RALPH D. RUSSO, AP College Football Writer
The Texas coaching job is open. Nick Saban is not taking it.
Who might be? Here are six possibilities.
1) Art Briles, Baylor. Hiring the Baylor coach might seem like slumming it for some Texas fans, but any coach who can turn Baylor into Big 12 champions deserves a look. He’s 36-15 in the last four seasons at the one-time cellar dweller. The 58-year Texan and longtime high school coach in the Lone Star state doesn’t have the most captivating personality, but his offense is a thrill-a-minute. He also recently signed a 10-year contract extension that pays about $4 million annually.
2) Jimbo Fisher, Florida State. The 48-year-old former Nick Saban assistant has turned Florida State back into a national powerhouse in four seasons since taking over for Bobby Bowden. He’s 44-10 in his first head coaching job, and he has set up the Seminoles to be force for the near future. He reportedly agreed to a new five-year contract last week that will push his salary to $4 million per season.
3) James Franklin, Vanderbilt. The 41-year-old has star quality. Young. Handsome. Charismatic. And he’s 23-14 at Vanderbilt, which is almost unthinkable. He signed what the private school called a long-term contract after last season.
4) Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State. The 46-year-old former Oklahoma State quarterback has been coaching his alma since 2005. He is 77-37, helping the Cowboys go from afterthought to perennial Big 12 contender. He is in the second year of an eight-year contract worth $3.79 million in annual salary
5) Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers. Ask him about his interest in the Texas job at your own risk. It took him two years to take the 49ers to a Super Bowl after arriving from Stanford, where he turned a forlorn Cardinal program into one of the best on the country. He turns 50 this month.
6) Jim Mora, UCLA. The former NFL coach had some doubters when he entered the college game last year. Not anymore. The 52-year-old is high energy and in just two years has proved capable of landing elite recruits. He is 18-8 overall and 12-6 in the Pac-12. He recently agreed to a new six-year contract extension.
Extra point: Other possibilities include Stanford’s David Shaw, Penn State’s Bill O’Brien and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney.