Top Potential Texas Football Head Coaching Candidates

Following a 23-20 loss to Iowa State on Friday, Texas was officially eliminated from Big-12 title contention, making Tom Herman’s seat as head coach turn from lukewarm to scorching hot. Texas is 76-60 overall since 2010, with Tom Herman being responsible for 18 of those losses in his four-plus year reign as head coach, with a 30-18 overall record.

Herman’s tenure with the program hasn’t been all bad, however. In 2018, Texas had a 10-4 record and beat 5th ranked Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. But an 8-5 record last season, and being eliminated from Big-12 title contention in the third to last regular-season game is not acceptable for a program like Texas. This isn’t Kansas.

Texas is one of the most prestigious college football programs of all time, right up there with the likes of Alabama, Michigan, Notre Dame, USC, Ohio State, and their arch-rival, Oklahoma. With a great tradition and home to the most talent-rich state in America, the Texas coaching job would be THE most attractive option in college football if available. Here is my list of the best potential coaching hires the Longhorns should make if they fire Tom Herman (And I think they should):

The popular hire: Urban Meyer

Urban Meyer has an insane 187-32 coaching record with three national championships to his name, two at Florida and one at Ohio State; all reasons why Texas & college football Twitter has been raving about a potential Meyer hiring for multiple weeks now. College football fans miss seeing Meyer on the sidelines, and Texas fans want the best coach possible at the helm of the program, so of course, the Meyer & Texas hype has grown, but is it a possibility?

Meyer has retired not once, but twice due to what he says are medical reasons, but something tells me he still gets that itch to return to coaching, and if a lucrative job like the one in Austin becomes available and comes calling, you’d be stupid not to listen. I see why the rumors are out there, and it makes sense, but there are two roadblocks in the way that could potentially put a screeching halt to the Meyer to Texas hype train. One on Meyer’s side, and one on Texas.

For Meyer, if the past two times he’s stepped away from college football is really due to his health, it could very easily keep him away, even if a job like Texas comes calling. You may be asking yourself, what possibly could keep UT from hiring Meyer? Many have questioned his off the field efforts as a coach, with multiple players being arrested during his time as the coach at Florida, and him being put on administrative leave by Ohio State in 2018 and eventually suspended for three games for not “upholding the values of the university” after reports surfaced that Meyer knew about sexual abuse allegations against assistant coach Zach Smith.

Meyer would EASILY be the man to right the Longhorns ship if he’s willing to return to college football, and if Texas is willing to have him.

The head coach that deserves a better coaching gig: Matt Campbell

Instead of clamoring about Urban Meyer, how about we focus on the man that just beat you? Campbell has a 68-42 head coaching record and has won the 2015 MAC coach of the year and 2017 & 2018 Big-12 coach of the year awards. He amassed a record of 35-15 at Toledo, making the team peak in 2015 during his tenure to being ranked 20th in the AP poll, and with wins over the Big-12 giants of Oklahoma and Texas this season, he has quickly turned Iowa State into a contender in the Big-12 in a short amount of time. Being 6th in Big-12 recruiting rankings in 2019 and 2020, one could only imagine what Campbell could do at Texas, who was first in the conference in recruiting in 2019 & 20, respectably.

Cyclones star running back Breece Hall said it perfectly after the Texas game in an interview:

It’s five-star culture versus five-star players

This is referring to how Campbell operates his program, or how the “Culture” he’s built is far more valuable and greater than the five-star talent Texas had. If Campbell had the opportunity to build the Texas program the way he built Toledo and Iowa State, WITH the ability to recruit top-notch talent, Texas very well could be national title threats in three years before hiring him.

The reunion: Mack Brown

For Texas fans, good therapy could involve re-watching the 2005 national championship game, arguably the best college football game EVER, when they beat USC due to a Vince Young 4th & 5 touchdown run and two-point conversion in the final minute. The head coach of that game? Mack Brown. The last time Texas made it to the national championship game? 2009 against Alabama, where an injury to Colt McCoy potentially changed the outcome of the game. Who was the coach? Mack Brown. Brown resigned after the 2013 season. Being the head coach for 14 years (1998-2013) Texas only had one losing season and had only THREE seasons with less than nine wins.

On November 27th, 2018, it was announced Mack would return to coach for the University of North Carolina (he coached for the Tar Heels from 1988-1997 before leaving for Texas). After a 3-9 finish in 2017, and a 2-9 record in 2018, Brown has successfully rebuilt the North Carolina program, leading the team to a 7-6 record in 2019, and had the Tar Heel’s ranked as high as the 5th ranked team in the nation this season. Could a potential buyout happen, and Texas try to capture some reunion magic with Mack Brown? It’s worked for North Carolina so far.

