Coaching Hot Board – Movement at the top
Orangebloods.com Editor (Great Website)
The Longhorns officially have three openings on the coaching staff, and speculation is running wild on which guys could step in to fill the vacant roles. Officials at Texas have indicated that Mack Brown is not likely to name any successors until after the bowl season, but that hasn’t stopped the rumor mill from pumping out names and information on an hourly basis.
Below is a list of names we feel are top candidates to join the Longhorn coaching staff. We’ll updates this board regularly as new information becomes available.
About Austin: A longtime defensive backs coach, Austin made the move to defensive coordinator for Florida in 2010, his first ever stint in a coordinator role. The Gators’ season wasn’t filled with highlights, but Austin’s defense did play well overall, with little help from the offense. Florida ranked ninth nationally in total yards (302.9 yards per game).
Austin has 20 years of coaching experience, including 13 at the collegiate level and seven as an NFL defensive backs coach with the Arizona Cardinals (2007-09) and Seattle Seahawks (2003-06). He helped lead both Seattle and Arizona into the Super Bowl as NFC Champions. In 2007, Austin’s secondary helped the Cardinals lead the NFL in interception returns for touchdowns (six) and in return yardage (551).
A three-year starter and four-year letterman at Pittsburgh (1984-87), Austin participated in the 1984 Fiesta and the 1987 Bluebonnet Bowls.
Why he fits: Austin’s a young coach that has earned the respect of his peers in working his way into the Florida coordinator position. He doesn’t have any direct ties to the current UT staff, but Austin did coach with current Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell while at Wake Forest from 1993-95. Caldwell and Mack Brown have a very good relationship and Brown has picked Caldwell’s brain on various football elements in recent years.
Potential hurdles: The biggest issue people will have with Austin is his inexperience as a defensive coordinator. He has only one year under his belt, but he did turn in a solid season at Florida in 2010.
Latest buzz: Things have remained pretty quiet on Monday evening, but Austin certainly fits the fine print on the Texas job posting in terms of the listed preferred qualifications ( Minimum twelve years coaching experience in a university 1-A program. Minimum 7 years experience coaching in the NFL. Experience coaching at a BCS school). With Texas having posted it’s d-coordinator position (and none of the other coaching positions), it stands to reason that the program has identified its guy and posted that spot so it could get a contract signed after the five-day waiting period is up.
About Shannon: After a 7-5 season in 2010, Shannon was fired as head coach at Miami in late November. Shannon served as the head football coach for the Hurricanes from 2007-2010. In his tenure, the Hurricanes went 28-22. Prior to being named the Miami head coach in 2006, Shannon served as the program’s defensive coordinator for six seasons. He coached top-10 defenses in five of those six seasons.
A former Hurricanes player, Shannon played on or was a coach for three of the school’s five national championship teams. He played for the Hurricanes from 1985 through 1988 and had been an assistant coach for 13 seasons before being named the 20th head coach in school history. In his six seasons as defensive coordinator, the Hurricanes had seven All-America players (and he tutored eight other All-Americans as a position coach). As a head coach and defensive coordinator, he coached 14 defensive players who were selected in the first round of the NFL draft.
Why he fits: Shannon is a terrific defensive coordinator who enjoyed tremendous success at Miami in leading the Hurricane defense. He’s young, he’s energetic and he would come right in and gain immediate respect from the current Longhorn commitments. As much as losing Will Muschamp hurts, getting Shannon would be a tremendous replacement.
Potential hurdles: Not many. Shannon’s name came up as a possible UT defensive coordinator candidate a couple years ago but it never worked out (he was even reported to have accepted the job by one major newspaper). In fact, he was never really close to getting the position. Shannon’s a Miami guy through and through, so no word on if he’d be willing to make the move to the Lone Star State or how he’d fit in.
Latest buzz: There was all kinds of speculation on Saturday and Sunday that Shannon was right at the top of UT’s wish list, but there’s been no real concrete information linking him to the job. Sources indicated over the weekend that Mack Brown has told some folks that he has four people on his list of DC candidates. Shannon would figure to be in that mix, but he and Brown had no relationship prior to this week.
