Personally, I don’t in any way, shape of form see it happening. However, Bovada.lv has a very intriguing name atop its list of potential replacements for Mack Brown at Texas.
According to the gambling website, Louisville head coach Charlie Strong is a prohibitive 2/1 favorite to move on to Austin and take on the task of leading the Longhorns. Strong is finishing up his fourth season with the Cardinals, and has seen his name connected to various high-profile openings during that time.
The Longhorns, however, are a different animal entirely. At UT, the head football coach is tasked with dealing with an intense media spotlight, which pales in comparison to the politics involved in the job. Strong hasn’t shown a penchant for suffering either tasks — and could be biding his time for the Florida job to come open — so his inclusion on any list let alone as the favorite is certainly head-scratching. Could Vegas know something most everyone else doesn’t? That’s entirely possible, but still seems highly unlikely.
At least in his talks with the media, Strong insists he’s not thinking about the UT speculation.
“I don’t even think about it,” Strong according to Jeff Greer of the Louisville Courier-Journal. “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.”
While that may appear to be a hedge of some sorts, Strong, the former Florida defensive coordinator, flat-out denied any interest to a member of the media in that part of the country.
Vegas has Charlie strong as top candidate at Texas. Talked to him yesterday and he had no interest.
— Pat Dooley (@pat_dooley) December 17, 2013
Three names that would be considered more likely on most levels immediately follow Strong: Baylor’s Art Briles (9/2), Vanderbilt’s James Franklin (5/1) and Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy (7/1). Of that trio, Briles and Gundy are the most intriguing, given their ties to the talent-rich recruiting fields of Texas. Not only would each be considered a home-run hire based on coaching ability alone, but would also serve to weaken a conference rival.
Two NFL coaches with recent success in the Pac-12 are also mentioned, with Chip Kelly and his show-cause at 10/1 and Jim Harbaugh at 20/1. The latter has already reportedly denied interest in the opening, while Kelly’s departure from Oregon and the NCAA cloud that would greet him upon his return to the collegiate level would seemingly make him a non-starter in UT’s search.
Asked directly about the Texas rumors, Kelly stated Monday that “I havent spoken to anybody, nor will I speak to anybody.”
Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, at 20/1, is the only other NFL head coach mentioned.
While Florida State fans won’t want to hear it, there are growing rumblings that Jimbo Fisher could be in play as well. The coach who replaced the legendary Bobby Bowden at FSU is listed with 15/1 odds by Bovada, with the media continuing to push him as a realistic replacement for Brown at UT.
The respected Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com is one of those who thinks more people should be paying attention to the burnt-orange smoke swirling around Fisher.
I’m surprised these odds aren’t stronger in Fisher’s favor. FSU dropped the ball not raising Fisher’s pay after last season. Will he remember that when UT calls? FSU has tried to ease concerns with a recent extension to $4.25 million per year, and my guess is the Seminoles will fight to keep their guy. Win or lose in Pasadena, Fisher’s roster for 2014 will be loaded and will be hard to leave.
Below is the complete list of odds, again courtesy of Bovada.lv: