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Reports: Texas could be closing in on deal with Shaka Smart

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The top target is crystal clear and there are now positive signs that the deal could get done.

Shaka Smart
Shaka Smart
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Texas Longhorns are in negotiations with VCU Rams head coach Shaka Smart to take the open position in Austin and hope to finalize a 5-year deal with him, according to Chip Brown of Horns Digest.

And Orangebloods reports that "coaches in Virginia are lining up to replace Smart" in anticipation of him leaving Richmond while Smart is trying to "get a feel for athletic director Steve Patterson," according to ESPN.

How close are the Horns to landing Smart? CBSSports.com describes Texas officials as "optimistic" enough that Smart turning down the job would be surprising.

Smart could ensure his comfort level by visiting Austin, which could happen as soon as Thursday, Brown reports. Asked about Smart during Wednesday's press conference, head football coach Charlie Strong had quite a reaction:

The reports represent the first significant development in a coaching search that otherwise slowed down markedly over the last 24 hours, though Smart's position as the top target remained unassailed over the last two days, even as Villanova Wildcats head coach Jay Wright and Virginia Cavaliers head coach Tony Bennett reportedly weren't interested in discussing the job opening.

It's also the first report to suggest that the two sides are actively working on a deal after VCU denied any contact between Texas athletic director Steve Patterson and its head coach after representatives for both sides were reportedly in discussions about the job earlier on Monday.

Has an interview happened? Would Smart even need to interview for the position to receive a job offer? Based on Brown's tweet, none of that was immediately clear, but the news does suggest that Texas could have its next head coach in place by Thursday or Friday after all if Smart decides to accept the offer that is apparently now on the table.

Smart made $1.57 million in 2014 and could be in line for a significant raise, even if Patterson still isn't willing to give Smart a contract above $3 million per season.