About Applewhite: After a record-setting playing career at Texas and two very successful coaching stints at Rice and Alabama, Applewhite returned to the Forty Acres in 2008 under his current title. As offensive coordinator at Alabama in 2007, Applewhite was the youngest coordinator in the NCAA FBS at just 29 years old. In Applewhite’s one year at Alabama, the Crimson Tide bounced back from a losing season in 2006 to post a 7-6 record under first-year coach Nick Saban. Under his guidance, Alabama improved its offensive output by nearly 40 yards per game (335.9 to 373.8) and increased its scoring from 22.9 points per game to 27.1.
Prior to his stint at Alabama, Applewhite spent one year as OC/quarterbacks coach at Rice in 2006 where, as the youngest coordinator in NCAA Division I, he led an offense that scored the most points (350) and gained the third-most yards (4,486) in the program’s history. In that season, Rice produced a 1,000-yard rusher, passer and receiver for the first time in history and earned its first bowl bid since 1961. Applewhite also spent a year at Syracuse (QB coach) and served as a graduate assistant coach at Texas and worked with the offensive line for two seasons (2003-04).
Why he fits: Applewhite has always been regarded a sharp offensive mind, going back to his playing days at Texas. A player who didn’t have the physical skills as other quarterbacks who have come through the UT program, Applewhite was a cerebral player who helped build the foundation for Mack Brown’s success. He’s a tireless recruiter and he’s had success as an offensive coordinator previously. His ties to the program are obvious and there was thought when he made the move to Austin that his long-term future was at OC.
Potential hurdles: Applewhite is still a bit of an unknown as an offensive coordinator, and there’s some thought that Texas could be looking for a big-splash hire that is currently operating a high-powered offense. There’s talk that at Alabama, Applewhite wasn’t given full control of the offense and then Rice head coach Todd Graham is given much of the credit for the offensive success the Owls enjoyed.
Latest buzz: Lots of talk last week about Applewhite being a top candidate for the UT offensive coordinator position but things really got thrown for a loop with Muschamp’s departure. Will Muschamp try to take Applewhite with him? Will Major be content to stay on at Texas as RB coach? Or, does Texas have to give him (at least) a co-offensive coordinator title to keep him in Austin? Lots of scenarios that could play out on this one.
Applewhite was on the road recruiting last week and he’s back on the road this week. People we talked prior to the Muschamp news said Applewhite certainly wants the UT OC job if it’s offered, but it’s our understanding that he has not been given any official word of a decision by Mack Brown. In fact, a couple people we’ve talked to late last week said Applewhite hadn’t heard a peep in regards to which way Mack Brown could be leaning. Basically, if he’s the guy with the “inside track,” as has been so widely speculated, it’s news to him. That may have changed in the hours since Muschamp has packed up and left, but players inside the program have not heard either. Mack Brown, as always, is keeping a tight lid on any and all information.
Early last week, a top source indicated to us that the OC job would be posted, which could open up the possibility of someone from outside the program getting the top spot, but Applewhite’s name has been consistently brought up when talking to people about the top candidates. Speculation? Fact? How much does Muschamp’s decision change things? It’s really anyone’s guess at this point.
About McElwain: McElwain was named Alabama’s OC and QB coach in 2008. Running a balanced attack led by terrific tailbacks, McElwain helped the Crimson Tide to a 12-2 mark in year one and a 14-0 mark in 2009, which featured a unit that totaled more yards from scrimmage than any offense In Alabama history (5,642). ?
McElwain has featured very balanced offenses during his time at Alabama. In 2010, the Crimson Tide ranked 36th nationally in rushing offense, 28th in passing defense, 27th in total offense and 21st in scoring offense. In Alabama’s 2009 nationally championship run, in Tide utilized Heisman Trophy winning running back Mark Ingram in both the run and pass game, including plenty of work from the “wildcat” formation. Alabama ranked 12th nationally in rushing yards per game (215.1) and 22nd in the country in scoring (32.1 ppg).
Why he fits: McElwain has experience and he runs a very balanced attack, which Mack Brown consistently lists as a top goal for the Texas offense. He also has a head-to-head national title win over Texas in his belt, so you know the UT staff is very familiar with him.
