As the Texas coaching search ramps up into high gear, and the list of potential candidates becomes more focused, the Longhorns should get ready for one thing: denial of interest from almost every rumored contender for the job. It might not be fun to hear, but until a hire is made, fans in Austin are going to hear "no thanks" quite a bit.
Several candidates have already shot down speculation, whether directly in reference to Texas or in general.
The Michigan State head coach has been named as a possible dark horse for the job, but he says he doesn't want to move on from the Spartans:
"I see Michigan State as a destination, not a stop," Dantonio said. "That's how I see it. Flattering, but that's how I see it."
Jimbo Fisher [updated Dec. 18]
Florida State's top man is preparing for the BCS National Championship Game, and he recently signed an extension with the Seminoles. He's been asked a couple times about rumors, with his sharpest denial coming after FSU's first bowl practice:
"I'm going to talk about our team, that's all I'm going to talk about. I ain't getting into all the rumors," Fisher said following Wednesday's practice. "It's unfair to those teams and our team. We're planning here, getting ready for a game, that's where I plan on being, right here getting ready for a game.
The Vanderbilt head coach may be the hottest name on the list. He's a high-energy guy, and he sounds pretty amped for the BBVA Compass Bowl. But, he hasn't specifically denied interest in Texas:
"Really excited about the program-development period that we're in right now and working with these young guys," Franklin said. "Really excited about playing Houston. We've watched them on film. I think they're really talented. I think it's going to be a challenge for us.
"That's what our focus is. Any of those other things, you know, we don't talk about that are outside of our area of control or focus or concern. We're focused on getting better as an organization and then getting ready for Houston."
Graham has been at Arizona State for less than two years, and he's tired of being linked to the Longhorns:
"We're working hard," Graham said Tuesday. "Myself, and Coach Norvell is in the same boat -- and we'll have a comment on that (Wednesday) -- our focus is to keep our staff together, and we're going to do that.
"We're committed to building a top-five program in the country."
He's coached at four different schools since 2006, which makes his exasperation over the Texas rumors seem a little disingenuous. However, Arizona State already has a plan in place to keep its head coach from bolting to Austin, as new Texas AD Steve Patterson has agreed to not poach any Sun Devils coaches.
Harbaugh turned Stanford into a power, and he's led the San Francisco 49ers back to the NFL's top tier. He doesn't have much patience for Texas innuendo:
"Are you trying to be funny?" Harbaugh said at his Wednesday press conference when asked about possible interest from the Longhorns. "I don't ever talk about any job other than the one I have."
Kelly's first season with the Philadelphia Eagles hasn't been entirely roses and sunshine, but it sounds like he isn't ready to give up on being an NFL coach:
"I understand you have to ask the question," Kelly said Monday, "but I'm not involved in any jobs. I'm the coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. I'm going to prepare for the Bears and prepare for the Cowboys after that. Hopefully we have an opportunity to go to the playoffs and I'm going to be here for a while."
Like Fisher, Malzahn is preparing for the BCS Championship Game, and like Fisher, he recently agreed to a new contract. When a man says he's "tickled to death," you have to believe him for now, right?
"I'm a good fit for Auburn Tigers," the first-year Auburn coach said Monday. "That's why I signed a contract the day before the SEC Championship. Like I said before, I'm tickled to death to be here."
Urban Meyer [added Dec. 18]
The Ohio State coach is considered the second-best in the country (behind Saban) by many, with some speculating that he's grown frustrated by the national perception of his team's conference. But he says he's sticking with his native state's flagship. Coach, what's your take on Texas?
Urban Meyer says he isn't going to Texas. "I have no take. I'm here." Meyer reiterated he's at OSU for the long haul.— Kyle Rowland (@KyleRowland) December 18, 2013
Remember when Miles was linked to Michigan in 2007 and his denials were pure gold? He hasn't lost his touch:
"Oh, please, let's not kick my name around."
Mora spurned Washington to sign an extension at UCLA, which he says he wants to honor:
" No. ... I love being a UCLA Bruin. My plan is to stay here and hopefully retire one day. You never know, they might kick you out. But, right now my plan is to be at UCLA forever."
"I'm coaching the UCLA Bruins vs. Virginia Tech on December 31st, 2013, in the Sun Bowl. ... That's what I'm doing. It's like Jim Harbaugh said: 'For me to be even thinking about any other job is absurd.' And that's the same for me. I don't even think about that. ... I only think about the job that I've got. I'm staying at UCLA. I love UCLA. Why would I ever want to leave UCLA? I've tried to learn to never say never because you don't know where life is going to take you, but I would love to have the opportunity to stay at UCLA for the rest of my career."
After signing a $7 million contract, Saban said he never even thought about Texas:
"The way this sort of got spun, it was a little bit more like, 'OK, he got a new contract at Alabama, so he's going to stay at Alabama instead of going to Texas,'" Saban told ESPN.com on Saturday. "I never considered going to Texas. That wasn't even a conversation.
"I knew that if Mack stepped down, there would probably be an opportunity, but it wasn't something I was interested in doing, not at this stage in my career."
Shaw hasn't specifically mentioned Texas rumors, but he has said he's not interested in leaving, even for the NFL.
"No matter what I say, the rumors aren't going to stop," he said. "It doesn't bother me. Every good football program in the last 15 years, after two good years, the head coach is going to be rumored to go someplace else. I take it as a compliment."
Strong wants to make it clear that he's loyal to Louisville:
"I don't even think about it," Strong said. "I don't even worry about it. I have a good job here. I have a really good job here. There's a lot of work to be done here. The only thing I can control is what's happening right here."
"I just want to make sure that I don't allow that to take away from our bowl preparation, that I don't allow it to hinder anything that I'm trying to do for this university," he said. "I don't even get caught up in it. I make sure we work here. We go to practice. That everything's getting done here and we're all on track."
"Four years ago I didn't have a job," Strong said. "Now that I have a job I get all the talk. Nobody wanted me. It's what you get everywhere."
The Steelers head coach claims to have no interest in stepping down from the NFL to college football:
"I always had a desire to compete in this sport at the highest level, but you don't know if those opportunities are going to be presented to you," said Tomlin. "I think that once you're exposed to football at this level, you realize there's only one bowl game - the Super Bowl. The rest of that stuff is nice trips and sweatsuits and watches."
Now, @Steelers Mike Tomlin supposedly a candidate for UT job. Doesn't 'candidate' imply someone who wants the job. Must not in this case— Bob Labriola (@BobLabriola) December 11, 2013
@SportsTripper He has no interest in being a college coach. He has said that to me, directly.— Bob Labriola (@BobLabriola) December 11, 2013