands go into college coaching but are not at the pro level. I think whoever's going to coach here has to have some extensive experience at the college level."

Got all of that?

Now let's take a look at the main head-coaching targets from the media standpoint, and how they measure up to Patterson's criteria. 

(The following are the Top Five candidates based off lists from Sports Illustrated, USA Today, Dallas Morning News, Associated Press and Orangebloods.com.)

 

No. 1: Jimbo Fisher

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Florida State's Jimbo Fisher must embrace the knight in shining armor role for struggling football programs extremely well.

The Seminoles were 30-22 during Bobby Bowden's final four years in Tallahassee. But Fisher quickly turned things around and has helped return the Seminoles back to college football giants—giants who just so happen to be playing for a BCS National Championship this season.

Sounds like the ideal candidate for the Longhorns, right? 

But would Fisher, who worked as offensive coordinator and quarterback's coach under Nick Saban and Les Miles at LSU, be interested in coaching at Texas?

"I like where we are as a program right now," Fisher told Chron.com. "We've very blessed to have a Heisman winner and a chance to win a championship this year."

Fisher sounds content in Tallahassee, but let's be honest, in this day and age, money talks and Texas has plenty of money to work with. Let's see how Fisher fits with Patterson's requirements.

Requirements   Opinion
Good with the press? Have not heard of any press issues.
Able to recruit? Landed 2013 Heisman Trophy Winner Jameis Winston; signed Top 10 recruiting classes since 2010. (Via Rivals.com)
Understands big-time college football? Brought Florida State back to prominence.
Able to handle scrutiny? From coaching hot seat to champion. (Via Orlando Sentinel)
Wins, and wins big? 44-10 record at FSU since 2010.
Graduates athletes? 88% graduation rate. (Via Warchant.com)
A mentor for players? Have not heard of any personal issues.

Media Opinion - Jimbo Fisher
SI.com USA Today AP Dallas News Orangebloods.com
Candidate? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Media reports

 

No. 2: Jim Harbaugh

Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh has proven to be a success at both the college and NFL levels.

Harbaugh led the University of San Diego to two conference titles in three seasons and turned Stanford football into a national power. From the NFL perspective, Harbaugh led the 49ers—a team who had not had a winning season in the eight years prior to his arrival—to a Super Bowl in just his second year with the organization. Harbaugh is 34-11-1 in his three seasons in San Francisco.

Harbaugh recently turned down a two-year contract extension with the 49ers, according to Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated.

Does this mean he is unhappy in San Francisco? Probably not, but speculation suggests he could be a free agent and, as previously mentioned, money is no object for Texas and it could easily make a compelling offer to any coach.

But unlike Fisher, Harbaugh may not meet all of Patterson's criteria. 

Requirements   Opinion
Good with press?   Not on Bill Belichick level, but he has been known to speak his mind (even when a reporter asked him about the Texas job), which is not always presented well in the press.
Able to recruit? Recruited Andrew Luck at Stanford.
Understands big-time college football? Built Stanford into a big-time college football program.
Able to handle scrutiny? Handle it? Yes. But does he look to prove critics wrong and remind them of it? Yes. (Via Fox News)
Wins, and wins big? Led 49ers to a Super Bowl, rebuilt University of San Diego and Stanford.
Graduates athletes? Stanford graduation rate improved under Harbaugh. (Via USA Today)
A mentor for players? Stands up for his players, as the above Fox News article shows.

Media Opinion - Jim Harbaugh
SI.com USA Today AP Dallas News Orangebloods.com
Candidate? Yes Yes Yes Yes

Media reports

 

No. 3: Art Briles

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Baylor head coach Art Briles may not look like the sexy pick for Texas fans, but he should absolutely not be ignored.

Briles does more with less than any other coach in college football. Briles has not historically signed top prospects, but he finds the diamonds in the rough and develops them into monsters. A good example of this is former Rivals.com 2-star recruit turned third round NFL draft pick Terrance Williams.

Briles is the definition of football in the state of Texas.

He spent 16 years coaching at the high school level before making his move into college, which makes him relatable to Texas high school football coaches. If Briles entered a high school coach's office sporting the state's franchise university colors, the type of talent he could recruit would quite possibly be endless.

Requirements   Opinion
Good with press? His country charm is well received from the press standpoint.
Able to recruit? Fantastic ability to recognize talent.
Understands big-time college football?   Helped build the Baylor brand, but has not coached at a "big-time" school like Texas.
Able to handle scrutiny? Baylor is not considered the top-tier university in the state of Texas, but Briles has been successful at quieting critics through his player development.
Wins, and wins big?   Baylor had two historic winning seasons under Briles. 2011 led by Heisman winner Robert Griffin III and his 2013 Big 12 Champions. But historically speaking, Briles' teams do not have an impressive record.
Graduates athletes? Baylor has led the Big 12 in graduation rates under Briles.
A mentor for players? Helped turn the Terrance Williams of the recruiting world into NFL stars. Briles may not have the public recognition that other candidates have, but his teams fight for him. 

