With Mack Brown clearly closing in on the end of his coaching career and Alabama setting up residence at the top of college football’s food chain, rumors of Nick Saban leaving Tuscaloosa for Austin were bound to get fired up at some point.
Enter Ty Duffy of The Big Lead, who posited in an article published Friday that the move is “more plausible than you might think,” according to “multiple college football sources.” TBL even ginned up an image of Nick Saban wearing a Longhorns polo to give the college football world an idea of what such an unholy union might actually look like if it were to come to fruition.
To me, this sounds more like a college football flight of fancy conjured up after one too many tequila shots at conference media days than a legit scenario. Scipio Tex of Barking Carnival does a great job of explaining why.
But, if we’re dealing in the fantastic: I hope to hell there are legs to this.
For starters, I’d love to see this happen for the simple reason that Saban represents just about everything that the University of Texas claims to despise. The Longhorns fetishize the NCAA rules; meanwhile, Saban defines “loose constructionist,” and his aggressive roster management philosophy makes a mockery of the notion of student-athletes.
More than just the hypocrisy of it all, though, I think it would be great for OU football.
I’ve written before about how Texas’ struggles on the field are inadvertently hurting the quality of OU’s product. Fair or not, when a flagship brand like Texas struggles, it diminishes the perception of the entire Big 12. It may be fun to watch the Sooners repeatedly abuse UT on those October Saturdays in the Cotton Bowl. With every touchdown and hurdled would-be tackler, however, the overall reputation of the Big 12 takes a big hit. (To be fair, OU has had its own hand in this, courtesy of some big game busts.)
With the SEC owning the national spotlight, the Big 12’s recruiting base is starting to look eastward. As such, Texas’ slide towards mediocrity couldn’t be more poorly timed.
Who better to get Texas back on course than Saban?
From a rivalry standpoint, I understand why the combination of one of college football’s greatest coaches with Texas’ recruiting ground and resources doesn't sound fun. Kicking the tar out of Bevo looks a whole lot less likely when you sub in Saban for Mack Brown on the sidelines. The prospect of the Longhorns standing on that podium in January hoisting the crystal ball (or whatever we’ll get next) seems far too real.
Yet, I also remember what it was like when DeLoss Dodds hired Mack at Texas back in 1998. The general consensus was that he was the perfect choice to take UT football back to the top of the mountain. He immediately started reeling in elite recruits from around the country and quickly developed one of the most talented rosters in college football. That really hasn’t changed in the last 15 years.
Of course, Oklahoma hired Bob Stoops in 1999 and has essentially owned the Red River rivalry ever since. It’s still a pattern that has repeated itself in the past: The Longhorns punch, the Sooners counterpunch.
While fans obsess over dynasty-building and hoarding hardware, college football writ large tends to operate under the guiding principle that iron sharpens iron. Competition forces innovation and evolution to keep up. Look no farther than Saban's current home, the SEC, for proof.
So, if there's anything I can do to help make this happen, DeLoss, let me know.