Fiesta Bowl 2014: Will Baylor's Loss to UCF Scare Texas off Art Briles?

Sean FryeFeatured ColumnistJanuary 2, 2014

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 01:  Head coach Art Briles of the Baylor Bears looks on against the UCF Knights during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 1, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Art Briles is considered one of the leading candidates for the now-vacant Texas job. But Baylor's 52-42 upset loss to the UCF Knights in the Fiesta Bowl may have administrators in Austin weary of going after Briles.

One of Mack Brown's biggest issues in his last few years has been Texas' ability to win the "bright lights" games. In 2013 alone, the Longhorns had a chance to win the Big 12 title with a win over Baylor in their regular-season finale. 

They lost 30-10. 

Then there was Brown's finale at Texas, the Alamo Bowl against Oregon. While the Longhorns went into the game as huge underdogs to the Ducks and their high-octane offense, the fact that the game was in San Antonio and that Brown would likely not hold anything back in his last game had fans hopeful for a storybook ending. 

The final score? 30-7 Oregon. 

Back to Briles. It's hard to argue against the man responsible for one of the greatest turnarounds of any collegiate sports program in recent memory. 

However, the Longhorns' athletic department wants to find the absolute best man for the job. With all the money, facilities and reputation that the university has at its disposal, you've got to think they'll get exactly who they want. 

Obviously Baylor had a great season. They lost just two games—both to ranked teams—and were in the national title conversation late into the season. 

But Texas wants a coach who can win the biggest games on the grandest stages. However, Baylor struggled against Oklahoma State and UCF, its two toughest opponents this season

On Nov. 23, the Bears went into Stillwater, Okla. with a perfect 9-0 mark and just three wins from what could've been a berth into the BCS National Championship Game. They had won every game by double digits, but Baylor was also facing its first ranked team of the year. 

Oct 20, 2012; Austin, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns head coach Mack Brown (right) talks with Baylor Bears head coach Art Briles (left) prior to kick off at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Texas beat Baylor 56-50. Mandatory Credit: Brendan Maloney-USA T
Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Instead of continuing its normal dominance, Baylor dropped an egg in Stillwater and got trounced 49-17. That loss effectively knocked Baylor from the national title hunt. Had Oklahoma State not lost to Oklahoma two weeks later, the Bears would've also not won the Big 12 title because of that loss. 

Then in the Fiesta Bowl, the Bears went into the game as huge favorites over UCF, a team from a conference that many feel shouldn't have the automatic bid to the BCS. 

Once again, the Bears faltered against tough competition and fell to the Knights. 

Regents at Texas are going to be very particular about whom they select to be the next leader of their football team. They want a coach who has a proven track record of success in winning, recruiting and everything else that comes with the job. 

Right or wrong, they don't want someone who loses to UCF, a traditional middle-of-the-road team. 

Brown's struggles to beat top competition in the last few years played a huge role in his ousting; the last thing the regents want is a coach who doesn't shine in the spotlight.

For that reason, Briles' problems in big games could very well take his name out of consideration for the Texas job.