Enjoy it A&M; enjoy the newfound fame, College Gameday, national attention, the SEC, Heisman trophies, BCS, enjoy all of it. No seriously, enjoy it. A&M played a calculated shrewd hand to move to the best conference, with the most passionate fan bases in the country, the SEC. It was brilliant. A&M put itself through a veritable Extreme Makeover College Football Edition to set itself apart from its old frienemies and to start over. I remember riding down the elevator at the hospital after my second son was born with a gentleman who noticed my A&M t-shirt, this during the initial A&M to SEC talk of 2010. He apparently was a UT alum and he apparently couldn’t waste this opportunity to tell me about how A&M was turning its back on 100 years of history and shame on them or us or whoever. I tried to find an escape hatch to climb the cable up the shaft like I’d seen Die Hard but alas, no such luck. I just smiled and waited till he was done, then I said what I really believed, “Moving to the SEC would be the only way A&M will ever move out of UT’s shadow.” I was right, for now. A&M has enjoyed a season and a quarter as the prettiest girl at the dance, but history matters and Texas will come roaring back.
The Made Guys
There are a very view programs in the country that will cause any coach or administrator to pause, drop everything, and pick up the phone should they call. Some are old money, some are new money, some are just lots of money, but there are very few made guys in college football. I will list them. Your school probably isn’t on it. You are disappointed. So am I. In no particular order, those schools are Ohio State, Oregon, Florida, Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma, and the University of Texas.
There are several school peering in at this group through the window, hoping to hang out with the cool kids and then there are a ton of schools who can’t even dream of peering through that window. What do they have in common? For these few schools it begins with money, facilities, tradition, recruiting ties, athletic friendly administrations, and the ability to move the needle at ESPN, Fox Sports, CBS, et al. Texas sits at the head of the table, ordering shrimp, drinking whatever they want, not caring about the price, and they’ll order dessert whether they’ve saved room or not.
Texas sits in one of the most desirable metropolitan areas of the country with incredible facilities and the means to build more, smack dab in the greatest high school recruit hunting grounds ever conceived. They have a network and fiscal structure that ensures they’ll be among the haves as long as they want to be. In 2011-12 the Horns pocketed $77 million dollars. That’s $16 million more than No. 2 Michigan, $25 million more than No. 3 Georgia, and No. 4 Florida. That’s pajama rich money. That’s F.U. money. That’s "we don’t become irrelevant" money.
Today if Texas called any conference in the world, including the English Premier League, that conference would cut them a deal to, please, please, pretty please, let us in.
Today if Texas called any conference in the world, including the English Premier League, that conference would cut them a deal to, please, please, pretty please, come join us. People complain about disparate treatment and revenue between Texas and the rest of the Big 12. The reality is there would be no Big 12 without UT. Those ESPN/ABC and Fox Sports dollars wouldn't exist either. Nebraska couldn't understand all that, now they're sentenced to play in the Big 10.
The Big 12 is part of the draw. The Big 12 Champion gets all the perks of the plus one without the necessity of a conference championship game slip up. Only Notre Dame is better positioned.
Still don’t believe me? Do you like your coach? UCLA, you like Jim Mora Jr.? Nebraska you like whichever Pelini brother you have? Penn State, you enamored with what Bill O’Brien is doing? Oklahoma State, you enjoying Mike Gundy? And yes you A&M, you really in love with Kevin Sumlin? If Texas called any of them, they’d answer and book a flight to Austin in the hopes that UT might make them an offer.
The truth stings doesn't it. I tell you how it is, others tell you how it might be. That’s Sean Puffy Combs. He was a rapper kids.
The most popular shirt circulating around College Station this weekend was simple, “Keep Mack” in maroon on with white lettering. A few years ago that shirt would have been a wild dream. Today it is a reality. Back in the Mid 80's there were "Keep Fred" shirts trolling around the MSC, as in Fred Akers, as in keep him because this is the golden age of A&M football.
Mack has struggled the last 3 years. He’s shown all the classic signs of a coach who’s grasping. After the 2009 National Championship Game, Brown's gone through coordinators, coaches, and quarterbacks trying to replicate the alchemy that made the Longhorns champions.
After the 2009 National Championship Game, Brown's gone through coordinators, coaches, and quarterbacks trying to replicate the alchemy that made the Longhorns champions.
