It’s painfully obvious that one way or another, Mack Brown will not return to coach the Texas Longhorns in 2014. When and how this part goes down is the only mystery; it’s happening whether by resignation or walking papers.
The flip side of it is the mystery. Who will replace Mack?
It’s an easy answer if a certain SEC coach that has won three of the last four national championships decides to bring his talents to Austin. The job is Nick Saban’s if he wants it, also not a mystery.
Why would he leave Alabama? Money isn’t the issue here. Maybe he’s bored. Perhaps he wants to win a national title at a third program and cement his status as the best ever. Maybe he likes the Texas Hill Country. It honestly doesn’t matter. What does matter is his answer, and Texas will not back down until he says no.
Count me in the camp that still believes Saban ain’t going anywhere. There’s a report that a new Alabama contract has been sitting on his desk since Friday. I’ll admit that every day that this saga continues without him signing it, the more I think that Saban to Austin could happen. I’ll still believe it when I see it.
Meanwhile, I’ll stand by something I’ve been saying since August, when rumors of Mack’s demise first began to surface. Texas does indeed need to target a current SEC coach. The problem – they’re focused on the wrong one.
Not that Saban wouldn’t be a home run; he would. He’s become a legend, with a statue already erected on the Alabama campus (imagine what might happen to that statue by the fans if he left for Austin; but let’s not go there).
But Saban is so big, he may be larger than the university. In fact, he is, and I don’t like that. Texas is one of the biggest brands in the country and certainly could get almost any coach they want. But no one should be bigger than the program and I don’t like that combo.
To me, the winning recipe is to get a guy who can come in and build something. And stay for many years to come, ala Mack Brown or Darrell Royal, writing his own era in the great history of Texas Football.
Here’s the other thing – age. Saban is a whopping two months younger than Brown at 62. If Saban comes to Texas, he’s good for another five or six seasons and done. Again, not that this would be bad. It’s just not ideal.
This is a young man’s game. Royal was 33 when he joined the Horns. Bob Stoops was 39 when he was hired by OU in 1999. Brown was 47 when he was brought over to Texas from North Carolina.
Franklin is 41 and his next move has the distinct possibility of becoming the program that is synonymous with his name.
Yes, I think he’s that good.
Let’s start with the numbers. Franklin is a bowl win over Houston in the BBVA Compass Bowl from back-to-back nine-win seasons at Vanderbilt. Think about that for a second. Vanderbilt. A closer look inside those numbers shows a 9-6 record in the Commodores’ last 15 SEC games, the best conference in the nation. This is especially impressive when you factor in that Vanderbilt had won a grand total of 13 conference games over the 10 years prior to Franklin’s arrival.
The perception of Vanderbilt’s program has changed dramatically under Franklin. He has less than desirable facilities (that’s putting it nicely), and he’s developed two-star recruit Jordan Matthews into the SEC’s most productive receiver of all-time, and three-star Zac Stacy into one of the NFL’s best rookies this season, among others.
Imagine what he would be able to do with Texas’ facilities and prestige. Let’s also not forget that Vanderbilt’s admission standards are second-to-none, and it is not easy to get some of the top recruits to even qualify to be admitted to one of the best schools in the country.
Then there are the intangibles. He is great with boosters and the media and certainly would be fine with all of the responsibilities that come with the Longhorn Network.
And anyone worried about Franklin’s motivation techniques should simply watch this: click here.
It comes down to one word for me — substance. Franklin has it and would have it for a long time in Austin.
Again, Saban would be a home run hire; no one disputes that. But go find the next Nick Saban; go get the “next guy.” Oklahoma did with Stoops, USC did with Pete Carroll, Florida did with Urban Meyer, Texas A&M did with Kevin Sumlin.
Texas has done this before; why not do it again? Obviously the first call has been made to Tuscaloosa. Now the Horns sit and wait. Will Saban come?
I’m not sure but I’m of the opinion that they should have called the SEC East before calling the SEC West. If Saban ultimately says no, I’d be calling James Franklin.