Texas' new athletic director has a tall task on his hands, trying to find a suitable replacement for Mack Brown as the eyes of the collective college football nation are on Steve Patterson. Patterson, along with the search committee, has to hit a home run on multiple levels, and the longer the administration waits to get its guy, the worse the situation becomes for Texas.
The Dallas Morning News reported that Patterson has set a January 15 deadline for getting the Longhorns a new coach, a drop-dead date that's far later than anyone in burnt orange is comfortable with. The middle of January date would cut short the new coaches recruiting chances in a cycle that Texas can ill afford to lose.
With National Signing Day coming on February 5, just 20 days to contact, convincing commitments to stay and adding to the list is certainly a detriment to the new leader. It is also tough for the kids, players who committed to play for Brown and are now looking to see the new style Texas is moving to and how, or if, they fit the next coach's plans.
More importantly, for Patterson and the Texas family, the longer the wait means the more Texas is having to do to pull a coach into the fold. It means ceding more ground, giving more money and doing something most Texas folks did not expect the school needed to do, really asking someone to take the job.
Before the Texas gig opened, the job in Austin was the creme de la creme. The job that coaches, even men at top-tier schools, would drop everything to grab. The job with all of the assets, the biggest plus, the best job in the game. The job that everyone wanted.
Yet, as the clock ticks, with no one in place, possibly ticking all the way until Jan. 15, the allure of the job seems to be called into question. Thus far in the process, Texas has become more of a bargaining chip than a destination. First, it was Nick Saban, as Tide Sports reported, getting a new deal done while the Texas contingent thought he would be their guy.
Auburn's Gus Malzahn, according to AL.com, inked a new deal on the strength of his big season, all while Texas rumors swirled. The other BCS National Championship Game coach, Jimbo Fisher at Florida State, not only agreed to a raise early in December, but also inked the deal to close out 2013, as reported by Warchant.
Three men Texas had eyeballs on all getting raises, all getting extensions and all not being Texas' head coach.
Texas is a premier job with plenty of positives for whoever gets the gig. But right now, the Longhorns are sitting, waiting, hoping that whoever the power-that-be deem worthy of hiring also wants them back. A tough situation to be in, and as the school waits for a yes, the net cast for candidates becomes a bit wider.
The Longhorns are going to hear a yes. There are plenty of coaches out there who would love the job. The issue becomes whether or not Texas wants those coaches at the helm. There are still good names on the list of possible candidates, but together by the Austin American Statesman. In the Big 12, Mike Gundy at Oklahoma State and Art Briles are both sitting as options. Across the collegiate landscape, Louisville's Charlie Strong, Stanford's David Shaw and Vanderbilt's James Franklin are still hanging out there for the Longhorns.
However, as time passes and the deadline approaches, those names could turn into UCLA's Jim Mora, Arizona State's Todd Graham and North Carolina's Larry Fedora, among others. The longer the Longhorns wait, the less likely Patterson and the Committee are to knock this hire out of the park.
And at Texas, a place not only ruled by wins, but by politics and egos, waiting until January 15, and not sating the masses with a name hire, is a bad place for Steve Patterson to start his career.
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