He’s parted ways with Greg Davis; perhaps the popular move at UT since deciding burnt orange wouldn’t look too shabby. He’s seen defensive coordinators go to Iowa State, the NFL, and leave a coach in waiting position to land in Gainesville. He’s gone to from Boise to Bama to find an offensive coordinator. He’s turned over his staff, his strength coaches, and watched Garrett Gilbert and Connor Wood leave to play elsewhere. He’s been unjustly criticized for passing on Luck, RGIII, Johnny Football and now Jameis Winston. Last week he fired his defensive coordinator, this week he brought in another one. Last week offensive coordinator Major Applewhite was on the field, against Ole Miss he was in the booth. Whatever it takes.
“It” hasn’t worked for a while. Now the powers that be, and certainly Mack, can see what’s happening in College Station, Waco, Norman, Stillwater, and Fort Worth and it’s just about time to restore the natural order. There is a pecking order and as we’ve said Texas has the brand and they aren’t about to let it slip further, even if it means replacing an iconic coach who brought glory back to Austin. Texas is about to make its move.
Truckload of Cash
There is a theory in college football that certain schools can make a phone call, offer to back up a truck load of cash, and can get whoever they want. At Texas the theory is about to be put into practice. The truckload isn’t just for the head coach; he’ll be able to bring in the highest paid staff in college football. Mack Brown makes over $5 million per year. That’s more than any other college coach except Saban, more than Stoops, Meyer, Miles, or even Kirk Ferentz. Holy crap Iowa, you’re overpaying your coach. His staff is the second highest compensated after Alabama’s. That’s all about to change. The next coach at Texas will make top 10 NFL money, probably in the 6-7 million dollar range if not more.
So who should be looking in their driveway for giant truck full of cash? Pick somebody. Even among the made guys, pick somebody, anybody. They’re all in play. Texas will have their pick. This is why the Will Muschamp "coach in waiting" idea seemed so foreign. Had that played out as planned, there’s not telling who Texas would have missed out on for the temporary security of a stable defensive coordinator. I mean have you seen Florida's offense? Woof!
Pick somebody. Even among the made guys, pick somebody, anybody. They’re all in play. Texas will have their pick.
So, pick somebody, I guarantee you, unless it's Vince Lombardi, Texas has a shot. We however have some thoughts for our friends in Austin.
Nick Saban: I know sacrilege; Bama fans would revolt if they knew what that word meant. Just remember, a few coaches ago your guy left to come to A&M. Don’t think Nick won’t consider the Lone Start state. There is already tons of speculation that Saban is making a move which, to be honest, makes us think there is less of a chance of this happening. The other issue is that Nick is about to be 62. Alabama may be his last stop, but Texas would get right of first refusal. Nick would win titles in Austin. He'd LOVE the Big 12.
James Franklin: Who? James Franklin. He’s at Vanderbilt and he’s had unprecedented success even with the academic constraints of the University. He was a coach in waiting at Maryland but jumped ship. He would recruit like a madman in Austin. He’s smart, photogenic, and he made the University of Tennessee worry that they were losing ground in their home state. If you can coach at Vandy and make SEC teams reschedule their homecoming dates, that’s a major accomplishment.
Art Briles: Oh no Baylor fans, I’ve gone and done it. Think Art won’t drive down 35? The bigger question should be, why would UT be interested. I’ll tell you, he’s won everywhere he’s been - from Stephenville to Houston to Baylor. Briles radiates swagger, so much so that he’s got Baylor thinking they can win the Big 12 and go to a BCS game. You know what's crazy? They can. Think back to 1998 or even 2008 and tell me what Art Briles has done at Baylor isn’t the real Miracle on the Brazos.
Chris Peterson: Quite frankly I don’t love this pick, but everyone else is going to throw his name around. Boise has picked on the WAC and now the Mountain West to make its name. Sure they beat Oklahoma in a BCS game, let’s be honest, who hasn’t? Get that hand up UConn. His name will come up until, like Dan Hawkins or Dirk Koetter he leaves. Try and find those guys today without Wikipedia or a compass.
Chip Kelly: Wait…what? He’s coaching the Eagles their Bud, you know from the N.F.L. You’re right, but as we’ve covered here, Chip is better served in the college game where he can drive around to local high schools to pick and choose the cogs that fit his offensive system. Spurrier, Saban, Holtz, Petrino, Butch Davis, Dennis Erickson all made the move to the NFL and all found the grass was greener on the collegiate side. Chip will be back. Will it be in a year? Doubtful, but Chip Kelly is in play.
Texas is the don of made guys. They make more money, have a better location, more exposure, can compete with anyone when it comes to facilities, and they can walk into any living room in the country and dazzle recruits. They’ve let A&M, Oklahoma State, and TCU have their fun, and now its time to be Texas again. When the guy at the head of the table makes his move everyone takes note.