Fitzgerald and five members of his coaching staff attended the Longhorns' bowl practice and watched film, but sources close to the situation said it was a typical visit for a coach whose team isn't preparing for a bowl game. Fitzgerald said in a text to ESPN.com that it was a "standard drop in."
A Texas spokesperson did not return a request for comment.
Fitzgerald is one of the more than a dozen names that have been mentioned for the Texas vacancy following Mack Brown's decision to resign Saturday after 16 seasons.
In eight seasons as the head coach at his alma mater, Fitzgerald is 55-46. Northwestern finished 5-7 and 1-7 in Big Ten play this season after going to five consecutive bowl games.
Texas athletic director Steve Patterson said Sunday he'll seek candidates with extensive college football coaching experience but that there is no timetable for making the hire.
ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg contributed to this report.
Tight end: Jace Amaro, Texas Tech
Offensive guard: Cyril Richardson, Baylor
Defensive end: Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
Center: Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma
Cornerback: Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
Cornerback: Jason Verrett, TCU
Safety: Ahmad Dixon, Baylor
Kicker: Anthony Fera, Texas
Safety: Ty Zimmerman, Kansas State
A sampling of today's chat:
Go Pokes! (Colorado): With the retirement of Mack Brown, should Okie State fans be worried that Texas might want to hire Mike Gundy?
Jake Trotter: It doesn't sound like Gundy will be at the top of the list. But he'll be on the list. That said, would Texas hire someone who is 1-8 lifetime against Oklahoma? One of the reasons Mack Brown had to retire was because he couldn't consistently defeat OU.
Randy (Pampa): Hi, Jake. I know everyone is going to ask you who you think will be the next coach at Texas, so I won't bother to. Oh, who am I trying to fool? I gotta know! Who do you think will be the next coach at Texas?
Jake Trotter: Safest bet is James Franklin. He's a guy they can definitely get, and a guy they will definitely target.
Chase (Dallas): What do you think of Sonny Cumbie heading over to TCU?
Jake Trotter: I thought it was strange initially. But after hearing Cumbie's explanation, it makes sense. He basically wants to be where Kliff Kingsbury is someday. And it was going to be very difficult getting there where he was, coaching WRs with little input in the offensive game planning. Cumbie is a great recruiter, very energetic. I like what Gary Patterson has done so far this offseason.
Sooner in Texas (Texas): How do you leave Jordan Phillips, Keith Ford off your underclassmen list? Those two will be incredible next year. Truly shocking and shows poor judgment on your part.
Jake Trotter: As I mentioned in the post, the all-underclassman team was about 2013 performance, not 2014 potential. Both have bright futures. Neither played enough this year to warrant recognition for this team.
Austin (Austin, Texas): Where do you see Baker Mayfield going?
Jake Trotter: I've heard he has his sights set high. I think all the non-AQ schools in Texas are possibilities (SMU, Rice, North Texas). I know he wants to play somewhere in a major conference. But it will require one of those schools offering him a scholly, which is something most of them didn't do in the winter.
Bob (Waco): Is there any chance some UT recruits change commitments with Mack leaving?
Jake Trotter: I get the sense most players commit to Texas more than they commit to the coach, though I'm sure many of those commitments will be watching closely to see who the new coach is.
Kevin (Reno, Nev.): The Big XII needs a big time coaching addition to the conference, not for Texas to poach one from a fellow school. Agree or disagree?
Jake Trotter: It would be better for the conference if Texas poached outside the league, rather than inside it. I agree.
shrubsooner (Oklahoma): Oklahoma State or Mizzou?
Jake Trotter: I give Oklahoma State a slight edge. They have a CB in Justin Gilbert who can match up with DGB.
Big Sean (KCMO): Yea, we will see if Okie State's corner can match up with DGB or any of Mizzou's wideouts.
Way to be a Big 12 homer!!!
Jake Trotter: Justin Gilbert was a Thorpe finalist. Try to keep up.
Leon (WV): Are we dumping Dana Holgorsen after this disaster?
Jake Trotter: Dana will be back in 2014, but he will be on the hot seat. The problem is, will West Virginia be able to bounce back far enough to save his job? West Virginia plays Alabama at Maryland, at Oklahoma State, at Texas, at Texas Tech, Baylor, OU -- they would have to win at least one of those games just to make a bowl. Gonna be tough.
