The news everyone expected out of Austin finally dropped on Sunday with Mack Brown officially stepping down as head coach at Texas. Brown's departure creates an opening at one of the most coveted jobs in college football.
Given the Longhorns' resources, the number of candidates not on the table are few and far between. While new Texas athletic director Steve Patterson sifts through stacks of resumes, we'll offer up some thoughts on a few of the more likely candidates.
First up is a coach from one of UT's chief competitors in the Big 12.
Candidate: Mike Gundy
Current job: Oklahoma State head coach
Strengths: Gundy got off to a rocky start in Stillwater, but he has turned Oklahoma St. into one of the most consistent winners in the country (41-10 overall since 2010). His teams generally perform above their talent level. He has a deserved reputation as an offensive tactician. The number of Gundy's former staff members who have gone on to head coaching jobs shows he has a nose for coaching talent.
Weaknesses: Gundy can be standoffish, if not downright antagonistic, with the media. He has made power plays within the OSU athletic department that could scare off some potential suitors. Some critics might dredge up his tenuous involvement in the SI "scandals" within the OSU football program, although he seems to have escaped with little damage to his reputation. Also, Gundy's struggles against Oklahoma might Burnt Orange Nation of the coach whom they just shown the door.
Why Texas would hire Gundy:
Gundy really hit the college football scene in 2007 with his (in)famous rant, but plenty has changed about this man since he was 40. Primarily, he has built his program into one of the Big 12's best and a mainstay in the national rankings. His resume includes a conference title, a BCS bowl win and a near miss at playing for the national championship in 2011.
Brown wore out his welcome by doing less with more. Gundy would be the diametric opposite. Although the Cowboys have recruited better as of late, the whole always comes off looking greater than the sum of its parts with Gundy's squads. Who knows what he could do with the embarrassment of riches that make up the typical Texas recruiting class? (Keep in mind that he already knows the recruiting terrain, too.)
Why Texas wouldn't hire Gundy:
On the "College Football Coach Paranoia" scale, Gundy rates a solid 7.5 out of 10. How would he handle the media obligations and intrusiveness of the Longhorn Network?
More importantly, the ego element at play here could end up scuttling Gundy's candidacy. Frankly, Bevo's shot callers love to put on airs, and they pride themselves on on at least maintaining the perception that Texas is a leader, not a follower. Poaching a coach from within the Big 12 doesn't really fit with that image.
Gundy doesn't have the flash of a Nick Saban or a Gus Malzahn, but Texas would have a hard time finding a better coach than OSU's head Poke. His track record speaks for itself, and there would be no learning curve for him entering the Big 12.
Ultimately, though, don't look for a Gundy-Texas courtship to get too far. Gundy did a similar dance with Tennessee a year ago and won some major concessions to go along with a pay raise at OSU. Mega-booster T. Boone Pickens might not appreciate another dalliance. Gundy's name will probably stay connected to the job as pundits trade rumors and speculation, but don't count on it going much farther than that.