Though essentially fantasy, Jameis Winston (left) joked Friday that if Jimbo Fisher were to become Texas' coach, a package deal would ensue.
(Photo: Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports)
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- As Texas' search to replace Mack Brown winds on, and rumors about Jimbo Fisher persist, Jameis Winston has a thought.
"If Coach Fisher leaves, I'm gonna say, 'Can I go?' "
Are you serious, Jameis?
"Yeah, I'm serious. That's my coach," Winston said Friday morning - but his grin was wide.
The dream package deal - along with a coach, Texas could sure use a Heisman-winning quarterback - won't happen, if only because of the NCAA transfer rules (Winston would have to sit out next season, after which he would be eligible for the NFL Draft). And Fisher, whose program at Florida State seems rebuilt for the long haul, seems like a very long shot to become Texas' coach.
But at this point in that search, we probably shouldn't discount any possibility.
On Friday, Baylor coach Art Briles bowed out, tweeting: "Contrary to reports and rumors I am a Baylor Bear - 2013 Big 12 champs." He later released a statement that said he was committed to Baylor. A while later, UCLA's Jim Mora told the Los Angeles Times he was "committed to being the UCLA coach." As it relates to Texas' search, read into those declarations whatever you'd like - often when coaches remove themselves from consideration, they were no longer under consideration - but it won't be Briles or Mora for Texas. Who's next?
According to several reports, Louisville's Charlie Strong is a finalist. Vanderbilt's James Franklin might be, too. And there might be others. Texas athletic director Steve Patterson isn't talking. Earlier this week, during an impromptu interview before Texas' loss to Oregon in the Alamo Bowl, Patterson would say only that he wanted a coach and staff in place and operating by Jan. 15, when recruiting reopens after a dead period. He also said, referring to coaching salaries, that Texas was "not out to set any threshold. I think we need to be good stewards of the resources we have."
Sounds good and prudent. But Texas has more resources than any other college athletic department. For the right guy, it's pretty safe to assume Texas would not hesitate to set a threshold. And if the search drags beyond the weekend, people will wonder if perhaps the Longhorns are waiting until the right guy's season is complete.
If not Fisher, maybe Auburn's Gus Malzahn. Or an NFL coach like Jim Harbaugh. Or hey, until the new coach flashes 'Hook 'Em' at an introductory news conference, the seemingly impossible dream - Nick Saban - will still be in play, at least to some.
Saban, Malzahn and Fisher all shot down speculation about Texas in recent weeks. All three got big, new deals that made their really good gigs better. In Fisher's case, though, the speculation hasn't stopped.
His contract extension, signed Tuesday, pays him $4.1 million a year and came complete with raises for his assistant coaches. All it really did, though, was provide him with a tool to deflect questions this week. It did not stop the questions.
Earlier this week, Fisher told reporters, "I'm very happy to be (at Florida State). They're very happy to have me." He'll probably be asked again about the Texas job on Saturday, when he'll be pinned down by reporters for an hour during the BCS National Championship's media day session.
"If you ask Coach Fisher, he's going to say, 'We're worried about winning the national championship,' " Winston said Friday.
If it seems like it could be a distraction to that goal, keep in mind Winston seemed so unconcerned about the possibility, he was secure enough to joke about a package deal that can't happen.
Winston also told reporters that when he was choosing between Major League Baseball or going to LSU, Stanford or Florida State, he wanted to be recruited by Texas but couldn't drum up any interest.
"Texas is my favorite team," he said (he also added that he was an Oklahoma fan, and it's hard to see how that all computes), and he confirmed an oft-told story that he and his high school coach tried repeatedly to get the Longhorns to recruit him. Which leads to this question, which Winston declined to answer:
If someone had returned those calls, would the Longhorns be having a coaching search right now?
It seems unlikely Fisher will leave Florida State. But at this point, the only thing that seems certain is Winston won't be going to Texas.