Media Opinion - Art Briles
SI.com USA Today AP Dallas News Orangebloods.com
Candidate? Yes Yes Yes Yes

Media reports

 

No. 4: Jim Mora

Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

UCLA's Jim Mora has helped lessen the stranglehold USC has had on Southern California recruits.

Mora has led the Bruin's to 18-8 in his two seasons in Westwood. The Dallas Morning News has Mora listed as a "dark horse" to replace Brown, which is a great way to describe his potential candidacy.

Mora recently signed a contract extension with UCLA, the school announced earlier in December. Does that mean he's off the table? No. But the better question is, would Mora be a good fit with Patterson's requirements?

Requirements   Opinion
Good with press? A perfect fit for handling the Longhorn Network duties, his fan-oriented Twitter campaign proves he has no issues dealing with the public.
Able to recruit? Has helped turn UCLA into one of the best programs on the West Coast.
Understands big-time college football? UCLA has not always been known for its vast college football achievements.
Able to handle scrutiny? For a while, UCLA has been considered the little brother to USC, so the little bro will always face scrutiny, and Mora has handled it well.
Wins, and wins big?   Undecided. 18-8 at UCLA. 32-34 in NFL.
Graduates athletes?   Undetermined due to just two years of NCAA coaching experience.
A mentor for players? His college record could be an indicator that his team plays for him.

Media Opinion - Jim Mora
SI.com USA Today AP Dallas News Orangebloods.com
Candidate? Yes Yes Yes Yes

Media reports

 

No. 5: James Franklin

Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin has led the historically bad Commodores, who had not won more than eight games since 1915, to three consecutive bowl games.

Some Texas fans may turn their nose to the idea of bringing in a football coach from Vanderbilt to take over for Brown, but his record in Nashville speaks volumes to his ability to turn coal into diamonds.

The 41-year-old does not have significant head-coaching experience, but he has proven to be a difference maker in his three years as a head coach.

Requirements   Opinion
Good with press? Handles himself with the media while expressing his concern for his players, as shown in this Knoxville radio station interview. 
Able to recruit? Success at Vanderbilt, which competes with SEC recruiting, would not be possible without good recruiting classes.
Understands big-time college football?   Franklin only has three years as the head coach of Vanderbilt, which is not on the same "big-time college football" level as Texas.
Able to handle scrutiny? Falls in line with the answer to good with press.
Wins, and wins big?   See answer to "Understands big-time college football program."
Graduates athletes?   Undetermined due to lack of NCAA coaching experience.
A mentor for players? Franklin's answer about the importance of a solid education (in the previously listed Knoxville radio station interview) speaks for itself.

Media Opinion - James Franklin
SI.com USA Today AP Dallas News Orangebloods.com
Candidate? Yes Yes Yes Yes

Media reports

 

4 Coaches Who Should Be on Texas' Radar

No. 1: Stanford's David Shaw
No. 2: Auburn's Gus Malzahn
No. 3: Clemson's Dabo Swinney
No. 4: Okahoma State's Mike Gundy

 

The Long Shot: Alabama's Nick Saban 

The Saban-to-Texas rumors sparked early in the season, after the Associated Press released the story that Saban's agent Jimmy Sexton spoke with Texas regents after the 2013 BCS National Championship. Saban's wife Terry was later involved in the rumors, when she was allegedly spotted house hunting in Austin.

Saban repeatedly denied all truth to reports of his interest in the Texas job and told ESPN that he "never considered going to Texas," according to Sporting News. Ironically, the university and Saban have recently agreed to a new contract, which will reportedly increase Saban's salary to $7 million per year. 

But until visual evidence of Saban's contract extension is publicly available, Saban should not be off the table. 

 

The Best Fit Replacement

Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Jimbo Fisher

There are a variety of impeccable candidates to take over for Mack Brown.

The clear-cut favorite was obviously Nick Saban. But if Saban's contract extension is legitimate, why not go after a coach who worked under Saban and has experienced success on his own?

A specific coach who has turned a program into a dominant force in college football, and just so happens to meet Patterson's specific criteria. You guessed it, one of the top candidates to take over at Texas should absolutely be Florida State's Jimbo Fisher. 

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

Follow Taylor on Twitter: @Taylor_Gaspar

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