Replacing Mack Brown is of utmost importance to Texas on the recruiting trail.
After getting shredded in a 30-10 loss to Baylor, the Longhorns now have to deal with the equally explosive Oregon Ducks in the Alamo Bowl.
And that's the least of their problems.
Before national signing day on February 5, Texas is a problem littered with questions that have no definitive answer in sight. Chief among them being its head coaching vacancy.
Staring down the barrel of a second-straight ranking outside the top-10, it's time the 'Horns start turning things around.
Who Will the Head Coach Be?
For those of you that have been underground for the past week, Brown has, in fact, decided to step down after this year's Alamo Bowl. So who will be the next man up to work on "killing himself" on the recruiting trail?
So who would you take between Charlie Strong, Art Briles and James Franklin at the University of Texas for the next head football coach?— Sean Adams (@thatsean) December 17, 2013
Brown's final game is not until the end of the month, which is a long time during a crucial recruiting stage. The program has landed just one commit since early September, and lacking a head coach does everything but help bring in talent.
As of now, these recruits have no idea what offense Texas will run next year. Or who their coordinators will be. Or anything else that would help them make the biggest decision of their young lives.
So, be it Charlie Strong, James Franklin, Dabo Swinney or somebody yet to hit the radar, Texas needs a head coach. Fast.
How Will the Next Coach Affect the Class?
Whoever Texas hires as its next head coach is going to have a profound effect on both its current and future commitments. Generally speaking, it is going to be interesting to see how it plays out.
In terms of future recruits, hiring Franklin could attract a guy like 4-star receiver Speedy Noil. Bringing on a defensive-minded guy like Strong could finally pull Solomon Thomas off the market. Really any stability at the top could swing some major battles in Texas' favor.
Or the hire could have the opposite effect. Perhaps Jerrod Heard could decide to follow Darrell Wyatt, who led the quarterback's recruitment, to his next destination.
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
Until a hire is made, its impact is pure speculation. Once it does happen, this class stands to take on a whole new look.
Can DBU Land Its Prize?
There are 10 defensive back prospects in the state of Texas that are ranked in the Rivals 250. What do they all have in common? None of them are committed to the University of Texas.
With All-Big 12 corner Carrington Byndom on to the NFL, safety Adrian Phillips graduating and junior Quandre Diggs still undecided on next season, the 'Horns could have an anemic secondary in 2014. Duke Thomas would be the only returning regular on the back end.
The 'Horns could easily remedy that issue by signing corner Tony Brown or safety Jamal Adams, the two best defensive back prospects in the state. Both have Day 1 talent, and would be no-brainers for "DBU".
Except neither have made joining the 2014 class a priority, leaving Texas with two 3-star recruits in Jermaine Roberts and Jason Hall. Both are talented players—they just aren't ready to hit the ground running like Brown or Adams.
There is a lot of ground to make up here, but adding a head coach should remedy this shaky scenario.
Will Texas Take Another Quarterback?
When we look back at Mack Brown's undoing as Texas' head coach, one fact will stand out. That is that he flat out missed on the last three Heisman Trophy winners.
Yup. Brown wanted both 2011 winner Robert Griffin III and 2012 winner Johnny Manziel to play defensive back. He also passed on this year's winner Jameis Winston, who made it abundantly clear that he wanted to go to Texas.
That's ignoring the fact that Brown never looked at 2010 Heisman-winner Cam Newton, who went to junior college just 90 minutes away at Blinn. He also passed on Houstonian and future-No. 1 pick Andrew Luck, the runner-up for the award in 2010 and 2011.
Thus far, Texas's lone quarterback commit and offer is Jerrod Heard. As of now, he projects to battle Tyrone Swoopes, Texas' lone quarterback commit from 2013, for status as the future of the program.
Trey Hopkins says QB Tyrone Swoopes is seeing more first-team work in bowl practice, handling it well and more vocal now— Max Olson (@max_olson) December 19, 2013
But what if both turn out to be just Texas' latest misses on the trail? Will fans have to wait yet another year to finally get a difference-maker at the game's most important position?
How the next head coach handles Heard will be a major storyline heading into April.