clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Texas Longhorns AD search: Candidates to replace Steve Patterson

New, 52 comments

Sorting through the names already connected to the open position in Austin.

Bob Levey/Getty Images

Nearly two months of delberations by new president Greg Fenves resulted in the termination of Texas Longhorns athletic director Steve Patterson on Tuesday only 22 months into his tenure as the replacement for DeLoss Dodds.

Now Fenves faces the difficult task of navigating the complicated political landscape at the university, all while trying to make the right hire even though he is admittedly not especially familiar with athletics. Surely, there will be a search firm involved once again, likely Korn/Ferry International, the same firm that the Longhorns used to hire Patterson and head football coach Charlie Strong.

Given how things went after former president Bill Powers, the Board of Regents, and whatever other power brokers were involved reportedly ignored the search firm's recommendation to hire then-West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck, perhaps Fenves should take full advantage of that recommendation this time.

Here are some of the early names to surface as candidates (several courtesy of ESPN's Brett McMurphy):

Oliver Luck, NCAA executive VP for regulatory affairs

The seemingly no-brainer candidate to replace DeLoss Dodds in 2013, Luck moved on from his position as the athletic director at West Virginia late in 2014, opting to join the NCAA in an apparent attempt by the governing body to bridge the gulf between the NCAA and administrators.

So he's now working in Indianapolis for what is presumably an extremely high-paying job and can go see his son Andrew play quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts.

Patterson's quick demise at Texas raises questions of why the Longhorns passed on him in the first place. Here's one theory from Barking Carnival:

Oliver Luck came into the process with the assumption that this was a perfunctory tire-kicking to get sign off from all parties. His mission: don't lose the job. He would show deference to the greatness that is UT, be politically astute, do nothing incendiary or possibly offensive to any egos. A smart approach under most circumstances, particularly when dealing with a proud institution.

And a classic misreading of the room.

The committee - a perceptive bunch, and a group not exactly impressed with where Texas Athletics is right now - wanted an assertive, fearless assessment, a bold new course to address a stale bureaucracy more interested in self-preservation than the actual mission. Not a cautious toe dipped in the water, fear of being branded Kingslayer, and a desire for sign-offs from every living alumni before making substantive change. Luck also intimated that he'd prefer UT wield the sword on popular coaches - if necessary - before his arrival so that he wouldn't have to alienate any of the fan base and create division.

After Texas spurned him once and given the clear lack of job security in Austin, would Luck re-consider taking the job? It seems unlikely, but Fenves should at least give him a call.

Tom Jurich, Louisville athletic director

A popular name when Powers hired Patterson in November of 2013, Jurich now has a connection to Texas since he hired Charlie Strong away from Florida back in 2010. He also deserves credit as the type of visionary who compares favorably to Dodds, as he took a basketball school and convinced donors to help build the football program. Had he not been successful in doing so, Louisville likely wouldn't be in the ACC right now, instead languishing in the AAC or another lower-tier conference.

At one point, even Conference USA wanted to kick Louisville out. Instead, Jurich stabilized the program, hired high-profile coaches like Rick Petino and Bobby Petrino (twice), and saved the Cardinals program, earning the title of the "nation's best athletic director" from CBSSports.com in the process.

However, Jurich has been at Louisville since 1997 and has to have some proprietary feelings towards the school after all he's done for it. He might also hold a grudge against former Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds and the Big 12 after the conference declined to show much interest in Louisville during realignment:

"I got discouraged when the Big 12 didn't want us," he said. "When that fell apart, I thought 'Gosh darn, what are we missing?' I knew that we had everything. ... There are a lot of great people in there. I think there were a lot of people who did want us in there."

Regardless of the reasons why Jurich might want to stay, the prevailing thought coming out of Louisville is that Jurich isn't going anywhere:

A sourced denial of interest emerged from a local news outlet on Tuesday afternoon.

Mack Brown, ESPN analyst and former Texas head coach

Despite some widespread support from former players on Twitter, Brown told ESPN that he hasn't had any discussions with anyone about the position. However, two different sources told the Austin American-Statesman that Brown met with Fenves last week.

What gives? Brown isn't under consideration for the job, according to the Statesman (and other reports), and may have been in Austin merely to provide Fenves with some much-needed background on the landscape of Texas football and Texas athletics in general.

So don't expect Brown to end up as the boss to head football Charlie Strong, the man who replaced Brown less than two years ago.

Joe Castiglione, Oklahoma athletic director

Would Castiglione pull a Darrell K Royal and end up in Austin after leaving Norman? There is a connection, as Castiglione is close friends with DeLoss Dodds, but he seems like a fringe candidate, especially since the new president has no ties to former president Bill Powers or Dodds. Castiglione's track record is impressive -- his programs have won seven national championships at Oklahoma and he was responsible for hiring football coach Bob Stoops, he just seems like an extreme longshot.

Chris del Conte, TCU athletic director

Like Jurich, del Conte is well-regarded for his efforts in building the TCU program, helping the Horned Frogs return from the hinterlands of college sports and join the Big 12. He doesn't get to take credit for hiring head football coach Gary Patterson and his efforts to build the basketball program there are clealry ongoing, but he has helped oversee $250 million in construction projects at TCU, experience that would be extremely valuable at Texas.

However, on Tuesday afternoon he denied having any interest in the job, for whatever that's worth (typically not much):

Bob Bowlsby, Big 12 commissioner

Like Jurich, Bowlsby's name was one connected with the Texas opening two years ago, but just as it was implausible then, it's equally implausible now, with Bowlsby denying that he's a potential candidate on Tuesday afternoon:

Greg Byrne, Arizona athletic director

If the last name sounds familiar, it's because the current head of the Wildcats' athletic department is the son of former Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne, who earned the nickname $ Bill and near-universal scorn from Texas fans for his weekly posts and bumbling nature. But despite the negative perception of his father's time in College Station, Greg is considered a rising star among athletic directors.

Bryne becme the youngest athletic director in Division 1-A in 2008 and impressed the administration at Arizona quickly enough to earn that job in 2010. Since then, he's overseen significant renovations and construction across mulutiple porgrams and helped boost revenue for the baseball program by moving into a minor league ballpark. Wildcats baseball even won the national championship in 2012.

He's young and has been able to learn from his father's successes and failures, making him an intriguing candidate because of his youth, pedigree, and early successes.

Matthew McConaughey, actor and Texas alum

Try to say this wouldn't be a perfect fit:

Alright, alright, alright.