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The Countdown

A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.

Coaching Moves

Elephant Gone, Replaced by Another

Well, that was awkward. At least it’s over: Greg Davis and Mac McWhorter are no longer part of the program in Austin, allowing Mack Brown to finally right the ship offensively. One would think, at least. The biggest issue was never whether Brown would relieve Davis and McWhorter of their duties; the writing had been on the walls for weeks, even if Davis plugged along as if little had changed. The big issue is not who Texas lost, but rather who Brown tabs to replace two of his most loyal offensive assistants. That’s the new elephant in the room, now that Davis and McWhorter have left the building. I can see it now: Dana Holgorsen.

Yes, Holgorsen. But not as offensive coordinator: as quarterbacks coach. Gus Malzahn will be the offensive coordinator, of course, with Jason Garrett stepping down from the Dallas Cowboys to coach the wide receivers.

Major Applewhite will remain the running backs coach, while Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz will move into McWhorter’s vacant spot as the U.T. offensive line coach.¬†Dream staff complete, Texas will run roughshod over the rest of the new, 10-team Big 12 before dispatching Oregon with ease in the B.C.S. title game.

Never say never — though the above scenario is made with tongue firmly in cheek, obviously. Why wouldn’t Holgorsen answer the call should Brown come calling? It couldn’t hurt for Texas to inquire, though Brown should keep one thought in mind before offering Holgorsen free rein on the offensive side of the ball: it’s vital that U.T. create an offensive identity, not make a quick fix.

For all his talents — and I thought he should have won the Broyles Award this fall — Holgorsen has his eyes on a larger prize; Texas might be wiser to add a coach with staying power, not one looking for another addition to an already impressive resume.

Not to say that Holgorsen wouldn’t do wonderfully with the Longhorns. He most certainly would, in fact. Yet if Texas wants to develop more longterm plans — perhaps find the offensive equivalent of a Will Muschamp — the Longhorns should look at a coordinator already familiar to several key members of the program: Tulsa’s Chad Morris.

If Malzahn is the gold standard of offensive coordinators on the F.B.S. level, Morris might very well be the next-best thing. Like Malzahn and Holgorsen, he runs a no-huddle offense predicated on speed, speed and speed: run up the line of scrimmage, run the play, run up to the line of scrimmage, repeat. Unlike either of that pair, however, Morris’s offense at Tulsa exhibited tremendous balance — not that Auburn cannot pass the ball when asked, or that Oklahoma State can’t run the ball with consistency when called upon.

Apples and oranges, perhaps. Nevertheless, only one program in the F.B.S. ranked in the top 16 nationally in both rushing and passing in 2010: Tulsa. Under first-year coordinator Chad Morris. Asked to duplicate the Malzahn magic, Morris delivered. Run and pass — especially run — in equal measure? Offensive balance strong enough to keep the rest of the Big 12 guessing? That sounds like music to Mack Brown’s ears, right? Well, it gets better.

One of Morris’s prized pupils on the Texas high school ranks was Garrett Gilbert: educated in the no-huddle offense, Gilbert’s potential lies in that offensive philosophy, not the dumbed-down version Texas ran this past season. Seeing that Gilbert is the future of the U.T. offense, reuniting him with Morris seems like a smart move.

As for the offensive line: bring in Herb Hand, formerly of Vanderbilt — and Tulsa. Hand coached alongside Malzahn for two years with the Golden Hurricanes, technically serving as co-offensive coordinator, though it was clear that Malzahn was responsible for the in-game play-calling. Can’t get Malzahn? Scared off by Holgorsen? Texas should go for the closest thing to that pair, and it should do as quickly as possible; if the Longhorns don’t nab up Morris, someone else will.

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  1. [...] Here’s a hiring suggestion from Paul [...]

  2. Salt Pillar says:

    Although Holgorsen is intriguing, rumors are that he has a personal history a bit too similar to what got Cleve Bryant put on administrative leave which has the Longhorn brass running. I realize that’s a crass unfounded rumor, but there it is.

    What about Lincoln Riley? He seems like an interesting choice. Young, squeaky clean, ambitious and from the Leach tree.

  3. Salt Pillar says:

    Also UT’s Fan Take blog is saying Holgorsen is about to be gobbled up by Florida unless T. Boone sells one of his gold plated toilets to bump his salary. Because one unfounded Holgorsen rumor wasn’t enough today …

  4. Burnt Orange says:

    Bob Bostad – Wisconsin Offensive Line Coach and Run Game Coordinator. I keep thinking if I say and post it enough, it will happen. If Texas can pay Cleve Bryant $267,000 annually ( not to mention what Cleve’s wife is paid) to jack around in a non coaching position to the point where Gloria Allred is knocking at the door, what is someone like Bostad worth?

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