Shrub (Oklahoma): Do you think Charlie Weis ever turns it around? And have you heard of that program getting any top recruits?
Jake Trotter: Weis actually has a decent class coming in. LB Kyron Watson, C Jacob Bragg and RB Traevohn Wrench are all four-star players. Next year is a big year. The key might be QB Montell Cozart. He needs to take the next step.
Jim (Colo.): Do you think Colorado and Nebraska anticipated being this poor after leaving the Big 12? I think Bo Pelini is the problem in Lincoln but I have no idea why Colorado is a complete doormat.
Jake Trotter: I agree. I don't think Pelini is the answer at all in Lincoln. Strange they're keeping him. And does Colorado still field a football team? I have no idea.
Kenny (WV): How does the new juco transfer fit into the musical chairs if the WVU QB situation? Also will he qualify to be there in the spring?
Jake Trotter: Skyler Howard is another hat in the ring. I have no idea what direction Dana will go at QB. I think he wanted Ford Childress to be the guy before the injury. As bad as he was against Maryland, I might give Childress the slight edge in the spring. But he'll have to be better than he was in Baltimore.
In the heat of the greatest moment of his career, Mack Brown did something remarkably savvy and typical of his dedication to recruiting.
Just moments after lifting the crystal BCS national championship trophy in the Rose Bowl, after beating USC for his first title, Brown was asked what this victory meant to the state of Texas. "What it means to us, been a long time," Brown barked. "There's a lot of passion and a lot of pride. I'm proud of these kids, I'm proud of our coaches -- high school football in the state of Texas. We love our fans and they love it."
High school football in the state of Texas. On the biggest stage of his life, Brown remembered to give a shout-out to the high school coaches who raised his players. The gesture was symbolic of Brown's recruiting philosophy: He was always thinking ahead. No matter how history judges his final years, Brown will go down as a recruiting icon and innovator during his time at Texas.
He cared about recruiting kids who truly wanted to be at Texas. And for most of Brown's tenure, what in-state kid wouldn't?
Step into Brown's office, decorated with leather couches, trophies, rings and endless memorabilia, and good luck saying no when the man made his pitch or extended an offer.
"You can't say no to Coach Brown," DeSoto (Texas) High School coach Claude Mathis said. "He does a great job once you get the kids on campus and in the office."
That's just the aura Brown carried as the king of Texas football, and the foundation it was built upon was unmistakable. His wife, Sally, was a frequent presence at recruiting events, and together they sold recruits, parents and siblings on joining the close-knit Longhorns family.
Your average resignation news conference doesn’t include a school president having to answer whether regents forced out the head coach. The average ones don’t involve asking who’s actually hiring the next coach and whether that coach can reunify the fan base.
Texas is arguably the No. 1 college football job in the country. National brand, unparalleled resources, talent-rich recruiting base, gorgeous campus and city, and oh, by the way, a generous paycheck. It’s all there, a dream job in so many ways.
President Bill Powers and athletic director Steve Patterson won’t need to accept applications and résumés for this opening. They’ll go after the very best of the best in the coaching profession. They won’t have a hard time getting someone to take the gig.
But whoever does should know what he’s walking into. Brown hinted at this throughout the weekend.
When he put out a statement Saturday night declaring that his run was over, Brown alluded to the Texas program being “pulled in different directions” and that change was necessary.
A day later, he opened his news conference by referring back to a conversation he had with the late Darrell Royal when Brown took the job in the winter of 1997.
“There is such a diverse group that follows this football team that you have to pull them all together, and that is very difficult to do,” Brown said. “He said when you get them all together, it's wonderful and it's a powerful place. But when it is not, it is very divided and it is a very difficult place to manage.
“So he said it's like a box of BBs and the BBs are dropped all over the room. What you got to do is get all the BBs back in the box. And we were able to do that. We were able to do that for a long time, until 2010. And then, as of late, the BBs have gotten back out of the box.”
The BBs aren’t just the fans and season ticket-holders. They’re also the big-money donors and boosters, members of the UT System Board of Regents, the people who make up Texas’ athletic department and anyone else supporting the cause of Longhorn football.
And they all have a say. They have immense influence. That’s why Powers was asked whether the regents drove Brown out, which he denies. That’s why he had to declare Patterson is in charge of this hire.