Potential hurdles: Again, if Texas is looking for someone who will bring in a lot of ingenuity, McElwain probably isn’t the guy. He’s fairly conservative compared to some coaches on the list, and Alabama’s passing game has been very average under his leadership.
Latest buzz: Earlier this week, sources closes to the situation indicated to Orangebloods.com that Texas had reached out to gauge the interest of McElwain. Reporters in Alabama heard the same thing. But that was when Will Muschamp was still part of the Texas staff, and it’s reasonable to think those feelers may have been pulled back with this weekend’s developments. If McElwain does have an interest, which is not yet known, one would presume it would be the Horns’ lone offensive coordinator.
About Harsin: A 10-year member member of the Boise State staff, Harsin has been in charge of the Broncos offense and QBs for the last five years. At 34 years old, he’s one of the youngest coordinators in the country and he’s regarded as one of the sharpest young minds in all of college football. In 2010, Boise State finished fourth nationally in total offense (519.5 ypg) and second in scoring offense (46.7 ppg). Harsin helped put together the most potent scoring offense in the country in 2009, as the Broncos averaged an NCAA best 42.21 points per game. In 2007, Boise State finished fourth in the nation in scoring and sixth nationally in passing efficiency.
Why he fits: Harsin’s offense would be described as innovative and aggressive, and he does a terrific job of getting his playmakers involved. Under Harsin’s watch, quarterback Kellen Moore has turned in one of the most successful careers in college football history. This year, Moore ranks second nationally in passing efficiency and seventh in passing yards per game (292.1).
In February of this year, Mack Brown hosted a few Boise State coaches to pick their brains and bring some innovation to the UT offense, with special focus on trick plays.
Potential hurdles: There aren’t many. Harsin’s resume is incredibly attractive, he has experience in running an offense and play-calling. There’s some talk that head coach Chris Peterson is the brains behind the Boise State offense but people close to the Bronco program are quick to credit Harsin’s input, saying Peterson takes a hands-off approach during the actual games. Harsin is also a bit of an unknown as a recruiter, but his reputation would certainly open a lot of doors.
Latest buzz: In talking to people tied into the Boise State program during week, there’s been very little chatter of Harsin having any type of contact with Texas to this point. If it’s happened, it’s been very quiet. One person we talked to said if Texas does come calling, he would fully expect Harsin to listen (he turned down Alabama’s request for an interview in 2007). BSU head coach Chris Petersen encourages his assistants to at least listen to offers and weigh all options before telling a program no, and the thought is that Texas would be an attractive enough position that Harsin would gladly accept a formal interview.
Here’s the kicker … does Harsin want to come in if he’ll have to share the OC tag? There’s some talk behind the scenes that if he was to be offered, it would be with some sort of “co-offensive coordinator” tag (along with Applewhite), and Harsin would prefer to stay in Boise where he’s the only one running the show.
About Bostad: Bob Bostad is in his fifth season as an assistant coach at Wisconsin. He was named run game coordinator in February of 2007 and became the Badgers’ offensive line coach in January of 2008 after coaching tight ends his first two seasons.
The Badgers have led the Big Ten and ranked among the top 15 in the country in rushing offense in each of the last three seasons. This year, Wisconsin was 12th nationally in rushing yards per game (247), fourth nationally in scoring (43.3 ppg) and 14th nationally in sacks allowed (14). In 2009, despite starting six different combinations at offensive line, UW led the Big Ten in total offense, scoring offense and rushing offense while allowing just 23 quarterback sacks, its lowest total since 2004. Two offensive linemen, tackle Gabe Carimi and center/guard John Moffitt, were named first-team All-Big Ten. In 2008, Bostad helped guide a running game that averaged a Big Ten-leading 211.2 yards per game, good for 14th in the country.?
Why he fits: It’s no secret that both Mack Brown would love to have a ground game that can control opponents, and nobody does it better than Bostad and Wisconsin. The Badgers are routinely among the most physical teams in all of college football and its offensive coaching staff, including Bostad, is very highly regarded.
Potential hurdles: Bostad is a Wisconsin native. He was born in Pardeeville, Wis. and played collegiately at UW-Stevens Point. It may be tough to pull him away from the Badger program, and there are questions how he’d mesh with the culture of UT and Texas high school football.
