The Texas athletic department is bracing for change. University president Williams Powers Jr. will spend this week organizing his search to replace athletic director DeLoss Dodds. The new AD will likely have to make decisions regarding the future of football coach Mack Brown and basketball coach Rick Barnes, and could soon be searching for replacements. If Brown and Barnes don’t stick around in Austin, here’s a breakdown of the leading candidates for the three slots.
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Top five candidates to become Texas’ next football coach
1. Nick Saban, Alabama. He’s the top choice. No question. Getting him will also require recruiting his wife, Terry Saban.
2. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma. Don’t laugh. No one has had a better look at Stoops’ Big 12 dominance than the Longhorns. Imagine him recruiting with all of Texas’ resources.
3. Charlie Strong, Louisville. His SEC pedigree and his ability to bring toughness to the program would be ideal. (The Longhorns could afford his $5 million buyout, too). Still, Texas has never had an African-American head coach in a men’s sport.
4. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern. He spurned interest from Michigan and Penn State. But would a job outside of the Big Ten intrigue him? (Fitzgerald is probably a better fit here than at USC.)
5. Bill O’Brien, Penn State. He revived a prominent brand through strong coaching and toughness. Could it happen again?
*Baylor’s Art Briles could work his way onto this list, as the Bears look like the class of the Big 12. The only problem? He’ll be 58 in December.
**Boise State’s Chris Petersen could win big in Austin. But the job’s off-field obligations make him an awkward fit.
***So much of this list could change when the new athletic director is hired. It’s hard to gauge exactly what the Longhorns are looking for before a new AD is in place.
Top five candidates to become Texas’ next athletic director
1. Oliver Luck, West Virginia. Luck’s business background with NFL Europe and MLS are important. So is his Texas law degree. With the school expected to replace its basketball arena, the Erwin Center, in next 10 years, Luck’s experience securing BBVA Compass Stadium for the Houston Dynamo would help.
2. Tom Jurich, Louisville. He’s considered one of the best in the business, and his teams have reflected that reputation of late. Jurich is more of a traditional athletic director, however, which could make him less attractive to Texas. (A package deal with Cardinals coach Strong could loom.)
3. Steve Patterson, Arizona State. He’s not a high-profile name, but his candidacy is real. And that’s not only because he graduated from Texas as an undergrad and law student. Patterson’s time as senior vice president and chief development officer for the NFL’s Houston Texans fits the business/football background that Texas officials will likely seek.
4. Joe Castiglione, Oklahoma. Want to make a Sooner fan’s head explode? Mention a Stoops-Castiglione package deal to Austin.
5. John Currie, Kansas State. Folks in the Big 12 have been impressed with Currie’s ability to do more with less at Kansas State. He’s only 42. Texas likely won’t have to go this far down the list to find someone willing to accept arguably the most coveted AD job in the country.
*Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby and Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick have been mentioned publicly as potential candidates. Don’t expect either to show interest.
Top five candidates to become Texas’ next basketball coach
1. Buzz Williams, Marquette. All he’s done at Marquette is win. His strong Texas ties make him an obvious frontrunner.
2. Shaka Smart, VCU. He may get the call before Williams. Smart is happy at VCU, but could this be an opportunity that tempts him?
3. Mark Turgeon, Maryland. The Maryland job in the ACC is a whole lot different than the Maryland job in the Big Ten. Turgeon is a proven winner in the Big 12 from his time at Texas A&M.
4. Gregg Marshall, Wichita State. He would energize a program that’s gone stale. Marshall is the opposite of Rick Barnes in seemingly every way.
5. Chris Mack, Xavier. He has won big at Xavier, but Texas likely won’t have to go this far down its list.
*Arizona’s Sean Miller is a potential early call on this list, but he’s unlikely to jump from Tucson.