The coaching carousel in college football is in full swing, especially in Texas. The transfer portal and the early signing period have expediated the process of hiring and firing new coaches, and the Lone Star State is not immune. Texas Tech fired Matt Wells and replaced him with Joey McGuire as the 2021 season was still unfolding. This year, Texas A&M fired Jimbo Fisher with two years left on the schedule, and $76 million left on his contract. The Aggies announced Mike Elko the day after the end of the 2023 regular season.
Two jobs remain open in Texas – Houston and UTEP. Baylor stood pat with Dave Aranda and his roughly $20 million-dollar buyout, but the Bears are expecting major changes structurally with a new offensive coordinator and NIL structure. The rumor mill is hot, and here is what we’re hearing across the state.
HOUSTON HEAD COACH OPENING
This one sounds like a two-horse race between Jeff Traylor and Willie Fritz with UNLV head coach Barry Odom in the third spot. Traylor and Fritz played in Week 13 of the regular season with Tulane coming out on top and extending its regular season into the AAC championship game. That might provide some context clues into which direction Houston decides to go. Every day that Traylor isn’t announced as the head coach means that it is more likely that Fritz, or even Odom, are the pick. UTSA is done with the regular season. If the Cougars choose Traylor, and if he agrees to the contract, every day that passes is one fewer that he can rework the roster and leverage the transfer portal and 2024 recruiting class.
Financials could also play a role. Houston is paying Dana Holgorsen nearly $15 million dollars over the next four years. Fritz’s buy out is $1 million. Traylor’s is $7 million. If this thing goes into the weekend, the safe bet is Fritz or Odom. UNLV plays Boise State for the Mountain West championship on Saturday at 2 p.m. Tulane plays SMU for the AAC crown on Saturday at 3 p.m.
UTEP HEAD COACHING OPENING
The Miners want to go “young and offensive” according to sources in the coaching community who’ve been contacted about the job. Our initial list of names included a few candidates with that profile. Brennan Marion at UNLV is a hot-shot offensive coordinator who was a high school coach early in his career. He’s also one of the most prolific wide receivers in NCAA history from his time at Tulsa. At 36, he’d fit the profile. Other names out there are Texas State offensive coordinator Mack Leftwich, who played quarterback at UTEP, UTPB head coach Kris McCullough and Houston Christian head coach Braxton Harris. Idaho’s Jason Eck was also a name mentioned early on in the process.
BAYLOR OC SEARCH
As we reported over the weekend, Dave Aranda is going back to his roots as a defensive guru who will take over play calling duties defensively in an important 2024 season. That means that the Bears need a new offensive coordinator who doesn’t require micromanaging. One that has led a football program before and that Aranda can trust to score points while he fixes a Baylor defense that’s fallen off a cliff since the 2021 season. Sean Lewis and Seth Littrell were quickly removed from consideration after landing other jobs this week.
Some obvious names to consider remain on the market. One is Matt Wells. He and Aranda worked together before, are good friends, and Wells possesses plenty of Big 12 experience from his time leading Texas Tech. Jake Spavital could also return to Texas after spending 2023 as the offensive coordinator at Cal. He was the head coach at Texas State and a former offensive coordinator at Texas A&M. Nick Rolovich, Chad Morris, Paul Chryst, and Matt Canada are other names to watch. More off-the-radar candidates include Tim Beck (the OC at New Mexico State) and NC State offensive coordinator Robert Anae.
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