The sexy offensive coordinator hire: Steve Sarkisian

Sarkisian has a 47-35 head coaching record, but is arguably one of the best offensive coordinators in college football, and is definitely a guy to keep an eye on with head coaching jobs becoming available. Sarkisian started his coaching career at El Camino College in 2000 as a quarterbacks coach, and was hired by his former head coach, and then USC’s offensive coordinator, Norm Chow to be an offensive assistant for the team in 2001, and then a quarterbacks coach in 2002 and 2003.

He spent one season as the Quarterback coach for the Oakland Raiders, before returning to USC in 2005 under the title of assistant head coach. After replacing Lane Kiffin as USC’s offensive coordinator after he took the Raiders coaching job, Sarkisian was hired to be the Head coach at the University of Washington in 2009, his first-ever head coaching gig. In his first year as head coach, Washington upset Sarkisian’s former team, and 3rd ranked USC 16-13 thanks to a last-second field goal.

In his second season at Washington, the Huskies went 6-6 with yet another victory over USC. In his third and fourth seasons at Washington, Sarkisian went 7-6. In 2013 he got he led Washington to an 8-3 record before taking the head coaching job at USC in 2014. In 2015 Sarkisian was fired, but mostly due to his actions off of the field than on, being intoxicated at the facility multiple times, which led to him even missing a scheduled practice, and his assistants forcing him to go home one occasion. In 2016 Sarkisian was hired by Alabama as an analyst for their football team, and in 2017 & 18 he assumed the role of offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons before being fired.

He was hired back by Alabama in 2019 to be the team’s offensive coordinator, a job he still has, and actually has one win under his belt coaching-wise this season, against Auburn, filling in for Nick Saban who had to miss the game due to Covid-19 complications. Sarkisian is a brilliant offensive mind, who if he can stay on the straight and narrow, deserves a second chance to be a head coach. Will that chance be at Texas?

The sexy defensive coordinator hire: Brent Venables

Brent Venables is the best assistant coach/coordinator in college football in my opinion. After starting his coaching career at Kansas State, Venables was hired in 1999 by the University of Oklahoma, where he served as assistant head coach, defensive coordinator, and linebackers coach under Bob Stoops. In 2012, it was announced that Mike Stoops would return to Oklahoma as defensive coordinator, a position he last held in 2004. After hearing the news, Venables decided to accept the defensive coordinator position at Clemson, a position he still has today, with the addition of being the assistant head coach.

Venables is the big reason for Clemson’s recent success, as he’s a two-time national champion as a coordinator for the Tigers, winning the national championship in 2016 and 2018. In 2016 he also won the Broyles award for being the nation’s top assistant coach. Venables, like Sarkisian, is in a very cozy coordinator job, and it’s going to take the right situation to lure him away from Dabo Swinney and Death Valley. Could Brent Venables switch from Clemson Orange to Texas’s burnt orange?

The Dark Horse: Garrett Riley

I don’t know if this is me wanting more Red River Rivalry drama and a good storyline, or if I’m just crazy, but color me intrigued by this hire. Lincoln Riley’s younger brother, Garrett is currently the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at SMU, where they rank 15th nationally in total offense. Just for a reference, Texas is ranked 40th nationally in that mark.

Riley spent the 2013 and 2014 seasons at East Carolina before becoming an outside receivers coach in 2015. He played a pivotal role in helping receiver Zay Jones catch 98 passes for 1.009 yards in 2015, breaking the FBS record with 399 career catches. From 2016-2018 Riley was with the Kansas Jayhawks program, serving in multiple roles that included an analyst in 2016, and then a quarterbacks coach in 2017 and fullbacks in 2018. In 2019, Riley was the running back coach for the Appalachian State Mountaineers, as they went 13-1 and won the Sun Belt championship on the back of running back and Sun Belt offensive player of the year, Darrynton Evans, who had 1,250 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns en route to becoming a third-round selection by the Tennessee Titans.

Riley has shown to be very versatile in his young coaching career, coaching multiple positions, and has had success in those positions, grooming guys like Jones and Evans. If this season with former Texas quarterback Shane Buechele proves anything, it’s that Garrett Riley is one of the best and brightest young coaches in college football. At just 31 years of age, Riley could usher in a new era for Texas football.

Texas could probably do better than hiring a first-year coordinator from SMU to be their head coach, but could you imagine Lincoln Riley coaching against his brother Garrett for years to come??? The drama!! The Intrigue!!

So there you have it, my short little list of coaching candidates that Texas should consider if they fire Tom Herman. Hope you all enjoyed it!