Anatomy of a Coaching Search

How the Texas football coaching search wound up with an offer to Louisville coach Charlie Strong.

Texas is expected to finish its head coaching search on Sunday, with Louisville head coach Charlie Strong announcing his decision to take over the job recently vacated by Mack Brown's resignation.

That's the lede. But how did Texas get there?

Texas started with an original top list of four candidates: Florida State's Jimbo Fisher, Auburn's Gus Malzahn, Ohio State's Urban Meyer and San Francisco 49er coach Jim Harbaugh and a sizable 'B list' that included Strong, Baylor's Art Briles, Vanderbilt's James Franklin and UCLA's Jim Mora among others.

But that 'A list' was quickly sliced to one, with only Fisher making it beyond the preliminary stages. Beyond that, Texas still hadn't had a chance to interview the Florida State boss, in deference to his team's spot in the yet-to-be-played BCS National Championship game.

Texas athletics director Steve Patterson did interview both Strong and Franklin, with Strong coming out of that process as the more legitimate candidate.

Then, Friday happened. Both Mora and Briles pulled their names out of the hat, and Texas was faced with a difficult decision: wait on Fisher or proceed with Strong, a classic bird-in-hand type decision. Briles's decision was different than Mora's — he couldn't allow himself to be a part of a drawn-out search process (for recruiting purposes), though he would have accepted the Texas job if it were offered outright, sources said.

If Fisher was the true No. 1 hire and Texas landed him, great. But coaching searches so rarely play out according to best-case scenarios. What would have happened if Texas waited for Fisher, Strong dropped out, then Fisher elected not to take the job?

With one name left on its A list and a vastly dwindling B list, it came down to those two choices, with Texas opting for the safer option, offering the job to Strong. And Strong indicated to the Texas administration that he would take it, making him the 29th head coach in Texas football history.

Per sources, the delay was largely based on Strong's wanting to tell his team, and Louisville athletics director Tom Jurich, about his decision in person. Strong had a staff meeting at 9 a.m. CT, but told his staff he was still mulling the decision.

Jurich, who was in Colorado, was said to be held up by bad weather, delaying a return trip to Louisville. If Jurich was not able to get back Saturday night, Strong was expected to have that conversation with him on Sunday.

Strong's announcement is then expected to come soon after, likely with an acceptance on Sunday and an official press conference at Texas on Monday.

If Strong accepted on Sunday, that would give him 10 days to begin assembling his staff of choice — one that won't include Louisville assistant Clint Hurtt — before the current recruiting dead period ends.


Horns Digest Top Stories