Dusty and Cam
Weekdays 12pm - 3pm

Local: 503.250.1080
    Toll Free: 866.358.1080
| More
College Football
Scoreboard|Standings|Teams|Leaders|Polls

Texas-sized cloud hangs over BCS title game

(AP Photo/Bob Leverone, file)

By RALPH D. RUSSO

AP College Football Writer

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) A Texas-sized cloud of uncertainty looms over college football's biggest game of the season.

As No. 1 Florida State and No. 2 Auburn prepare in Southern California to meet Monday in the last BCS championship game, the University of Texas is still looking for a new football coach. And until the Longhorns make a hire, just about every successful coach can be considered a candidate - including Florida State's Jimbo Fisher and Auburn's Gus Malzahn.

"I've been amazed about how quiet this thing has been," ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit said earlier this week. "Because of that it leads me to speculate and believe that somebody still involved in coaching, whether it's the NFL or college, must be one of their primary candidates."

"I think the longer this goes on I think it's very, very clear that it's somebody who's still coaching. Who that might be, I have no idea."

Some leaks have sprung in the last couple of days, and it appears front-runners are emerging.

Published reports out of Texas stated the Longhorns were interested in Fisher, Baylor's Art Briles, Vanderbilt's James Franklin and Louisville's Charlie Strong. Michigan State's Mark Dantonio has also been mentioned as a coach Texas athletic director Steve Patterson is looking at. Patterson said he wants the search complete by Jan. 15.

"Texas, they're going to be calling on everybody they possibly can because they're going to try to get the best coach they possibly can," Florida State AD Stan Wilcox said. "Meanwhile, everybody's trying to keep their coaches because they all feel that the people that Texas is looking at are the best coaches out there."

Florida State hopes it has put all the speculation about Fisher's future to rest. The fourth-year head coach and Nick Saban disciple finally got around on Tuesday to signing a new contract that runs through the 2018 season and pays him about $4.1 million annually.

Auburn agreed to a new deal with Malzahn the day before the Southeastern Conference championship game last month. The six-year contract is worth $3.85 million annually to the first-year Tigers coach.

Briles got a 10-year deal in November from Baylor. Michigan State is working on a new deal for Dantonio that could double his $1.9 million salary.

The Dallas Morning News and Austin American-Statesmen reported Patterson has met with Strong and that Briles, now that Baylor's season ended Tuesday night with a 52-42 loss to UCF in the Fiesta Bowl, could be next to interview.

And, of course, Saban, the object of so many Longhorns desires, agreed to a new multiyear deal with Alabama that will pay him $7 million a year after months of stories and speculation connecting the four-time national championship winning coach and Texas.

But what do those extensions really mean? Are Fisher, Malzahn, Briles and even Saban truly off the market?

"A contract is written to be broken," said Kansas State athletic director John Currie, who doesn't have to worry about his football coach, 74-year-old Bill Snyder, going anywhere.

The trend in college sports, especially college football, is for schools to quickly lock up successful coaches and hand out raises.

Mississippi extended Hugh Freeze's contract after a 7-5 regular season and bumped his pay to $3 million per year. Washington State's Mike Leach got the Cougars back into a bowl by winning six games in his second season at Pullman. He got a two-year extension for his work.

Texas A&M made the boldest move of all this season with coach Kevin Sumlin, who was drawing interest from NFL teams last year. The Aggies made Sumlin (20-6 in two seasons at A&M) a $5 million-per-year coach with a new six-year deal.

Arizona AD Greg Byrne said the contract numbers that make headlines can often be deceiving.

"When you get down into the details the interesting numbers are what's guaranteed, both sides. If the coach were to leave, what's the buyout? And then if you were to dismiss your coach without cause what percent of the contract is guaranteed?" Byrne said. "Sometime you'll see someone with an eight-year contract, but half the contract is guaranteed, so in some ways it's a four-year contract instead."

Currie said the NFL has played a major role in changing the salary structure for college coaches, but ultimately a school needs to decide what works best for it.

"Everybody else is doing it is not a reason to make a bad decision for your institution," he said.

But market pressures can be strong and big openings - such as the one at Texas - can drive up that market.

"I'm sure there's been a time where a school's reacted too slowly, but I think there have been times where a school has jumped ahead a little more in hindsight to where they want to be," Byrne said. "It's a challenging situation. I think the market place has gotten to such that there will be agents out there that will try to parlay one school against another. And I think that's driven up some of the numbers we're seeing today."

Florida State and Auburn have made their moves to protect their interests, and can spend this week focusing on what it takes to win a national championship. But until the Longhorns introduce a new coach, fans of the Seminoles and Tigers - and Bears and Cardinals, etc. - have reason to be at least a little distracted by what's going on in Austin.

---

Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP

Updated January 2, 2014

w10 © 2015 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

The Fan's Top Stories

Mariners fire general manager Jack Zduriencik


(AP) The Seattle Mariners have fired general manager Jack Zduriencik after seven disappointing seasons during which the club failed to end its playoff drought. More.

Ducks' Allen goes cautious with rehab


(AP) Oregon's Devon Allen is not working toward just a football comeback, he's aiming for Rio, too. The speedy receiver tore his ACL in the Rose Bowl and the No. 7 Ducks are . . . more.

Inexperienced QB trio battles for Beavers' starting role


(AP) Oregon State freshman Seth Collins is focusing on himself, not on the outside noise about the Beavers' quarterback competition. It's all speculation . . . more.

Ex-NBA star Darryl Dawkins dies at 58


(AP) Darryl Dawkins was once summoned in the Philadelphia 76ers' locker room to come meet a celebrity who wanted to meet the man known for dunking with backboard-breaking . . . more.

Seahawks LB pushing for playing time


(AP) It doesn't take long for the speed of Kevin Pierre-Louis to catch your eye. The second-year Seahawks linebacker has loads of it. It's a trait that Seattle covets in its linebackers . . . more.

Sarkisian: meds, booze led to ugly scene


(AP) Southern California coach Steve Sarkisian publicly apologized Tuesday for his drunken appearance at a team rally last weekend, attributing his slurred, profane speech to . . . more.

Ducks #7, Buckeyes first unanimous #1 in AP poll


(AP) Ohio State is the first unanimous preseason No. 1 in The Associated Press college football poll. The defending national champion Buckeyes received all 61 first-place votes from . . . more.

Freeman looks to add "leader" to his resume


(AP) Just a sophomore, Oregon running back Royce Freeman is already assuming a leadership role on the Ducks' offense. That's only natural considering he's the top returning . . . more.

FCS power NDSU to visit Ducks in 2020


(AP) The FCS' most dominant program has a date with one of the FBS' biggest powerhouses. North Dakota State and Oregon announced Friday they will meet at Autzen Stadium . . . more.

The FAN's NFL Page


From the games, to the hot stories and the player moves, The FAN's NFL Page has everything you need for your favorite team, your fantasy team and more.

The FAN's Golf Page


The FAN's Golf Page is where you can go for the latest AP coverage of the PGA, LPGA, Web.Com, European and Champion's Tour info. From leader boards to stories, it's all right here.

The FAN's NBA Page


What offseason? From draft news, to trades and free agency, you'll find the latest Trail Blazers and league news on The FAN's NBA page.

The Mariners Page


For the latest on M's Baseball, including player moves, previews, real time gamecasts and recaps, head to The FAN's Mariners Page.