Change was necessary at Texas. Mack Brown did a lot of great things during his extended tenure with the Longhorns, but the program had become stagnant in recent years. Bringing in a coach like Art Briles would be the first step to getting back on a championship level.
In today's college football world, the teams challenging for national titles are the ones that sport a clear identity. Auburn owns the nation's best rushing attack. Florida State has the best scoring defense, which finally got the offensive support it needed thanks to the arrival of Jameis Winston.
Last season, the championship game featured Alabama and Notre Dame, both extremely strong defensive teams. Also in the mix was Oregon, an outstanding offensive team.
While Texas has been solid in many areas, it hasn't had that overarching identity. Those top teams always have something to lean on to get through big regular-season games. The Longhorns need to find that to get back on top.
That's why Briles is such an intriguing option. He took a Baylor program that was struggling mightily, created an offensive haven that would attract prospects and turned the Bears around without the resources or recruiting clout of the Longhorns.
He's seemingly a realistic option, too. Kirk Bohls and Brian Davis of the American-Statesman cite sources which go as far as stating Briles would accept the Texas job if it was offered to him:
The Baylor source said that Briles has no plans to remain in Arizona and is scheduled to return to Waco on Wednesday with the rest of the Baylor team. Two sources, including one close to Briles, has told the Statesman that Briles would accept the Texas job if offered.
Exactly how interested the Longhorns are and where he would fall on their wish list is unclear, but if he's as intrigued by the job as those sources suggest, he's a great target.
It's important to remember how far out of the picture Baylor was before Briles arrived. It hadn't secured a winning season in more than a decade and had four winless Big 12 campaigns over that span. The Bears were a complete non-factor.
The turnaround took a couple years, as Briles recruited the type of players he needed to make his system work and to change the program's identity on a national basis for recruiting, but the Bears cracked the .500 mark three years later, and the non-factor label is gone.
Similarly, it would take some time for Briles to get the Texas program where he would want it. In other words, pushing the Longhorns into immediate title contention wouldn't be a realistic expectation, but signs of clear progress would be.
Mark Schlabach of ESPN passed along comments from Texas Tech's Kliff Kingsbury, who made it crystal clear what he thought of the job Briles had done:
Earlier this season, Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury called Briles' rebuilding job one of the "greatest feats in college football history."
"I still don't think he gets the credit he deserves for the job he's done at Baylor," Kingsbury said. "I don't think people nationally understand how down the program was when he took the job."
If you give a head coach with that type of ability to rebuild a program with the backing of Texas' resources and national recognition, great things are once again possible. It may take some time, but the future would once again be bright instead of remaining on the current course.
Texas needs a team identity. Briles is the coach that can build it, getting one of the nation's top programs back on the right path.
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