Think Nick Saban faces “special pressures” as the owner and operator of the Alabama dynasty? They’re probably nothing like this. Did I mention that the regents could've voted Powers out last week, or that a current and former regent tried to make a run at landing Saban in January?
In Brown’s final four years at Texas, he lost 20 games and the faith and support of a strong faction of the fan base. The swirling negativity and vitriol wore on him, his coaches and his players, and was exacerbated with each loss, especially in 2013.
The atmosphere of home games noticeably worsened, to the point that the Longhorns typically played better on the road in recent years.
That’s why “energy” and “culture change” are two of the biggest buzzwords associated with what’s setting up to be a monumental hire for Texas. The new guy needs serious savvy, enthusiasm and a willingness to play politician when necessary.
And let’s not forget, that’s on top of the inherent pressure of replacing a coach who won 158 games in 16 seasons, of living and playing up to the standard Brown set during his tenure.
Texas is one of just eight programs in the country with a winning percentage above .750 in the past decade. Its next coach must lead the Longhorns back into the hunt for playoff berths and national championships as soon as possible.
If Royal were still around today, he’d likely offer the new guy the same advice he once gave Brown, after a long spiel about all the folks he’d need to impress at UT: “Oh, yeah: You need to win all the games.”
First, Brown’s successor will have to mend some fences. He’ll need to unify a fractured base. Winning is usually the most effective antidote, but it’ll take more than that.
The BBs don’t get back in the box all by themselves.
NEW YORK -- A tackle-machine linebacker, a tackle-busting running back and one of the most disruptive defensive tackles in the country made return appearances on The Associated Press All-America team.
The All-America teams were released Tuesday and selected by a panel of AP college football poll voters.
Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston from Florida State added All-American to his resume after a spectacular redshirt freshman season. Heisman finalists Andre Williams from Boston College and Northern Illinois' Jordan Lynch also made the first team. Williams joins Carey in the backfield and Lynch, the dual-threat quarterback, was chosen as an all-purpose player.
Carey, a junior, is second in the nation in rushing after leading last year, but said he thinks he's a better player now.
"I worked hard to improve my speed and strength in the offseason while keeping my speed," Carey said. "I put on 10 pounds of weight and I think that's helped my durability. I also wanted to be a better blocker away from the ball. Blocking for our quarterback and our receivers is key to our system and it's important that I do my part even when I'm not carrying the ball."
- The Sooners players talked highly of departing Texas coach Mack Brown. Kansas coach Charlie Weis is sorry to see Brown go. The Oklahoman looks at Brown's memorable victories over Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. The Dallas Morning News collected fan reaction on Brown's decision to resign.
- The Oklahoman's Erik Horne thinks Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy should be getting looks for the Texas job. The paper's Berry Tramel offers up 25 candidates to replace Brown.
- Texas Tech assistant Sonny Cumbie discussed his decision to leave Tech to become the QB coach and co-offensive coordinator at TCU, in this radio interview with Double T 104.3-FM's Chris Level.
- Three-star recruit Ty Summers explains to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Travis L. Brown why he flipped his commitment from Rice to TCU.
- Trevor Knight should be Oklahoma's starting QB against Alabama, in the opinion of The Oklahoman's Jenni Carlson, but coach Bob Stoops isn't saying who will start. Sooners cornerback Aaron Colvin talks about giving Oklahoma State fans the business, in an interview with the Tulsa World's John E. Hoover.
- Iowa State picked up an OG junior-college commitment and a high school DB verbal. The Cyclones are getting more TV exposure, according to the Des Moines Register's Andrew Logue.
- The Jayhawks snagged a junior-college defensive back commitment.
- Oklahoma State QB Clint Chelf and LB Shaun Lewis took home the team's major awards.
- Central Florida is struggling to sell tickets for its Tostitos Fiesta Bowl matchup with Baylor. Art Briles' coaching staff has been busy -- the Bears have pulled in three junior college commitments already this week.
But that doesn’t mean the Big 12 is bereft of young talent that impacted this season. And to underscore that, we put together our All-Big 12 underclassman team (freshmen and sophomores).
This team is based on 2013 performance, not future potential -- though many on this list also have bright futures.
