Texas’ Offseason Coaching Carousel


If you’ve been following Texas football recently, you’ve likely come across a plethora of new, unfamiliar names. Oh and there’s also 24 new recruits for the 2016 class.

But the turnover even more critical to the success of the Longhorns in 2016 and beyond involves the new khaki-clad crew stalking the sidelines next to head coach Charlie Strong and inside the coaches box at DKR. Aside from defensive coordinator Vance Bedford and linebackers coach Brian Jean-Mary, Strong’s entire staff has turned over entering his third year at Texas.

First, as anticipated, former co-offensive coordinators Joe Wickline and Shawn Watson—both stripped of play-calling duties after an anemic offensive effort against Notre Dame to open 2015—were not retained following Texas’ final game in December. Oklahoma State’s lawsuit against Wickline has finally been settled, and he’s the new OC at Big 12 rival West Virginia. Watson hasn’t found a new job yet.

Replacing that duo is Sterlin Gilbert and Matt Mattox, formerly of Tulsa, with the former calling plays as OC and the latter coaching the offensive line. While the hires were initially met with some hesitance—Strong couldn’t land his first choice, TCU’s Sonny Cumbie—Texas’ strong finish on National Signing Day has silenced most critics. It’s hard to argue with a top-10 class.

Next out was Tommie Robinson, former USC running backs coach and holder of the same position at Texas for the past two seasons. The 30-year coaching veteran returned to Southern California on January 18, seen as a blow to recruiting as National Signing Day approached. It didn’t seem to have much of a negative impact, as Katy’s Kyle Porter, long linked to TCU, committed to Texas despite having been recruited by Robinson and defensive backs coach Chris Vaughn.

Replacing Robinson is former Texas RB Anthony Johnson, who played the position from 2001-05 under Mack Brown. After his hire this past weekend, Johnson said, “I spent a lot of time with Sterlin, Matt, and Jeff (Traylor), and I feel like I really connected with them. They’re all tremendous football coaches with a great vision for what they want to accomplish.” Getting in sync with the new faces of the Texas offense is important. Having D’Onta Foreman, Chris Warren III, Kirk Johnson, and now Porter at what looks like an insanely deep RB corps is the dream.

Defensive backs coach Chris Vaughn is gone, rumored to have been let go because of his connection to an ongoing NCAA probe at Ole Miss, his former employer. The Statesman‘s Brian Davis reported last week:

It’s believed NCAA investigators have “a thick file” on Vaughn from his time as an Ole Miss assistant from 2008 to 2011, a UT source told the American-Statesman. The source said Texas officials have no reason to believe Vaughn did anything improper with the Longhorns.

Former Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt later defended Vaughn on Sirius XM radio, saying, “Let me tell you something about Chris Vaughn: There’s not one crooked bone in his body.” Nutt indicated that he thought Vaughn was being “scapegoated,” but also that Vaughn had hired a lawyer and was being questioned by the NCAA. Vaughn’s contract, signed in 2014, was guaranteed for two years. Texas held the option for a third year, which it did not pick up.

In December, wide receivers coach and OC replacing Watson/Wickline Jay Norvell interviewed with Arizona State, as it became apparent that Texas was recruiting a new permanent OC from outside the program. Nothing came of it until last Thursday when, on the same day Vaughn was let go, ESPN reported that Norvell was indeed joining ASU’s staff, in a likely lateral move.

Orangebloods’ Anwar Richardson reported yesterday that Charlie Williams, a 30-year coaching veteran who was most recently the wide receivers coach for the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, will replace Norvell in the same position. Vaughn’s replacement has not yet been named.

That’s five coaches who’ve departed this offseason, which is alarming on its face, until you consider that Wickline, Watson, and Norvell were all widely expected to be off Strong’s staff as soon as the season ended. Hell, Texas is lucky it wasn’t six, as it was rumored in December that tight ends/special teams coach Jeff Traylor would interview for the open head coach position at Texas State. And if another one of Richardson’s reports from yesterday is accurate, Texas A&M has made an offer to defensive line coach Brick Haley, who, according to Richardson, which was then matched by Texas. If Haley bolts for A&M—to work under DC John Chavis, his boss at LSU from 2009-14—that’d be six. Robinson and Vaughn were surprises—highly involved in 2016’s vaunted recruiting class, to say the very least—but as even the eminently loyal Strong has shown, no one is irreplaceable in college football.

Photo of Strong at Gilbert and Mattox’s introductory press conference courtesy Texas Athletics.


Tags: , , ,


No comments

Be the first one to leave a comment.

Post a Comment