It’s been less than a month since it began, thankfully for most, and yet the hemorrhaging from the University of Texas football program continues. In the short time since the Longhorns ended their disastrous 5-7 season, head coach Mack Brown has gone from an in-control-of-the-program CEO to looking like Scotty Smalls trying to make friends and play backyard baseball in The Sandlot. In other words, he’s got some work to do…and fast.
Up until last week, the Longhorns had seen four coaches depart since November – offensive coordinator Greg Davis, offensive line coach Mac McWhorter, defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, and defensive line coach Mike Tolleson. But, to put a wrapper on 2010, wide receiver coach Bobby Kennedy expectedly resigned on Dec. 30 to make a lateral move to be the University of Colorado’s wide receiver coach. Make that five.
Throughout a tumultuous December, Longhorn fans across the country spread coaching hire rumors as fast as they could drink a bottle of Salt Lick BBQ sauce. They threw around more names than Santa Claus could rattle off reindeer names. And yet the New Year passed with nothing from the halls Belmont. What exactly was Mack Brown doing over there? Had we been naughty and not nice?
On Monday and Tuesday this week, fans began to get some answers – albeit not quite the names or coordinator-level titles fans were expecting. The first presser of 2011 brought us Darrell Wyatt as the new wide receiver coach and co-recruiting coordinator, and you can watch Wyatt’s introductory press conference here. Wyatt is a Texas-born Kansas State alumnus who is a get-to-the-point coach with credible Big 12 Conference experience and has been both a wide receiver coach, offensive coordinator, not to mention recruiting extraordinaire. The problem might be, he’s a gypsy of sorts – making his rounds year-after-year – to different schools around the country, including Kansas (most recently), Baylor, oklahoma, and Oklahoma State…and those are just his Big 12 Conference stops. In fact, he’s coached at 14 different universities in his 21 years of coaching. That said, Wyatt can downright get kids to come play for him and turn them in to top-tier talent – see also Adrian Peterson (oklahoma), Mark Clayton (oklahoma), Rashaun Woods (Oklahoma State), and Mike Thomas (Arizona). He’s recruited from Texas for most of his coaching tenure, including the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex, Houston and East Texas, and Central Texas. It’s an exciting addition, and ‘Horns fans can be assured that Wyatt will turn out as much talent to the next level as former offensive coordinator Greg Davis ruined. Another positive for Wyatt – his youth and energy. Brown’s talked about it, and now it’s coming to fruition – a much-needed addition to the retirement home-bound staff that had been residing in Austin the past few seasons.
In addition to Wyatt, Mack Brown also announced Bo Davis, who has served as a Nick Saban disciple at LSU, the Miami Dolphins, and Alabama, is joining the Texas Longhorns staff, making a lateral move to become the ‘Horns defensive line coach. During his tenure with the Crimson Tide, Davis has had a top-10 defense year-in and year-out in one of the toughest conferences in the country, and he has had several defensive lineman become all-conference or all-American players. Prior to joining the ranks of Saban’s various staffs across the southeast, Davis spent several years coaching at Galena Park North Shore High School in Texas, including coaching former Longhorn DE Cory Redding, and has relationships with high schools across the state. Given his background as an LSU alumnus and assistant, Davis also brings inroads to the top high schools in Louisiana.
The question now becomes whether Brown is making random hires that he hopes work well together under his tutelage. It seems odd, to this writer anyway, to hire position coaches when the coordinator positions are still up in the air. At least, publically still up in the air. Maybe Brown’s got his CEO house in order, has lined up more than we know behind the scenes, and has everything but signatures on the dotted line. Maybe he’s building a staff based on input from those to-be-named resources.
Rumors are circulating that leading candidates for the offensive and defensive coordinator positions are also in Austin interviewing this week. While many expected Teryl Austin (Florida), Everett Withers (North Carolina), or even former Longhorn Jerry Gray (Seattle Seahawks), to be leading defensive coordinator candidates, it appears as though Brown is after another young, energetic SEC coach instead – none other than Mississippi State’s Manny Diaz. Diaz would be an interesting hire, but to look at what he’s done with a middle-of-the-road SEC team only means he could flourish with the talent in Texas. On the offensive side of the ball, many have considered Boise State or Wisconsin’s coaching gurus to be the focus of the search, and that seems to be more or less true, as the Badgers offensive coordinator Paul Chryst is supposedly the top target. But, don’t rule out the Broncos’ OC, although it sounds like he wants some of his boys (namely, his offensive line coach) to come along for the ride if he signs a contract to come to Austin.
Only time will tell, but as the college bowl season wraps up and the recruiting window opens up again leading in to Signing Day in early February, it’s due time to name some coaching talent and get them in Austin and on the road solidifying what is and could still be the #1 recruiting class in 2011.