Texas is one of the top coaching jobs in college football, if not the top. It is not, however, one of the top coaching jobs in all of football. It's not even close.
Even the best college jobs—Forbes.com once again listed Texas as the most valuable college team in the country—are a giant step below the NFL, which is the most popular sport in America by a country mile. To compare, Forbes reported in August that the Oakland Raiders, the NFL's least-valuable franchise, were still worth $825 million.
That's roughly six times the value of the Longhorns, who are worth a reported $139 million.
The NFL and college football are two completely different animals that demand separate obligations, coaching styles, rules, pay scales, etc. Winning in the NFL means winning at the highest level possible.
So, before it can truly get out of hand, let's debunk the notion that an active NFL coach will take the Texas job.
Specifically, there have been five coaches loosely connected to the vacancy in Austin, via the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers, Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks, Chip Kelly of the Philadelphia Eagles and Mike McCarthy of the Green Bay Packers. Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers has also been mentioned.
Not that denials are anything sacred, but for the sake of inclusion, Harbaugh and Tomlin have already dismissed those rumors, per NFL.com.
Granted, Harbaugh, Kelly and Carroll have recent ties to the college game from their time at Stanford, Oregon and USC, respectively. In that regard, throwing their names against the wall to see if they stick isn't completely ridiculous (although Kelly still has a show-cause penalty from the NCAA investigation at Oregon).
Still, those three just got to the NFL. Why would they go back?
The Seahawks have already clinched a playoff berth, and the 49ers and Eagles are fighting to keep one with two weeks left in the regular season. If a Super Bowl appearance is on the line, though, all focus is going to be on that. Playoffs also don't start until the first week of January.
That means, at best, Texas would have one month to bring in a new coach and keep a recruiting class together before National Signing Day on Feb. 5. Texas may "sell itself," but prolonging a hire in the off chance an NFL coach says yes is putting too much faith in the wrong place.
Does that mean a former NFL head coach or a current coordinator wouldn't be interested? No, but that's not who is being tossed through the coaching rumor mill. Even then, it's not a guarantee. Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio reportedly interviewed for the USC job in November, but he didn't get the job.
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, Harbaugh also reportedly "flat out" rejected interest from USC.
The other name that's been recently tossed into Texas' 10-gallon hat is Jon Gruden, the former Raiders and Buccaneers coach who is currently the color analyst for Monday Night Football.
Geoff Ketchum of Orangebloods.com was the first to report apparent interest on Gruden's part.
OB$ A source with knowledge of the situation has confirmed that Jon Gruden is interested in the vacant Texas HC job http://t.co/xTgcqKJtGO— Geoff Ketchum (@gkketch) December 18, 2013
No contact between Texas and Jon Gruden has taken place at this time. Source merely mentioned interest level fro Gruden was legit.— Geoff Ketchum (@gkketch) December 18, 2013
It's never really a big-time coaching search unless Gruden's name appears in it. In fairness to Ketchum and Orangebloods, they're not reporting that Gruden is a target for new Texas athletic director Steve Patterson, only that he's interested.
But Gruden has a cushy, low-stress TV gig. If Gruden does get back into coaching again, the Orangebloods report would also clash with previous comments made by USC AD Pat Haden on The Dan Patrick Show.
“I talked with Jon a while back,” Haden said to Patrick via coachingsearch.com. “He wants to coach in the pros. If he’s a head coach, he wants to coach in the pros.”
Among the biggest differences between the college and pro game is recruiting. At the college level, recruiting is a major component of success. It's not just about walking into a prospect's living room and being that guy from TV; it's also about developing a relationship with high school coaches and mentors.
Gruden hasn't done a lick of recruiting in more than 20 years. Neither has McCarthy, who coached with Gruden at Pitt in the early 1990s. Tomlin hasn't recruited since 2000 at the University of Cincinnati.
What Texas needs is a coach who understands the current recruiting landscape. There are plenty of solid candidates at the college level who do. As Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports opines, "Texas is a great job. It's the kind of job that almost can't be screwed up."
Whether Texas' next hire thrives or sinks remains to be seen. Whoever it is, though, likely won't be coming immediately from the NFL.
Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. Follow him on Twitter @BenKercheval.