All things considered, this will not end well. On any level.
Over the past several years, even prior to Texas’ middling on-field play the past three seasons, the speculation has gone that, once Mack Brown retires or is forcibly shown the door, UT officials will make an all-out effort to hire Nick Saban as its next head football coach. Never mind that it’s a laughable proposition to even think Saban would consider leaving the best job at the FBS level for the cash-rich Longhorns; that’s been the rumor buzzing across many a message board and even amongst some in the media.
Thursday, however, brought a new development to what’s previously been nothing more than nameless, faceless Internet rumormongering.
Speaking on the record to the Associated Press (for some reason), current UT regent Wallace Hall confirmed that he had spoken to Saban’s agent in the days after the Tide’s most recent BCS title this past January about Saban replacing Brown. A former regent, Tom Hicks, was also on the call. Hicks is the brother of current regent Steve Hicks, and Tom Hicks played a pivotal role in hiring his good friend Brown away from North Carolina in 1997.
What’s unclear is whether UT initiated the contact or if it was Saban’s agent, Jimmy Sexton.
What is clear, at least in Hall’s eyes, is that he was contacted by an unidentified person about meeting Sexton, with that information passed on to UT officials.
“I notified then-chairman Gene Powell, who then informed vice chairman and athletic liaison Steve Hicks, which resulted in a conference call with Mr. Sexton,” Hall wrote to the AP in a statement. “Introductions were made and then I withdrew from the process.”
Tom Hicks reportedly met with Brown and asked the coach about the possibility of retiring. The AP writes that Brown “said he wanted to keep coaching and the matter was dropped.”
Steve Hicks confirmed to the AP that, before the matter was dropped, the conversations revealed by Hall all indeed took place.
“Wallace Hall brought this to the chairman and myself. Nothing was authorized by the board and the chairman and myself thought the board should not be involved,” Steve Hicks said. “Tom and Mack are friends and talk often. They simply visited and just talked the idea through. It was dropped and nothing happened … It was a short conversation.”
After that January conversation, Hall said, he had no further contact with Sexton. The regent added, though, he does not know if others affiliated with UT have or haven’t been in contact with the agent.
Again, there should be little or no worry on the part of either the university or Tide Nation that the 61-year-old Saban would leave Tuscaloosa for Austin. What this does ensure, however, is that if/when Brown is canned and thanks to this report, rumormongers will have concrete, on-the-record proof of UT’s interest in the man who’s building the preeminent football program at the FBS level.