With Texas (5-6) staring down the barrel of a third straight losing season, the Longhorns will almost certainly look for a replacement for Charlie Strong – and sooner rather than later. While Texas will likely inquire about several possible candidates, all roads reportedly lead to Clemson, South Carolina.
“The boosters that I’ve spoken with, they like his style,” Brian Jones said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones, referring to Dabo Swinney. “He’s gone about his business at Clemson, and he’s more along the lines of a Mack Brown. Why would he leave such a cozy situation he has there at Clemson? Money – and lots of it.”
Swinney, 47, makes an average of $5.125 million per year. His deal runs through 2021, and his buy-out is $20 million for 2016 and 2017.
“It’s a pretty hefty gig,” Jones said, “but we’re talking (about him making) upwards of $7-8 million (at Texas). He’s in the mix each and every year and played for a national title a season ago and has won 10, 11, 12 ball games the last five or six years – you’re going to have to really open up your purse book, and (Texas is) not afraid to do that. As Red McCombs said during the previous search for a head coach at Texas, all the money that’s not buried under the Vatican is at the University of Texas. Football is king at Texas. They will find the money.”
Texas opened the season with a 50-47 double-overtime win against then-No. 10 Notre Dame. At that point, many college football analysts believed that the Longhorns were back as national contenders. Notre Dame, however, is 4-7, and Texas has gone 3-6 since its 2-0 start. This past Saturday, the Longhorns lost, 24-21, in overtime at Kansas. The Jayhawks entered the game 1-9 on the season.
“Those who were not in (Strong’s) corner were still clamoring for change even if they had won that game – because you were still sitting there with five losses,” said Jones, a former Longhorns linebacker. “So they were already upset and wanted to move on. I’ve also learned that some of the boosters have cooled on Tom Herman. He’s not going to be a guy who’s going to be beholden to them. You need what you had previously at Texas, unfortunately, which is someone who can deal in the politics, if you will, of kissing babies and shaking hands.”
Jones said he spoke to a coach Sunday who is “in the know” who said Swinney is one of the leading candidates on the Texas wish list.
“Herman’s name is still there, but as I stated earlier, some have cooled on him and there’s been some interest in Dabo Swinney,” Jones said. “How far down the road that interest is, I’m not sure at this stage. But his name has been mentioned.”
Swinney has won 10+ games in six consecutive seasons. In fact, he is 66-13 (.835) since 2011 – with bowl wins over LSU, Ohio State and Oklahoma – and is considered one of the top coaches in America.
“(He’s in a) hell of a situation” Jones said. “(But) money talks.”