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Friday, January 1, 2010
Briles' Baylor commitment leaves Tech looking at Plan B

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

I'm not really surprised that Art Briles apparently isn't interested in the Texas Tech job, although I think he was the prime candidate for the position if he really wanted it.

His affirmation this morning for Baylor leaves little doubt he's interested in finishing his job with the Bears.

He didn't mention Tech by name in the release, owing that he still has a lot of friends in the administration and the athletic department from his three seasons working there with Mike Leach from 2000-02. He didn't want to take a shot at them when the program is scrambling and he didn't.

I can't read Briles' mind, but I've got to believe the test of becoming the first coach to take Baylor to a bowl game in 15 years has to be the ultimate challenge in coaching.

Tech has made 10 straight bowl trips and is likely positioned to keep that streak alive no matter who is coaching -- at least initially.

But Briles sees what he has at Baylor. His stadium is a tad smaller at Baylor than at Texas Tech, but everything else at his disposal is equal to or superior at his current school than he would have had in Lubbock. The new training center the Bears opened before the 2009 season is comparable to any in the conference and better than what he would find at Tech.

And he still has quarterback Robert Griffin III for two more years, which likely would be a deal-clincher if Briles looks at the choice between the two schools objectively.

Briles' decision causes a reshuffling of the leading candidates to replace Leach.

Interim coach Ruffin McNeill can make a convincing statement with an impressive performance tomorrow night in the Valero Alamo Bowl. He would be the popular choice for most players in the program and likely the best choice to keep the Red Raiders' recruiting class together.

Former Auburn and Mississippi coach Tommy Tuberville is interested in the job and comes with an impressive résumé. But it would be interesting to see if Tech athletic director Gerald Myers would turn in his way.

Other candidates with head coaching experience like Larry Fedora of Southern Mississippi and Kevin Sumlin of Houston and others like Arizona offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes and Houston offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen might be interested in the job.

But Briles' announcement takes one of the top candidates out of the running -- at least for the present time.