When the rumors started getting hot and heavy two months ago, they were without much hair. A regent talked to an agent. A Hicks had lunch with Mack Brown. That was it. It seemed headed the way of the “Rick Perry is gay” rumor, proven wrong when he bailed on a Kathy Griffin show to catch Kings of Leon on Conan.
But several websites are quoting well-connected sources as saying that Nick Saban will be the next coach at the University of Texas. This follows the viral Orangebloods report that Mack Brown would resign. The writing on the wall was Banksy big.
There’s never been a better time for Nick Saban, the only coach to win college football national championships with two different programs, to go for a third.
The richest plantation in college sports would make Saban, who already makes $200,000 a year more than Coach Brown’s $5.4 million, college football’s first Six Million Dollar Man. Nick Austin! You see, when you pay the players like SXSW volunteers, with an education instead of a badge, you can throw a lot more money at the coaches. And the University of Texas is the New York Yankees with professors.
Even after a couple seasons of unrest, it seems a little strange that this will really be Mack Brown's final season at Texas, where he won a national championship in 2005 and would’ve won another in 2009 if Colt McCoy’s trick shoulder didn’t pick one helluva time to act up. Coach Brown never really got over that heartbreaking loss — to Saban and Alabama — and the next year a joyless, shell-shocked, Garrett Gilbert-led Longhorns team went 5-7.
Mel Gibson’s acting career didn’t fall so fast. The 2011 season wasn’t “Hangover 2,” but it wasn’t exactly return to glory either, with a win over Cal in the Holiday Bowl making an 8-5 final record. The next season Texas finished 9-4, but like the previous year, included a blowout loss to Oklahoma. That will always get the entitled, parking lot sausage-turners in burnt orange calling for heads to roll.
When Texas stumbled early in 2013, it seemed pretty certain that Mack Brown was singing to the swans. But the ridiculed Horns rebounded, winning six conference games in a row, including a 36-20 upset of OU, who are set to play Saban’s Tide in the Sugar Bowl.
Strange thing happened en route to Bama’s three-peat. Saban called for a field goal, which turned into a kickoff, and the Auburn player ran back for a touchdown on the final play of the game. Auburn beat heavily favored Alabama on Bo Jackson’s birthday, and Charles Barkley is still partying.
There’s never been a better time for Nick Saban, the only coach to win college football national championships with two different programs (LSU in 2003, Bama in ’09, ’11 and ’12), to go for a third. In the past week, photos of a house in Lakeway that Saban’s realtor-wife Terry has allegedly bought have surfaced on the Internet. I mean, Bama Brown of KVET posted it, and his name is BAMA!
The richest plantation in college sports would make Saban college football’s first Six Million Dollar Man.
When DeLoss Dodds retired last month, Mack Brown lost his biggest supporter. The odds of Mack Brown coaching Texas next year are about the same as Ryan O’Neal taking the reins of the Ransom Center. Even if Texas beats heavily favored No. 10 Oregon in the Alamo Bowl Dec. 30, they’ll end up 9-4. And 10-win seasons are the standard, which Mack Brown set, at Texas these days.
If Earl Campbell has his way (which, as the only monument with his own golf cart, he doesn’t), former Texas All-American safety Jerry Gray, now making about 800 large as Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator, will become the Horns’ first African-American head football coach.
But it’ll be Saban, I think. Basing this hunch on little more than the weekend I spent in Tuscaloosa a few years back. T-loose has all the bad things about a college town and gets nothing cool out of being a liberal outpost in a beet-red state. If Alabama Shakes are on tour, there goes the music scene.
The Sabans have been married since he was 20 and his wife was 19. It’ll be 42 years on Dec. 18. They’ve never stayed any place too long, in the past 15 years going from Michigan State to LSU to the Miami Dolphins (where Saban had his only losing season as coach, in 2006) to Alabama. It’s time for another change of scenery. And Saban, of Croat descent from West Virginia, has said that the only place he’d go after Alabama was Texas.
It hasn't been officially announced — and things can always change — but when Texas fields a team next year, they’ll be the Croatians 11.