From Tuberville's 'pine box' to Graham's mercenaries, Schlossnagle is the latest college coach to bolt after ignominious last words

New Texas Longhorns baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle has had quite the week.

Last Monday, he was one win away from leading Texas A&M to its first national title. The Aggies fell to the Tennessee Volunteers 6-5 in the decisive game at Omaha’s Charles Schwab Field, but Schlossnagle’s night didn’t end after the final out. During a postgame news conference, he was asked about “a specific job opening” — the Longhorn job two hours down the road had opened up earlier in the day — where he gave an answer highlighted by the following statement:

“I took the job at Texas A&M to never take another job again.”

Less than 24 hours later, buzz emerged that Schlossnagle had taken the Texas job. The news was officially announced on Tuesday night. He was back in front of the media answering questions about his answers from two days prior on Wednesday — this time in Austin.

There are a few lines in college sports that rarely get crossed. The interstate feud between the Aggies and Longhorns is one of them. Schlossnagle’s much-ballyhooed saga was reminiscent of college football’s yearly coaching carousel, where there have been more than a few instances of coaches departing after infamous soon-to-be last words. Here are some coaches leaving after memorable quotes suggesting otherwise.

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Lincoln Riley: “I’m not going to be the next head coach at LSU”

Year: 2021

Coaching path: Oklahoma to USC

In fairness, Riley was 100% correct when he emphatically shut down any rumors of him taking the LSU job during a Saturday night news conference after a 37-33 Bedlam loss to the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

The catch? By Sunday night, he had been announced as the head coach at USC. Star quarterback Caleb Williams followed Riley to Los Angeles from Norman. He would become a Heisman winner in the pairing’s first year in Southern California en route to an 11-1 regular season record. The Trojans fell to 7-5 in year two, however.

Brian Kelly: “Unless that fairy Godmother comes by with that $250 million check

Year: 2021

Coaching path: Notre Dame to LSU

LSU didn’t land Riley to run the show in Baton Rouge, but athletic director Scott Woodward wasn’t done hunting in the carousel. Enter then-Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, who was wrapping up his fifth consecutive 10+ win season with the Irish.

Kelly had previously joked after a senior day win over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in late November that it would have taken $250 million (as well as approval from his wife) to lure him away from South Bend. The Tigers couldn’t go that high, but they did muster up a 10-year, $95 million deal that evidently caught Kelly’s eye. The veteran head coach is now 20-7 across two seasons on the Bayou.

Steve Sarkisian: “We are doing something special here”

Year: 2013

Coaching path: Washington to USC

Before Steve Sarkisian helped build Texas into a College Football Playoff contender, the California native spent his early years as a coach on the West Coast. Sarkisian’s first head coaching gig came at Washington, following a successful stint as quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator at USC.

Midway through his fifth season with the Huskies, the top gig opened up back at USC, also Sarkisian’s alma mater. Rumors abounded that Sarkisian would be heading back to Los Angeles. The former Trojan shut those rumors in October by saying he hoped to coach Washington even longer than Don James, who spent 18 years in Seattle.

By the second day of December, Sarkisian was the head coach at USC.

Todd Graham: “Nothing but mercenaries”

Year: 2011

Coaching path: Pittsburgh to Arizona State

Graham boasts a unique spot in the pantheon of coaching carousel infamy. After one season with the Rice Owls the former Tulsa defensive coordinator bolted back to the Golden Hurricanes to accept the head coaching job there — two days after signing a contract extension with the Owls.

Four years later in Pittsburgh, Graham took off after another one-year stint at a gig. Following the conclusion of the 2011 campaign, three of Graham’s assistants on his Panther staff decamped for jobs across the country in Arizona. Graham blasted the trio as “nothing but mercenaries.” Two weeks later, though, he accepted the head coaching role at Arizona State.

Nick Saban: “I’m not going to be the Alabama coach”

Year: 2006

Coaching path: Miami Dolphins to Alabama

It would be difficult for Saban to have put things more bluntly than he did in December of 2006, with rumors abuzz that the Crimson Tide were targeting the then-Dolphins coach to take over for the recently-fired Mike Shula.

Saban’s frank statement proved to be just words, however. The former national champion at LSU returned to the SEC to take the Alabama job weeks later, and the rest was history. Saban would win a national championship in his third year in Tuscaloosa, the start of a dynasty that would include five more national titles.

Bobby Petrino: “I want to make clear that I’m not interested in any other coaching jobs”

Year: 2003-2007

Coaching path: Louisville to (eventually) Atlanta Falcons

Petrino developed quite the reputation for looking elsewhere while coaching the Cardinals. In 2003, he denied being linked with a potential opening with the Auburn Tigers, before apologizing after it emerged that he met with officials from the school.

In 2004, he gave the “I’m not interested” line and signed a new contract in Louisville — before admitting days later he met with LSU officials about their opening. In the summer of 2006, he offered another affirmation of his commitment to the Cardinals saying “this is where I want to be” after another contract extension offer.

Six months later, Petrino took a job in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons.

Tommy Tuberville: “They’ll have to carry me out of here in a pine box”

Year: 1998

Coaching path: Ole Miss to Auburn

Perhaps the most famous instance of a coach departing after conflicting last words, Tuberville offered as definitive of an assurance to Rebel fans as he could muster that he was happy with his job — joking that he’d only leave Oxford “in a pine box” when he was dead.

Tuberville presumably traveled in a more conventional manner when he headed across the Alabama/Mississippi border days later, en route to take the Auburn job.

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