Nothing outward indicates that Nick Saban is interested in leaving Alabama. Reports linking his name to Texas seem to indicate bad news for another coach, however.
In the bigger picture, it suggests the wheels have been turning for a while in Austin regarding the future of Longhorns coach Mack Brown, whose prognosis is looking extremely bleak.
Don’t dismiss anything regarding Saban or Texas, which is 1-2 after blowout losses to Mississippi and Brigham Young. The Longhorns are 5½-point home favorites over Kansas State on Saturday, and the beleaguered Brown needs a win.
The decision by Brown to dump defensive coordinator Manny Diaz after the recent BYU embarrassment was understandable. But enlisting Greg Robinson, who had been out of coaching for the past couple of years, hardly seems the answer, either.
The Texas run defense ranks among the nation’s worst, and the prospect of the platoon rallying under Robinson appears far-fetched. So, too, do prospects of Brown lasting on the job beyond this season.
With all of the challenging Big 12 Conference dates still ahead, the Longhorns look as if they might struggle just to get bowl-eligible.
Brown’s job is in jeopardy, win or lose this week, and the same could be said for Southern California coach Lane Kiffin.
Winners and losers from the first month of the college football season:
■ Winner: Georgia Tech — While ESPN and the rest of the free world fawns over Clemson, Miami and Florida State as Atlantic Coast Conference teams to watch on the national radar, regional insiders are quick to include the much-improved Yellow Jackets in any such discussion after they romped 38-14 at Duke last week.
The new full-time option pilot, sophomore quarterback Vad Lee, looks to be perhaps a significant upgrade for coach Paul Johnson.
But it’s the defense that has caused ACC sources to take notice. Rid of the ill-advised 3-4 looks and stale schemes of former defensive coordinator Al Groh, the personnel seems a better fit for the preferred 4-3 alignments of new coordinator Ted Roof. Johnson remains shrewd as ever and reportedly cannot contain his excitement over the possibilities the ascending Lee provides for his offense.
■ Loser: Kansas — More and more, athletic director Sheahon Zenger is looking foolish for his decision to hire Charlie Weis as coach a year ago.
After last week’s 23-14 loss at Rice, Weis still has not beaten a Football Bowl Subdivision foe into his second season in Lawrence. His best chance comes Saturday against a rebuilding Louisiana Tech side. But if Weis can’t win that one, Kansas figures to be an underdog — and a substantial one most weeks — in every upcoming Big 12 game.
■ Winner: Auburn — Coach Gus Malzahn has found a quarterback to run his spread in Nick Marshall, who after a few mistakes in his early starts was cool as a cucumber in a game-winning drive against Mississippi State. Auburn, thus, already has matched its win total from last season’s 3-9 disaster that got Gene Chizik fired. Next up is an all-Tiger battle at Louisiana State.
■ Loser: Utah — The overtime play-calling for the Utes after a wildly entertaining second half led to last week’s home loss to Oregon State. Utah opened the overtime with two basic running plays, forcing quarterback Travis Wilson to try to convert a third-and-9 on the first series of downs, which Wilson did not accomplish. Settling for a field goal, the Utes were vulnerable to the more-aggressive Beavers, who stole a 51-48 win.
Utah has a chance to get back on track Saturday as a 6½-point underdog at BYU. The Utes have won the past three meetings with the Cougars.
■ Loser: Wake Forest — More and more ACC observers are beginning to wonder if the Demon Deacons program has run its course for respected coach Jim Grobe. Wake, which suffered a 21-19 home loss to Louisiana-Monroe last week, has slipped from its perch atop the ACC and has qualified for a bowl just once in the past four years.
Bruce Marshall is editor of The Gold Sheet (goldsheet.com) and a handicapper for Don Best Sports.