BEVO BEAT

UT search: Fisher, Strong still targets, some push Saban

Posted January 3rd, 2014

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Texas officials are still strongly considering Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher and Louisville’s Charlie Strong and haven’t completely given up the idea of luring Alabama’s Nick Saban to Austin, the American-Statesman has learned.

Some key UT power brokers are still enchanted with the idea of landing Saban, which would be viewed as a blockbuster. Texas officials can make a strong push now that Alabama’s season is over after losing to Oklahoma in Thursday’s Sugar Bowl.

But when asked about reeling in Saban, a high-ranking Texas official said, “I would bet a small house against that.”

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Baylor coach Art Briles pulled his name from consideration Friday and did not have a formal interview with UT athletic director Steve Patterson, a Texas source and Baylor source told the American-Statesman.

It was unclear whether Patterson didn’t want Briles or lost interest after Baylor lost to Central Florida 52-42 in the Fiesta Bowl.

“I have no desire to pursue other coaching positions,” Briles said in a statement released by the school. “As I’ve said many times, I am both humbled and honored to be the head coach at Baylor University, and believe we have something special going here.”

UCLA coach Jim Mora’s name moved to the forefront this week for less than 24 hours, but it doesn’t appear that he was ever seriously considered. The Los Angeles Times reported Friday that Texas officials made contact with Mora’s agent but the coach had no real interest.

“It is always flattering when someone is interested in you,” Mora told the Los Angeles Times on Friday. “But I am committed to being the UCLA coach.”

Mora is represented by Jimmy Sexton, the same high-profile agent who represents Saban, Fisher and a host of other top coaches connected to the Texas search. Sexton’s presence alone may be complicating matters. Patterson is known as an administrator who wants to deal directly with his coaches, not go through some intermediary.

Two sources connected to Strong have not heard anything from Texas officials in recent days. The American-Statesman has reported that Strong and Patterson met for four hours in Louisville, and Patterson told the coach he would interview others.

Patterson may not be able to wait around if he wants Strong. Reports surfaced Friday that linked Miami coach Al Golden and Vanderbilt’s James Franklin to the now-vacant Penn State job. If Golden left, it’s believed Miami would go after Strong considering his deep Florida ties.

Patterson could not be reached for comment. The American-Statesman has reported that Patterson is spearheading the search and keeping most UT power brokers in the dark, including many of those on the eight-person search committee.

One UT source said if Patterson favors Fisher, the search will go into next week. If it’s someone else, the search could be wrapped up this weekend, giving Patterson the chance to grab some headlines leading up to Monday’s national championship game.

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