Welcome to COACHWATCH, a weekly review of the college football coaching carousel.
The only BCS-conference coaching job even remotely in play as of Thursday morning is arguably the biggest of them all. Everyone seems to agree that Mack Brown is out in Austin. Everyone, that is, but Mack Brown.
When reached by text moments ago, Brown refuted the story to Horns247.
"I haven't seen (the) article," Brown wrote.
"I'm in Florida recruiting. If I had decided to step down I sure wouldn't be killing myself down here. I have not decided to step down."
The thing is, Brown has no choice in the matter. His buyout is a mere $2.75 million, pocket change for Texas and barely half of what the Longhorns would pay Brown if he was retained for another year. Texas has a new athletic director, Steve Patterson, who holds none of the same allegiances to Brown that his predecessor, DeLoss Dodds, had. The fanbase is ready for a change.
If Patterson wants Brown to step down, Brown will step down with his full buyout and emeritus position and probably a statue at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. If Brown refuses, he will get fired and trade everything but the buyout for his pride.
Patterson insists he has not made any decisions. Brown insists he has done the same. The Texas Board of Regents is scheduled to meet Thursday. These things are coming to a head all at once. (Brown is also scheduled to appear at a Thursday morning Alamo Bowl presser.)
If Brown goes, the focus immediately shifts 700 miles east, where Nick Saban has a contract extension waiting. Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram brought the Saban-to-Texas rumors back to life Tuesday:
Source close to Texas executive council of regents says Nick Saban will be next Longhorns coach.— Stefan Stevenson (@FollowtheFrogs) December 11, 2013
There will be no movement until Saban signs a contract somewhere. And then, regardless of Saban's decision, all hell is going to break loose. If he stays, one of the most coveted jobs in the nation will be up for grabs. If he leaves, the nation's best current roster will have to be inherited by someone. Every coach in the country will line up for either vacancy, and an otherwise slow coaching carousel will get a whole lot faster.
The big news around the FAU coaching search has centered on who is not getting the job. Former FIU coach and current Alabama assistant Mario Cristobal did not interview for the job, according to Coaching Search. Also out are Cincinnati offensive coordinator Eddie Gran and interim coach Brian Wright.
FAU's athletic director, Pat Chun, came to South Florida from Ohio State, and is rumored to be focusing on the Buckeye State for his next coach: OSU co-defensive coordinator (and former North Carolina coach) Everett Withers and assistant head coach Stan Drayton are both reportedly in play. Chun has already blown through his self-imposed deadline to name the new head coach.
Miami (Ohio) used to be the "cradle of coaches." That cradle has now moved south. With Bryan Harsin leaving for Boise State, Arkansas State embarks on its fourth coaching search in as many seasons. Defensive coordinator John Thompson, who is acting as interim coach for his second consecutive bowl game, is as close to an institutional pick as there can be at a place where nobody stays long.
Of course, there is one other name tied to Thompson who could surface at Arkansas State: Ed Orgeron, who played for Thompson at Northwestern State and hired Thompson as defensive coordinator at Ole Miss in 2007. Coach O is obviously in the market for a new gig, and Arkansas State is obviously not above being a stepping stone to bigger things.
Coaching Search is also floating Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, who coached under Gus Malzahn at Arkansas State last season, and Gran.
With Dave Clawson leaving to take the opening at Wake Forest and taking his coordinators with him, Bowling Green had to start from scratch. Florida defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin was the first name in play. Durkin spent four seasons as a graduate assistant and defensive coach with the Falcons before stints at Stanford and Florida. According to Football Scoop, Durkin's the initial frontrunner.
That does not make him the automatic choice, though. Urban Meyer, who is a former BGSU head coach and works just up the road, is reportedly promoting OSU defensive coordinator Luke Fickell for the job. Interim coach Adam Scheier also figures to be in the mix.
UConn's first choice ended in failure, as Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi turned down the Huskies' offer Wednesday. It didn't take long for Connecticut to find Plan B: Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco is set to be named the next UConn head coach Thursday. Diaco's getting $1.5 million a year, in line with what Paul Pasqualoni was making in Storrs.
EMU named Drake head coach Chris Creighton to replace Ron English Wednesday night. Creighton earned his stripes in the NAIA and Division III before becoming Drake's head coach. He took the Bulldogs to two conference championships in the non-scholarship Pioneer League.
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