So, without further ado, the ESPN.com 2013 All-Big 12 underclassman team:
QB: Daniel Sams, Kansas State
RB: Johnathan Gray, Texas
RB: Shock Linwood, Baylor
WR: Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma
WR: Jakeem Grant, Texas Tech
WR: Quenton Bundrage, Iowa State
OT: Le’Raven Clark, Texas Tech
OG: Cody Whitehair, Kansas State
C: Joey Hunt, TCU
OG: Desmine Hilliard, Baylor
OT: Spencer Drango, Baylor
AP: Trevone Boykin, TCU
DE: Charles Tapper, Oklahoma
DT: Travis Britz, Kansas State
DT: Malcom Brown, Texas
DE: Shawn Oakman, Baylor
LB: Eric Striker, Oklahoma
LB: Dalton Santos, Texas
LB: Dominique Alexander, Oklahoma
CB: Kevin Peterson, Oklahoma State
S: Isaiah Johnson, Kansas
S: Chris Hackett, TCU
CB: Zack Sanchez, Oklahoma
K: Jared Oberkrom, TCU
P: Nick O’Toole, West Virginia
PR/KR: B.J. Catalon, TCU
PR/KR: Daje Johnson, Texas
With 50 days from national signing day, a lot of questions about star players have been answered. Some questions, however, are still left to be answered.
Here are 10 signing day storylines that could affect recruiting classes throughout the Big 12:
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This is not a final list, just an early rundown of who we know that has decided where to showcase their skills in front of the NFL scouts.
REESE'S SENIOR BOWL (Jan. 25, Mobile, Ala.)
- Mike Davis, WR, Texas
- Ahmad Dixon, S, Baylor
- Jalen Saunders, WR, Oklahoma
- Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
- Kirby Van Der Camp, P, Iowa State
- Aaron Colvin, CB, Oklahoma
Also, TCU quarterback Casey Pachall will take part in the inaugural Medal of Honor Bowl on Jan. 11 in Charleston, S.C.
2. The SuperBowlification of the College Football Playoff is here, now that the Metroplex and Tampa Bay, two non-BCS bowl sites, have secured two of the first three championship games. That’s not a bad thing. It stands to reason that the commissioners will take the championship game to domes in the snow belt, like Indianapolis or Detroit, to name two in the Big Ten footprint. It’s healthy for the game to move it around, and if it comes off looking like a mini-Super Bowl, so what?
3. In case you thought the end of Mack Brown’s coaching career at Texas is a sign of how much pressure is placed on the modern-day football coach: When Oklahoma hired Bud Wilkinson in 1947, his father told him, “No matter how successful he may be, every coach eventually reaches a point where a lot of people want somebody else.” It is a price that nearly every coach pays, and it can be a harsh one.
The Class of 2013 is in the stretch run. With just 50 days until national signing day, there are plenty of developments and questions in the lead-up to Feb. 5. From top uncommitted players to class rankings predictions, this is everything you'll need to know.
Questions to ponder
50. Who is next at Texas, and when? The choice as new Longhorns coach will be key for future classes, but the timing of the hire is also important as there are quite a few commitments targeted by other teams that are now hanging by a thread with each passing day -- dead period or not.
49. Will Maryland close with a bang? This one is simple: keep No. 15 Jalen Tabor (Washington, D.C./Friendship Collegiate Academy) and No. 26 Damian Prince (Forestville, Md./Bishop McNamara) home and it's a big bang.
We've all experienced at least one crazy, tempestuous relationship, right? It was toxic yet also sometimes thrilling beyond measure. The highs were extraordinary, and the lows miserable. There were raving arguments full of frenzied recriminations, but somehow you stayed together for a surprisingly long time. Alas, eventually, sanity prevailed and you went your separate ways.
On Jan. 6 at midnight, college football will break up with the BCS after a tumultuous 16 seasons. The sport will move on to a new relationship in 2014 with the four-team College Football Playoff. This one promises to be more stable and mature.
So as we move toward this inevitable split, how do we feel? We know this is for the best, but certainly there will be some bittersweetness to the parting.
The BCS, after all, stopped us from ending seasons the way we ended 1997, when twin unbeatens Michigan and Nebraska eyeballed each other from across the country because the old bowl system didn't allow them to settle things on the field. Simply, the BCS tried to find the best way to put the Nos. 1 and 2 teams together for a winner-take-all game, which, at the time of its creation, seemed like a great idea. While it was unquestionably an imperfect system, it gave us Texas' 41-38 win over USC in 2006, which might well be the greatest college football game ever played. It also gave us Ohio State's shocking double-overtime win over a seemingly invincible Miami squad in 2003, which has a spot on the same list.
