A&M Keeps Close Eye on Texas Situation

Even though the Aggies and Longhorns went their separate ways two seasons ago, the two schools are still direct competitors for talent riches in the lone star state. Thus, Texas A&M fans are closely watching the tense coaching situation in Austin, and Nick Saban rumors only make the situation more critical to the future of Aggie football.

If you don't want to spend your valuable time collecting every Mack Brown/Nick Saban rumor that is out there on the Internet, let me break it down for you. The Texas "insiders" are basically saying that Mack Brown has agreed to resign but the timing and how it will be done is the sticking point...and that today's leaked reports of his resignation didn't help matters and wasn't expected. But they seem to think that Brown will announce his resignation no later than the football banquet on Friday and possibly as early as Thursday at a scheduled bowl preparation press conference.

And even one rumor reported by Inside Texas suggests that Texas officials may unveil an orange-clad Nick Saban to the public. Several Texas sources are saying it's a done deal with Saban in terms of an agreement in principle with the big money donors in Austin. The only possible hiccup could be President Powers but they believe a scheduled Thursday Board of Regents meeting is already set-up to make Powers look weak and open the door for Mack's resignation.

That last part sounds far-fetched to me. I don't know what to think anymore. But I think it is clear that something is going on with Saban. For those people that bluntly say "it won't happen" aren't following the story closely. I'm not saying it will happen, but it's clear that the odds of Saban being the next Texas coach is greater than 0% and I'd say it's much greater than 0%.

With all due respect to the Alabama faithful, you have to look at the animal that is Nick Saban and his history and mode of operation. You can think that his heart is in Tuscaloosa and that the wife loves it in Alabama, but history and reality suggests that Saban has an ego and he pursues new challenges and greater financial opportunities.

Sure I think there's a good chance the Sabans bank another $3-4 million a year and stay in Tuscaloosa because we're talking Alabama football here, but there is also a chance he shuffles off to Texas if the Longhorns give him a financial deal he can't refuse. That's why this $30 million signing bonus rumor burnt orange Internet circles is intriguing. It will be the first college coaching contract of its kind. At age 62, Saban will value cash upfront, especially if the rumors of his struggling financial investments are true.

Then again, that could be just another of many bogus rumors. But with Saban conspicuously quiet the past few days during a critical recruiting period and so much persistent smoke, I don't think we can simply say this is Longhorn delusion. Oh, spend 10 minutes reading a Longhorn message board these last few days and you'll hear plenty of arrogance, and that arrogance has led these guys to jump the gun on this thing...but clearly Saban and his agent have signaled to Texas that at the very least they are in play and interested. Now, is it a negotiating ploy to squeeze out a few more million from Alabama, or is Saban seriously considering a deal that Texas fat cats feel he can't refuse? I don't know.

These next two days will be very interesting...and yes, this is a huge issue for Aggie fans on so many levels. If Saban goes to Texas, that means we'll get to see Kevin Sumlin earn his $5 MM salary on the recruiting trail. What he has done in recruiting these past two classes is impressive...but he did it with a weakened Texas and OU. Slocum recruited the state well in the 1990's when both Texas and OU were weak. Enter Mack Brown and Bob Stoops in the mid-to-late 1990's, and Slocum quickly fell to No. 3 in the pecking order in a matter of months if not weeks.

I'm not saying that will happen with Sumlin because times and circumstances are different. Sumlin has swag that Slocum didn't. Sumlin has facilities that Slocum didn't. Sumlin has a power conference for leverage that Slocum didn't. But, if this happens with Saban, Sumlin will need to show he can recruit against a strong Texas on the recruiting trail.

In addition, if Saban to Texas were to happen, it could signal the start of a shift in power not only within the SEC west division, but between the SEC and other conferences. The SEC will always be the most powerful football conference because of the fanbases and team following of each school and the resulting TV contract value, but even if Alabama were to slip from clearly the No. 1 program in the nation to "merely" a Top 10 program with a handful of equals (including a Saban-coached Texas), then the recent SEC dominance will be challenged (although not overtaken).

But let's see what happens. If you are an A&M fan, you hope your conference brother can hold onto its hall of fame coach and keep him away from the Aggies' biggest and most dangerous competitor in the state of Texas. Because the lesson we've learned in just the brief two years in this league...it's as much about the perception and strength of the SEC as it is about the strength and perception of each individual institution. What's good for the SEC is good for Texas A&M.

So if you are an Aggie fan, your battle cry for the next two days should be "Roll Tide....outbid the Longhorns!"

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