The Texas Longhorns coaching search is seemingly rather without direction on Friday evening with the news earlier in the day that neither Art Briles nor Jim Mora are candidates any longer for the open head football position in Austin.
What happened with Briles?
Well, it fits with the Statesman report from Wednesday about Briles' willingness to take the job, but is certainly taken by the Baylor side as spin, for reasons that are easily arguable.
Why would Briles want to take the risk of the being interviewed and then not get the job? And why would Patterson risk such an important hire on a coach who didn't want to go through that interview process?
Right now, Briles can tell recruits he turned down Texas, instead of having a future Texas coaching staff potentially using an interview and lack of job offer against him.
Orangebloods is also reporting that the Longhorns didn't offer the job to either coach, the type of information that could easily be spin from the Texas side, but given that neither coach actually interviewed, makes sense.
Another report from ESPN contradicted that belief:
UCLA's Jim Mora was offered Texas job but turned it down @AdamSchefter reports— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) January 4, 2014
At a certain point, the discussion is one of semantics since the end result was the same for both coaches -- neither one will end up at Texas.
With Mora and Briles now out of the picture, Alabama's Nick Saban seemingly out of the picture after finally signing his contract extension, and Florida State's Jimbo Fisher having just signed his own extension that had been in the works for some time, Texas could have to circle back to Vanderbilt's James Franklin and Louisville's Charlie Strong, the two candidates that athletics director Steve Patterson has already interviewed, but have appeared to be down further on his list.
The Statesman is reporting that Florida State's Jimbo Fisher and Louisville's Charlie Strong are still the top candidates, while Orangebloods has Strong and Franklin, for the above-mentioned reason that they have already interviewed.
Some coaching dominoes could impact all that though -- Franklin and Miami's Al Golden have been rumored to be in the mix for the Penn State coach. If Golden takes the job, then Charlie Strong's Florida ties could make him appealing to Miami.
It's possible that one of both of those coaches won't be available to Texas by Tuesday, when Texas could know where Fisher stands.
And if Strong starts to feel like he's not the top candidate or even in the top tier after not being in contact with officials from Texas in the last several days, could that cause him to turn down the job if Patterson decides he wants Strong as his football coach?
Meanwhile, the Gruden to Texas nonsense being pushed by Red McCombs and whomever else hit a tongue-in-cheek type of mass appeal on Twitter when the phrase #GrudentoTexas trended on Twitter in Austin during the evening.
Tweets like this don't help:
An industry source on Texas coaching search today: "Don't rule anything out."— Chuck Carlton (@ChuckCarltonDMN) January 4, 2014
Well then, keep on keeping on with the Gruden to Texas nonsense if that's appealing. And throw in some more Nick Saban nonsense, since he doesn't have a buyout and the Statesman is reporting that some Texas officials haven't given up hope on that front.
If Patterson wants to wait to make a decision until after gauging the interest of Fisher next Tuesday following Monday's national championship game, that will leave him with eight days to find a new head coach before the end of the recruiting dead period eight days into the coaching search.
Unless some new names surface, it seems as if Texas is looking at a Hail Mary to Jimbo Fisher until there's any type of clarity here unless Patterson wants to settle on Strong or Franklin.
With so much time left before any impact is even felt in recruiting in a class that the new staff should mostly hold together and that doesn't really have much of a chance turn around with anyone short of Saban or Fisher and it's clear that Patterson needs to take his time and make the right hire, no matter how long it takes.
A search like that should probably include an interview with at least one other candidate, perhaps a coach like Wisconsin's Gary Andersen.