Latest buzz: If Texas was to bring in an OC like McElwain, it’s going to need an offensive line coach with a proven record of being able to have success in a power running game. Nobody fits that bill better than Bostad. If the Horns go with a guy like Applewhite, Bostad could come in with a run game coordinator or co-offensive coordinator tag to make the position more appealing. Lots of buzz surrounding Bostad early in the week, but again, it remains to be seen how much Muschamp’s decision has turned things upside down.
About Morris: After one of the most successful high school coaching careers in the state of Texas, Morris was named as The University of Tulsa’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in January. In his first year at Tulsa, Morris constructed a potent offense that has led the program to nine wins, four more than the Golden Hurricanes accumulated in 2009, and a berth in the Hawaii Bowl. Tulsa finished the regular season ranked fifth in total offense (503.5 ypg) and 10th in scoring offense (39.67 ppg).
In his career as a high school coach, dating back to 1994, Morris took six of his teams to the Texas state championship game, while three of those teams captured a state title. He won back-to-back state titles at Lake Travis in 2008-09. He compiled an overall 169-38 record for an .816 winning percentage as a prep head coach, while earning Coach of the Year honors 11 times in his career.
Why he fits: Morris runs the type of wide-open offense that so many programs are currently having success with, and his track record as an offensive coach is extremely impressive. He’s from Edgewood, Tx. and has an obvious familiarity with high school coaches around the state from his days coaching at various high schools in the state. Morris has a good relationship with the Texas staff and his work with Garrett Gilbert at Lake Travis was tremendous, helping Gilbert earn Gatorade and Parade Magazine National Player of the Year honors.
Potential hurdles: This one really comes down to inexperience. Morris has coached only one year at the collegiate ranks. His skills as a recruiter are also an unknown.
Latest buzz: Morris’ name has been quiet compared to Applewhite, McElwain and Harsin in regards to the rumor mill, but a couple people behind the scenes have indicated he’s still in play as a co-coordinator title. If that were the case, would he be willing to share top billing, and would he be the one given the authority to call plays and take the lead role in molding the offense? Morris could be a candidate for other jobs as well … fluid situation.
About Price: In his second year at Ole Miss, Price is a guy that’s coached at a few different stops in the SEC (Auburn and Ole Miss twice).
In 2009, his first year back in Oxford, Price led a Rebel defensive line that helped Ole Miss rack up 96 TFLs and 36 sacks, ranking top two in the SEC and 11th and 14th in the nation, respectively. Price’s defensive line keyed a Rebel defense that finished fourth in the SEC and 15th nationally in scoring defense (17.7 ppg) and fourth in the league and 21st nationally in total defense (314.7 ypg). This year’s Ole Miss defense was not nearly as strong, ranking 80th nationally in total defense.
Why he fits: Price was rumored to be a top candidate last week when Will Muschamp was still in Austin becuase he had ties to Muschamp from their days at Auburn. A Texas A&M graduate, Price would figure to be a good fit as a recruiter in the state.
Potential hurdles: The buzz around Price has died down with Muschamp now gone. He’s an SEC guy, which certainly doesn’t eliminate him, but the decision could come down to who the new defensive coordinator wants to target.
Latest buzz: There was some behind-the-scenes chatter last week that Texas had sent in a forma request to speak with Price. However, in the wake of Muschamp’s deaprture, there’s been little buzz on any of the possible DT coaches and it’ll likely stay that way until Texas fills its d-coordinator spot.
About Jeffcoat: Jeffcoat just finished his third season with the Houtson Cougars, and sources have told us that it’s all but certain that he’s going to voluntarily step away from his current position. Jeffcoat spent 15 years playing in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills. After his retirement in 1997, he spent seven seasons on the Cowboys’ staff, coaching the defensive line. Prior to arriving in Houston, Jeffcoat was in private business in the Dallas area for two years.
In his second season on the Houston staff, Jeffcoat saw two of his pupils earn All-Conference USA honors. Tyrell Graham earned a spot on the Second Team, while Zeke Riser was an All-Freshman team selection.
