Who will be the next head football coach at Texas A&M?
With A&M Bill Byrne all but firing Franchione in his morning press conference, attention now turns to who will be the next head football coach at A&M. Money is not an issue, so let's assume that A&M is going to go all out to get the best coach they can, and frankly A&M has no other choice. They either make the right hire this time, or they are going to be out of the serious football business for years to come. Here are our prospective candidates with the odds they will be hired:
1. Tommy Tuberville - 5-1: The most obvious choice. Tommy coached on Slocum's staff at A&M, but more importantly he is a good 'ole boy that knows how to fire a rifle and bait a hook. We wouldn't be surprised if Tuberville's agent, Jimmy Sexton is already talking with A&M representatives about the outlines of a deal to make Tubby the next head coach. Tuberville would return A&M to the top of the Big 12, and he would be a good foil to Stoops and the Sooners.
2. Gary Kubiak - 10-1: The current Houston Texans coach would be hard pressed to give up the NFL for college, but he would have to give this job a good hard look. A record-setting QB at A&M, Kubiak is a genuine hero in College Station and the Aggie faithful could really get behind one of "their" guys. This really comes down to whether Kubiak sees himself as a pro or college coach, and only he can answer that question.
3. Jim Leavitt - 15-1: He has the USF Bulls rolling and that alone is a testament to the kind of football coach this guy is. That being a very, very good coach. Leavitt went to Missouri and coached at Kansas State so he knows the Big 12, and he would bring a lot of passion to College Station. Two concerns: Can anyone get him out of Tampa, and can he go head to head with Bob Stoops year in and year out. We think he would leave Tampa for A&M, and yes he could go head to head with Stoops, and win.
4. Paul Johnson - 20-1: The most underrated coach in the game would be a good fit in College Station. Johnson is 103-37 (.736) in 10 plus seasons at Georgia Southern and Navy, and the man can flat out coach the game of football. He threw the ball as an assistant at Hawaii and runs and option attack as the head coach at Navy, so this guy can do it all. The only real question is if he is a big enough name for the boys in Texas. No, his name is not big, but his coaching ability is.
5. Art Briles - 40-1: Could the A&M boys hire a Texas Tech graduate? Probably not, but if they did they would be getting one of the most innovative coaches in the game. Briles is barely above .500 in 4 plus seasons in Houston, but that is Houston, and one can only wonder what kind of program he could build at A&M.
6. Bo Pelini - 50-1: If Les Miles doesn't go to Michigan, then this will be one of the best assistants available come December. He has experience in the Big 12 with his stint at Nebraska, and he would bring a tough defensive philosophy to a place that takes great pride in it's Wrecking Crew. Pelini is only 40 years old and he could bring some youthful enthusiasm to a school that badly needs to get it's mojo back. This might be the best hire of anyone mentioned here, but also the one that takes the biggest chance.
7. Jon Gruden - 100-1: If there ever was a coach that was made for college football, then it is Jon Gruden. Still only 44 years old, Gruden still has a passion for the game that is not equaled by anyone we know, college or pro. His Super Bowl win was in 2002, so things might be getting stale in Tampa, and what a better combination of people than Jon Gruden and the Aggies. He would eat up the traditions that make A&M the great school that it is, and there would be no one tougher on the campus once he arrived in College Station. This would be a gutsy hire, a innovative hire, and we would pay serious money to see him go up against Bob Stoops and the Sooners every year.
The last time A&M hired a head football coach they did so to avenge the loss of Bear Bryant to Alabama in 1958. This time they need to hire the best coach they can get, and if they are going to make a move they had better be talking to the people they are interested in right now. We have no doubt they are doing just that.