While Charlie Strong technically showed up at Texas as the former head coach at Louisville, Strong’s 21 years as an assistant in the SEC defined him as a product of the league when he was hired by the Longhorns.
And while that decision appears to have been a dud, we have to at least consider the possibility that Texas may come sniffing around the SEC during its search for a new head coach. After all, South Carolina coach Will Muschamp used to be the Longhorns’ coach-in-waiting under Mack Brown prior to taking the Florida coaching job in 2011.
Houston’s Tom Herman has long been considered the favorite to replace Strong in Austin, but it’s far from a lock at this point.
If the Longhorns do decide to give the SEC a look during this coaching search, here are some names that may be brought up:
Nick Saban, Alabama head coach
Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way, because we know that Saban’s name inevitably will be brought up anytime there is an opening at Texas. Prior to hiring Strong, there was seemingly nonstop chatter about the Longhorns spending big money to pry away college football’s best coach. And, spoiler alert, Saban stayed put at Alabama.
Texas officials are likely to make that phone call again, because they have to make Saban (or his representation) tell them no again before they go any other direction. It’s due diligence for one of the traditional college football powers.
But let’s put the idea of Saban going to Texas to bed before the rumors even start. At 65 years old and well on his way to a potential fifth national championship and No. 1 recruiting classes becoming an annual tradition in Tuscaloosa, there’s simply no reason for Saban to entertain a different college football job. Another shot at the NFL? At least there’s a trophy he hasn’t won out there for the taking when you talk about that rumor.
Lane Kiffin, Alabama offensive coordinator
If not Saban, how about his hotshot offensive coordinator? Kiffin has been down the road of being a head coach at a major college football program twice, and neither USC nor Tennessee had a story book ending.
While his results at Alabama speak for themselves and remind everyone what a gifted offensive mind he is, the weight of his performance at USC is likely going to require that he take a head coaching gig with less expectations before building his brand back to that elite level.
Will he land a head coaching job somewhere this offseason? Quite possibly. Will it be at Texas? Probably not.
Les Miles, former LSU head coach
Laugh at this one if you want, but national championship-winning coaches don’t grow on trees. And neither do head coaches that are capable of navigating the politics involved in a major program such as Texas.
While LSU decided it had enough of Miles earlier in the season, Miles has proven he can do both of the above successfully.
There aren’t many coaches on the market with his track record. Miles logged a 114-34 record as coach of the Tigers from 2004-16, including a 62-28 conference record and two national title game appearances.
The downside? He’s 63 years old and has a stigma about being unwilling to adapt to the ever-changing offensive landscape of college football.