Mack Brown’s furious reaction scuttled Nick Saban to Texas in 2013
The agent for Nick Saban expressed to Texas several years ago that his client had serious interest in coaching the Longhorns. But a furious reaction from Mack Brown scuttled the deal.
Saban’s agent Jimmy Sexton spoke with Texas in January 2013 about the possibility of Saban coming to coach the Longhorns. Saban was fresh off coaching his team to its second consecutive national championship and third in four years. He was considering a move to Texas. The Longhorns wanted to make it happen too, but they needed cooperation from Brown that they did not receive.
Former Texas regent Tom Hicks (also the former Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars owner) was a guest on a June 27 podcast by Corby Davidson of SportsRadio The Ticket in Dallas. In that interview, Hicks shared just how serious Saban seemed to be about taking the Longhorns job.
Here’s the clip:
Fascinating audio from a June 27 podcast with former Texas Regent Tom Hicks and Corby Davidson. Hicks details the Saban to Texas courtship after ‘12 season. Including a conversation w/Jimmy Sexton & Mack Brown about the potential of Saban heading to Austin. @finebaum @3ManFront pic.twitter.com/2NNPYmiVkw
— Pat Smith (@patsmithradio) July 9, 2019
“We had a call from his agent,” Hicks said, as transcribed by AL.com. “… Another regent and I had a conversation with Saban and his agent. He [Sexton] said ‘if Saban was a business guy, he’s what you’d call a turnaround artist, he’s not a long-term CEO. He’d go somewhere and fix it, win, and move on.
“He knows he’ll never catch Bear Bryant’s legacy in Alabama. But he’d like to create his legacy that he’d won more national championships at more schools than anybody else. He’s already done it at LSU, he’s already done it at Alabama. He knows he could win a national championship at Texas. He knows he can.’”
“I went to see Mack two days later, we had lunch,” Hicks said. “I thought at the time Mack was ready to leave. He’d been telling people he was ready to leave. I said ‘Mack, I want to tell you about a conversation I had with Jimmy Sexton. If you want to retire, I think you can graciously have Nick Saban come in and take your place. It would kind of be your idea. That might be a nice way for you to end it.’
“And boy, Mack Brown turned bright red, steam started coming out of his ears. He said ‘that guy’s not coming here and winning a national championship with my players.’ I said ‘Mack, I’m glad to see you have that passion. I didn’t think you had that passion left.’ That’s what started the Nick Saban story.
“I called the agent back and said ‘if this isn’t Mack’s idea [to step down], it’s not going to happen.’ I said ‘it’s not going to happen.’”
Word about Sexton’s talks with Texas actually were kept quiet for a while until a regent leaked it to the Associated Press in September 2013, leading to it becoming a story. That led to plenty of smoke later that year about Saban considering a move to Texas.
Brown resigned from his job at Texas in mid-December after going 8-5. Saban decided to remain at Alabama despite a report saying Texas was prepared to offer him $100 million to take over the program.
Texas ended up hiring Charlie Strong, who was a disaster and went 16-21 over three seasons. When Texas was considering firing Strong after his second season, rumors continued to tie Saban to the Texas job. That was in 2015.
Though Saban’s name comes up here and there for coaching jobs, he’s remained at Alabama long enough now where his denials are finally taken more seriously. But back in 2013, he did seem awfully interested in leaving for Texas.