It's difficult to upstage a Jon Gruden rumor, but the Texas Longhorns managed to do it—to itself, mind you—in the same day.
The university announced Wednesday, per The Dallas Morning News, that an eight-member search committee would aid new athletic director Steve Patterson in the search for a new football coach to succeed Mack Brown.
According to Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News, this is practically the same committee used earlier this fall to help search for the new AD, a job that ultimately went to Patterson.
Texas will also use the search firm of Korn/Ferry International to help as well, per The Dallas Morning News.
Given the comments by university president Bill Powers at Sunday's press conference announcing Brown's resignation, these latest moves are an intriguing development. From Chris Hummer of the Daily Texan:
Powers insisted that it would be Patterson, not he or Texas’ board of regents, making the hiring decision.
'Athletics is not my field,' Powers said. 'We will talk together and consult and we’ll sit down and go through the process. But Steve Patterson will hire the next head coach.'
There are two active members of the board of regents on the committee, as well as a former member. No matter who is hired, he will be presented as "Patterson's guy." But how much of Texas' next hire is on Patterson and how much is on the search committee? Or, how much of it is on boosters making their voices heard behind the scenes?
Chip Brown of Orangebloods.com appeared on the Jason McIntyre Show Wednesday and reported that there was internal pressure to remove Mack Brown. Otherwise, the money well was going to start drying up. Here's Chip Brown's quote, courtesy of the Dallas Morning News:
I’m told that on Saturday morning (the day after the football banquet) the group leading the change told (UT President Bill) Powers, ‘You need to get this taken care of.’ Basically he was told a lot of money would come out of the university if it didn’t. … Mack, once he learned that, he was like, ‘I’m not going to be in the middle of this. I will step away.’
However the decision-making is truly divided up, there is an abundance of power and ego behind this coaching hire—and the latter is a far more dangerous factor.
Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports wrote Sunday, regarding the Texas hire, that "Division and debates, partisanship and perceived power, are about the only thing that can mess this up."
That's not to say Texas will screw this up, but some initial reaction to the selection committee was, in a word, pessimistic.
If Texas had the utmost confidence in Patterson, a committee to help hire a coach wouldn't be needed. Or, it's possible that this is a move by Patterson to try to appease the powers that be in the early stages of his tenure.
However, Texas believes it has time and options. If there's one way a selection committee could be beneficial (or less destructive), it's if it has time on its side. There appears to be no rush by Patterson or Texas in finding Brown's replacement.
Exploring options for the most important hire of Patterson's young career at Texas is understandable. At the same time, this may be a case where it's best not to overthink things. With all the resources Texas has at its disposal, Patterson could probably plug quite a few coaches into the vacancy and have success.
Texas is far from the only school where everyone, from boosters to regents to administrators, has an opinion on what's best for the football program. The difference is everything the Longhorns do is going to be magnified. That includes the week of disjointed reports leading up to Brown's resignation.
For all the talk about what a great job Texas is—and it is—it's also fair to question what coach would really want all the excess baggage that goes with it.