By Jess Nicholas, TideFans.com Editor-In-Chief
Dec. 10, 2013
Mack Brown is set to retire from the University of Texas by week’s end, ESPN reported Tuesday, an act that would set into motion one of the most high-stakes versions of the college coaching carousel seen in recent years.
TideFans.com and other outlets reported last week that Alabama and Nick Saban were close on a contract extension that would raise Saban’s annual salary to more than $6 million per year and lock him up through the end of his coaching career. But over the weekend, a flurry of media reports out of Texas had Saban being courted heavily by the Longhorns, despite Texas officials denying the claims.
On Tuesday, sources close to The University of Alabama reiterated to TideFans.com that Alabama expects Saban’s contract extension and raise to be finalized soon.
The catalyst for all major job-changing rumors right now seems to be Brown. Several sources close to the Texas situation say the school’s Board of Regents is split between backing Brown or looking for a new coach. Despite winning the national championship in 2005, the Longhorn program has fallen back a step or two in the seasons sense. Many Longhorn fans have become dissatisfied with what they feel is a pattern of soft play, poor defense and the inability to compete with more physical teams.
However, to date there has not been sufficient leverage gained by Brown opponents to force him out of Austin. A season-closing, 30-10 loss to Baylor, though, may have been the final nail.
Observers of the Texas situation say the decision to make a change at the top is Brown’s and Brown’s alone. ESPN reported that Brown wanted to speak with his team first, and would likely not step down until or after the Texas team football banquet, scheduled for Friday.
TideFans.com has long maintained, based on information from those close to the Texas program, that even with Brown stepping down, Texas’ preferred option for a replacement may not be Nick Saban. Information received Tuesday suggested Texas might look to the NFL for its replacement for Brown. While the St. Louis Rams’ Jeff Fisher and San Francisco ’49’ers’ Jim Harbaugh frequently find their names coming up in connection with various college jobs, the Baltimore Ravens’ John Harbaugh may also be a target.
Meanwhile, it is unclear what affect, if any, Brown’s announcement would have on contract negotiations between Saban and Alabama, either in the amount of salary Saban would receive or the timing of any announcements.