Bryan Harsin, Boise State offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach
Pros: For the past five years, Harsin has commanded one of the country's top offenses. He's the play-caller for the Broncos and does an excellent job of outflanking defenses before the ball is ever snapped. He's also done a nice job playing to his personnel. The Broncos with accurate signal-caller Kellen Moore have a different emphasis than the Broncos with tailback Ian Johnson. Energetic at age 34, he could be a nice long-term solution as well.
Cons: Harsin has a lack of coaching perspective. He's never coached at a BCS school, and has spent all but one season as a coach at Boise State (he spent a year at Eastern Oregon), and even played for the Broncos. Additionally, there's always the worry that Harsin isn't the real mastermind behind the Broncos' attack, though as said before, he is the one who prepares the offense and calls the plays.
Pros: Malzahn's system is easy to learn for offensive players and complex to read for defensive players. Great defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin once compared playing against Malzahn to trying to read a book with someone waving their hands in front of the pages. He's also balanced, boasting a great rushing offense at times with Cam Newton and before at Arkansas, while his Tulsa offenses were outstanding at airing the ball out. He's also seasoned for his young age, with OC stops at Arkansas and Auburn sandwiched around a two-year stint at Tulsa. An excellent recruiter with ties to nearby Arkansas.
Cons: Longevity. The Longhorns could likely land Malzahn for this season, but could they hold onto him beyond that? Malzahn brings what a lot of teams look for in a head coaching candidate: an upbeat, high-energy guy who supplies an exciting brand of offense.
Dana Holgorsen, Oklahoma State offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach
Pros: Holgorsen's offenses have always lit up the scoreboard. He started off at Valdosta State and Mississippi College before commanding the high-scoring Texas Tech offenses under coach Mike Leach. In 2008, he left for Houston and continued his torrid run before showing surprising balance at Oklahoma State in 2010. Holgorsen brings a high-octane spread attack that, with the right personnel, can also churn up yardage on the ground. Additionally, Holgorsen has Texas connections and is already used to coaching against Big 12 defenses.
Cons: Holgorsen is already rumored to be a top candidate for Florida, and it appears that the Gators are willing to throw quite a bit of money at him. Additionally, Holgorsen is considered somewhat of a wild card personally.
Chad Morris, Tulsa associate head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach
Pros: Texas connections. Morris coached in the state for 16 years, winning three state championships, including two in two years at Lake Travis. Six of his teams went to the state title game. Morris was also the coach in Garrett Gilbert's senior year, and has experience working with the talented signal caller. He runs the hurry-up spread with great results, with this year's Tulsa offense ranking No. 8 in total offense and No. 11 in scoring offense.
Cons: Lack of experience. This year's results were the only ones to go on, as this was Morris's only year as a coordinator in FBS, and it didn't come at a BCS conference school. May have plenty of Texas contacts, but recruiting is somewhat of an unknown. And it just wouldn't make sense for the Longhorns to reach over the candidate listed below for a less experienced one with fewer ties to the program.
Major Applewhite, Texas running backs coach
Pros: Familiarity with the program and personnel. Applewhite bleeds burnt orange and won't have to establish relationships with Longhorn players. An excellent coach with attention to detail and a dogged recruiter. Applewhite has twice been a coordinator, once at Rice, where he directed one of the most successful offenses in Rice history, and a year at Alabama. His offense there improved by more than four points and almost 40 yards per game over the previous year. Would also be a long-term choice, one with potential for growth.
Cons: A lack of new ideas. Applewhite played and coached largely under recently resigned Greg Davis, so it's unclear how his offense would differ from Davis's. There's also a lack of experience factor here: does Texas really want to hire a coordinator with just two years coordinating experience? Applewhite is certainly a future choice, but might not have the seasoning just yet.