Remarkably, the Longhorns have yet to go through a coaching search in the internet era. Sure maybe a few of them found out about Mack Brown being picked over Gary Barnett over ICQ back in '97, but this is uncharted territory for them. So with that, us here at Good Bull Hunting would like to help you out in any way that we can because we've been through this far more often than we'd like to admit. I can remember being in grad school furiously refreshing bulletin board sites to find out whether we were going to land Dennis Franchione. I can remember being at work reading a bulletin board moderator say in no uncertain terms that Mike Sherman was going to be our next coach. And I can remember vividly hearing rumors that Sumlin had talked to his players and was on his way to Aggieland.
We've been through this process many a time. And its with that in mind, I've got the following advice to give you.
1) Let go of Saban
I don't have an opinion as to whether or not it was going to happen or not, but the fact is it didn't. Saban's name is still being thrown out on message boards as a possibility. Let me help you. Nick Saban is never going to be the coach of the Texas Longhorns.
We all have our white whales. Jimmy Johnson was looking for houses in College Station long before Terry Saban ever thought to close on a house in Spanish Oaks. But it's time to let go.
2) Money isn't as much of a motivator as you'd like it to be
Dan Pink, author of the book "Drive-The Surprising Truth of What Motivates Us" has a great lecture about the use of reward structures as a motivator. Seriously, watch the entire thing and consider it from the perspective of a coaching search.
The main quote that I want to focus on here is the following:
Fact: Money is a motivator, at work. But in a slightly strange way if you don't pay people enough they won't be motivated. What's curious about, there's another paradox here which is the best use of money as a motivator is to pay people enough to take the issue of money off the table.
Fascinating, no? The point I want to make here is yes, you can afford to pay any coach whatever you want to pay them. But money is not enough to drive a coach's interest in your program. There has to be another reason to be interested--something that they can do at Texas that they could not do at their current institution besides make a ton of money.
Ask yourself...Malzahn is about to be in the national title game, and loses very little from his team next year. Why leave that gig to take over a (at least) 2 year rebuild process at UT? What can he do at UT that he cant do (or isnt currently doing) at Auburn?
Money is not as much of a motivator as you hope for it to be.
3) Understand History
I know that Texas is considered to be a cut above most other "blue bloods" of college football, but rarely (if ever) does a coach leave one top tier position for another. It just doesn't happen. Let's take a look at the top programs (based on wins) and from where they got their last coach:
Michigan-Brady Hoke from SDSU
Texas-Mack Brown from North Carolina
Notre Dame-Brian Kelly from Cincinnatti
Nebraska-Bo Pelini, DC at LSU
Ohio State-Outlier with Urban Meyer but remember, they pulled him from retirement, not from another school
Oklahoma-Bob Stoops, DC at Florida
Alabama-Outlier with Nick Saban wanting to get out of the pros and back into the college game.
Tenneessee-Butch Jones from Cincinatti
Southern California-Steve Sarkisian--money was not the motivator here, history and connection to the school was
Georgia-Mark Richt, OC at Florida State
Historical trends don't support the notion of a coach of a top-tier program leaving for another. So as much as you'd love to have Urban Meyer on your campus, it's likely not going to happen.
4) Temper your expectations and be realistic
On the first part, I'm going to share a few tweets by Jeremy Anthony (@JeremyAnthony), who absolutely nailed how most coaching searches go.
Refresher for those of you new to coaching hires: 1. Big school overrates attractiveness. 2. List of huge names leaks. 3. List is trimmed...— Jeremy Anthony (@JeremyAnthony) December 9, 2013
4. New list has a curious name. No way he's the guy, that guy sucks, they'll say. 5. List trimmed again. Shitty name still there.— Jeremy Anthony (@JeremyAnthony) December 9, 2013
6. Shitty name hired. /fin— Jeremy Anthony (@JeremyAnthony) December 9, 2013
And when I say "Shitty name", it's all relative. If your list has 5 national champion coaches with great jobs on it, name 6 is your man.— Jeremy Anthony (@JeremyAnthony) December 9, 2013
And shitty name is relative, so be realistic. I saw a list by a horn site that listed David Shaw (who by the way is not going to be the head coach at UT--my opinion) as a tier 2 candidate. LOLWUT?!?!?! That kind of thinking is just setting yourself up for a huge huge HUGE emotional letdown. You cannot get who you want simply by wanting them. No school can regardless of how much money they can spend.
5) There are many many many good coaches out there
Not landing Nick Saban or Urban Meyer is not the end of the world. Fact is that there are plenty of coaches out there without that level of name recognition that can do a damn good job at UT. I hear so often that UT has so many built in resources that any coach worth their salt should be able to win and win big. Then why the hell is it "big name or bust"? Why does the thought of a guy like Jim Mora Jr. disappoint you? Are you really going to immediately dismiss Art Briles because of his overall record without taking into consideration the state of the programs he took over (note-Art Briles is probably not going to be your coach either)
You need to find a guy who can fit your culture and add excitement to a stale program. There are many coaches out there who can do that.
6) Embrace the unknown
You are about to enter into the most fun offseason you've ever had because everything is new. New coordinators, new recruits, new attitude, new press conferences...everything. Embrace it. No you have no idea how this is going to work out. The next coach could be your Coach Fran (god willing) and lead you down a river of shit into the wildnerness. But I'll tell you right now, you'll embrace every gimmicky night of champions thing that that coach puts together because it's new. It's fresh. And it's exciting. And after the last few years, new, fresh, and exciting (regardless of the outcome) kind of sounds nice, no?
I love the coaching carousel. I love the dominoes that fall and the fact that schools work hard to find the guy who's going to reinvent the school's image and create a future that they never thought possible (good or bad). It's a fascinating time for you all, and there's a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it. The right way includes the above advice.
I welcome any comments you might have. Cheers!