Valero Alamo Bowl
San Antonio, Dec. 30, 3:45 p.m. (PT), ESPN
Oregon (10-2) vs. Texas (8-4)
Coach: Mack Brown (16th season)
Record: 8-4, 7-2 Big 12
Combined opponents' record: 76-68 (.527)
Common opponents: None.
Leading passer: Case McCoy, 179-312-1,885 (57.4 percent) with 11 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
Leading rusher: Johnathan Gray (injured), 159-780 with four touchdowns.
Leading receiver: Mike Davis, 49-715 with eight touchdowns.
Leading tackler: Jackson Jeffcoat, 80 tackles, 21 tackles for a loss, 12 sacks.
What to know: Texas has been in the news lately. Perhaps you’ve heard? After compiling a 158-47 record at Texas, Brown is stepping down after the Alamo Bowl. That heaps a healthy dose of emotion on to this game as his players will no doubt be looking to win one last one for Mack.
Even before Gray went down for the rest of the year with an Achilles injury in the OT win over West Virginia in early November, Malcolm Brown was already starting to get a good chunk of the running workload. He has rushed for 774 yards and nine touchdowns on 188 carries (4.1 average).
After starting the year 1-2, which included losses to BYU and Ole Miss, the Longhorns rallied to run off six straight -- including a seemingly-unlikely win (at least at the time) over No. 12 Oklahoma.
But they lost two of their last three to ranked Oklahoma State and Baylor, giving them a mark of 1-3 against ranked teams this season.
This is a question of motivation for the Ducks, who have to be lamenting missing out on a fifth-straight BCS bowl game after Oklahoma was selected ahead of them for the Allstate Sugar Bowl. On paper, the Ducks are the superior team. It’s just a question of whether they can suppress that disappointment and not let Texas get too caught up in the emotion of Brown’s departure.
Key matchup: As is always the case when you play Oregon, how are you going to stop the run? That’s something Texas hasn’t been very good at this season. The Longhorns rank 80th in the country, yielding 180.3 yards per game on the ground. They’ve also given up 21 rushing touchdowns and allow 4.2 yards per carry. The Ducks average 278.3 yards per game on the ground, which ranks ninth nationally. And all eyes should be on Jeffcoat. Depth-wise, the Longhorns are hurting defensively and are down to about three linebackers and a couple of defensive tackles. Brown said at one point he feels like they lost eight to 10 of his best players to injury. But Oregon shouldn't get too cocky. Jeffcoat is legit. Lest we forget another defensive end from Texas who spoiled the bowl hopes of a team from Oregon last year.
Best Moments From The BCS
BIG 12 SCOREBOARD
2:00 PM ET Washington State Colorado State 3:30 PM ET 20 Fresno State 25 USC 5:30 PM ET Buffalo San Diego State 9:00 PM ET Tulane Louisiana-Lafayette
6:00 PM ET Pittsburgh Bowling Green 9:30 PM ET Utah State 23 Northern Illinois
2:30 PM ET Marshall Maryland 6:00 PM ET Syracuse Minnesota 9:30 PM ET Brigham Young Washington
12:00 PM ET Rutgers Notre Dame 3:20 PM ET Cincinnati North Carolina 6:45 PM ET Miami (FL) 18 Louisville 10:15 PM ET Michigan Kansas State
11:45 AM ET Middle Tennessee Navy 3:15 PM ET Ole Miss Georgia Tech 6:45 PM ET 10 Oregon Texas 10:15 PM ET 14 Arizona State Texas Tech
12:30 PM ET Arizona Boston College 2:00 PM ET Virginia Tech 17 UCLA 4:00 PM ET Rice Mississippi State 8:00 PM ET 24 Duke 21 Texas A&M
12:00 PM ET Nebraska 22 Georgia 12:00 PM ET UNLV North Texas 1:00 PM ET Iowa 16 LSU 1:00 PM ET 19 Wisconsin 9 South Carolina 5:00 PM ET 5 Stanford 4 Michigan State 8:30 PM ET 15 UCF 6 Baylor
7:30 PM ET 13 Oklahoma State 8 Missouri 8:30 PM ET 12 Clemson 7 Ohio State