Why he fits: Jeffcoat has played and coached in Texas for a long time, so he undoubtedly has a lot of contacts around the state. People we’ve talked to at Houston have said he’s very personable and a very good recruiter. His son, Jackson, is a freshman at Texas and came into the program extremely polished.
Potential hurdles: The Houston Cougar defense has really struggled the past couple years, so Jeffcoat is still a bit unproven as a collegiate coach. His name still carries a lot of weight around the state, but he’s never recruited the type of players he’d be targeting at Texas so he’s still a but of an unkown in that department as well.
Latest buzz: It looks like it’s all but official that Jeffcoat has made the decision to leave the Houston program. Will Texas come calling? No word on that yet but Jeffcoat’s calendar appears to be open.
About Papuchis: In his third season with the Huskers, Papuchis has done a very good job with the Huskers d-ends, but he’s equally intiguing because of his success in heading up the Nebraska special teams units. K/P Alex Henery is one of the country’s top weapons and the Husker special teams have routinely ranked among the nation’s best.
This year, the Huskers ranked in the nation’s top 32 in punt returns, kick returns and net punting. In 2009, The Huskers’ kickoff and punt return units both ranked in the top 30 nationally, while Alex Henery had an NU record 24 field goals, while also placing a Big 12-leading 30 punts inside the opponent 20-yard line. The Huskers also ranked in the top 15 nationally in kickoff return defense and third in touchbacks.
In 2009, his defensive ends combined for 127 tackles, including 33 tackles for loss and 12 sacks. With 16 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks, senior Barry Turner was an honorable-mention All-Big 12 selection in 2009, while junior Pierre Allen racked up five sacks and 12 tackles for loss.
Why he fits: For a while, this one just made sense. Papuchis is a young, energetic coach who has had terrific success in coaching along the d-line and he could jump right in and fill Mike Tolleson’s role as special teams coordinator. He’s regarded by people in Nebraska as a terrific recruiter, and he had ties to Will Muschamp from their time together at LSU in 2004.
Potential hurdles: Not many. Papuchis seems be a pretty natural fit in the positions that need to be filled, his ties to Muschamp, he’s young and he can recruit.
Latest buzz: Late this week, sources close to the situation indicated that Papuchis had emerged as the top candidate to replace Mike Tolleson. The 32-year-old assistant said he had not been contacted by Texas, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t been some behind-the-scenes feelers put out. However, Papuchis was believed to be a top target at the urging of Muschamp, so he could be all but off the UT board at this point.
About Brewster: Most recently, Brewster held the head coaching position for the University of Minnesota before being let go midway through the 2010 season. Brewster was never able to get it going at Minnesota, compiling a 15-30 record, including a 1-6 mark in 2010 before being fired. Prior to his time at Minnesota, Brewster spent two years with the Denver Broncos and three years with the San Diego Chargers coaching tight ends. Before that, he spent 13 years coaching alongside Mack Brown at Texas and North Carolina.
Why he fits: Brewster’s calendar is open and he still has a lot of fans in and around the Forty Acres. During his time at Texas, Brewster was regarded as one of the country’s top recruiters and he’s the guy largely responsible for getting Vince Young to become a Longhorn.
Potential hurdles: None of the current open positions on the Longhorn staff are a natural fit for Brewster, who has coached only tight ends at the positional level. He’s never been an offensive coordinator so there would probably have to be some juggling of responsibilities among current staff members to make it work.
Latest buzz: Brewster is expected to interview for the vacant head coaching position at Texas State. There’s been very little talk of late about him fielding a role with Texas, but I wouldn’t scratch him off the list just yet.
Gunter Brewer - Oklahoma State Wide Receivers coach; Tim Cross – Minnesota Associate Head Coach/Defensive Line Coach; Chris Klenakis – Arkansas Offensive Line Coach; Gus Malzahn - Auburn Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach; Stacy Searels – Georgia Offensive Line Coach; David Shaw - Stanford Offensive Coordinator/Running Backs Coach; Trooper Taylor - Auburn Assistant Head Coach/Wide Receivers Coach; Joe Wickline - Oklahoma State Offensive Line Coach; Everett Withers - North Carolina Defensive Coordinator/Secondary Coach