The hot name on Thursday connected to the supposedly open Texas Longhorns offensive coordinator position was Ohio State's Tom Herman after Texas fans became concerned on Wednesday about the possibility of Louisville offensive coordinator Shawn Watson following new head coach Charlie Strong from Louisville.
There wasn't anything credible out there on Twitter about Herman during the day, but the buzz around the edges was enough for reports to start coming out during the evening regarding Herman's candidacy, with two of particular importance:
I'm aware of #OSU OC Tom Herman-to-Texas rumors. I've been told that a different current college OC is at top of Charlie Strong's list.— Bill Rabinowitz (@brdispatch) January 9, 2014
In regard to the latter report, Rabinowitz added that he did not know the name of the other candidate.
And Ohio State folks are taking the statement from quarterback Braxton Miller about looking forward to playing for Herman and Urban Meyer as a sign that Herman is not going to leave Columbus, though that seems like the least telling of the three reports.
Herman was a graduate assistant at Texas and spent time at Texas State and Rice before helping Iowa State pull upsets over Texas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma State during his time in Ames. He was also hired by Urban Meyer on the recommendations of Mack Brown and Chip Kelly.
A two-point conversion decision against Purdue in which Herman overruled Meyer on the play call and ended up winning the game with his pass provides some anecdotal evidence that it isn't just Meyer's offense that has excelled in Columbus over the last two seasons.
Even if Herman is likely to stay at Ohio State, it raises the question of which offensive coordinator out there is above Herman on the list?
Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris still remains another possible candidate for that top position on Strong's list, though his buyout is a major impediment. By the language of the contract that he signed in 2011, Morris "must pay Clemson a buyout equal to the sum of his annual total compensation multiplied by the years remaining on his contract."
Since his contract runs through 2017 and he makes $1.3 million a year, the buyout would be $5.2 million this year.
If Morris is the guy that Texas wants, however, even the hefty buyout may not be enough to dissuade the Longhorns from cutting the check with a significant budget to work with to hire assistant coaches.
On the other hand, that's a lot of money to spend for an assistant coach who would be unlikely to give a commitment of more than two years since he's already a head coaching candidate.
Another coach with a Texas connection had their name thrown out there on Thursday evening:
If Kyle Shanahan can't land Dolphins OC job or other NFL job, he could become candidate for Longhorn OC job, source says.— kbohls (@kbohls) January 10, 2014
Shanahan was best friends with Chris Simms when the two were at Texas and Shanahan has Sims' initials tattooed on his ankle. So there's that.
From the football standpoint, Shanahan has been an offensive coordinator in the NFL since 2008, starting with the Houston Texans and then with the Washington Redskins, so he's very much of the Gary Kubiak-Mike Shanahan coaching tree.
Other names that sound intriguing and fit the profile of what Strong wants include Arizona State's Mike Norvell, Missouri's Josh Henson, and Oregon's Scott Frost.
Norvell is appealing because he has run a balanced offense at Arizona State and is a longtime disciple of Todd Graham -- he brings the spread chops without the baggage after following Graham from Tulsa to Pitt to Arizona State. An Irving, Texas native, Norvell hasn't coached in the state, but he did recruit the state while he was at Tulsa.
Even if Herman isn't interested in the job and the buyout for Morris is too high, the best news Thursday was the apparent confirmation that this search will indeed extend beyond Watson.