Walker: Thoughts on the issues
Jeff Howe, Staff writer
247 Sports (great site)
Former Longhorn receiver Johnny Walker spoke with Hookem.com for his weekly Q&A.
What was your initial reaction to the news of Will Muschamp‘s departure?
Johnny Walker: It didn’t surprise me. When you have a coach of that magnitude and you make him that kind of guarantee and you don’t give him some kind of timetable you’re putting too much on the line expecting him to stay. That’s just not substantial enough to hold on to a coach of that quality.
Do you think Will Muschamp would have been a good choice as the head coach Texas?
JW:Yes. I think his enthusiasm and just the job he’s done as a defensive coordinator was incredible. We definitely could have used that kind of enthusiasm and energy next year and over the next couple of years.
As a player who went through an offseason with two coordinator changes, what are the players feeling?
JW:It brings a lot of things into your imagination. You don’t know what to expect and you don’t know what’s going to happen next. There are big changes coming, obviously. With new coordinators on offense and defense, everybody wants to know where they fit in with the dynamics of the new system.
As a recruit, how does this impact you?
JW: It’s really like the bottom is falling out. As a recruit, you commit to the coach who recruited you along with the school. This is the man that you’ve developed a relationship with, the person you’ve confided in, the person who sold you on playing at that school. Now you’ve got to ask yourself if you went there for the coach or the program. Did you commit to a person or to the place you’re going to?
Is the right move for Texas to name Major Applewhite as the offensive coordinator?
JW: This is why I’ve been saying from an early point that the decision needed to be made as soon as possible. The main reason is because every program is trying to get to into Texas’ category of being an elite program. You see that when Vanderbilt throws $3 million at Gus Malzahn. Texas needs to lock up the guys that can help them stay at a high level because other schools are doing it and they aren’t wasting any time. Texas has the attitude that they can get anyone they want because they have the money, and they do, but they need to realize that a lot of other programs do, too, and they aren’t wasting time making the moves they feel they need to make.
Do you think Major Applewhite is ready to be the offensive coordinator at Texas?
JW: I had a long conversation with him at the (Cibolo) Steele game (Saturday) and we were watching the game and spent a lot of time talking Xs and Os. He’s dynamic in terms of knowing schemes and concepts and I have an even greater respect for him as an offensive mind. Just listening to him calling the game and breaking down a high school game, with his knowledge he seems like he’d be the kind of play caller any school would like to have. I think he’d be a great choice for Texas because he’s young, imaginative, he’s enthusiastic, and I think because he played at Texas he’s got a personal stake in it and you’d have somebody that would put 100 percent of what he has into the job.
What strategy would you like to see Texas take in finding an offensive coordinator?
JW: I think at this point, the job needs to be offered to and accepted by Major. I think at this point you’re looking at potentially having seven assistant coaches leaving, and at some point you have to do what you can to hold things together. If you had offered him the job early, maybe you wouldn’t be in the position you’re in right now. People are saying some negative things about Will with him potentially taking some of the assistants away, but he can’t worry about Texas anymore. He’s got a job to do and his obligation is to Florida and to build the best staff he can, and you really can’t fault him for that.
What does Texas look for when searching for a new defensive coordinator?
JW: I don’t think you can find a Muschamp clone. There’s only one Will Muschamp and we’ve lost him. He’s a very good coach and I think he should have been the next head coach at Texas because of all of the qualities he possessed as a head coach. When you look at who they could bring in, I think Randy Shannon would be a good get. I think with Shannon you lose some of the enthusiasm, but you look at his track record as a coordinator and he did a great job of trying to restore some the swag back in the Miami program and in many ways he did. He might not be like the guy he’d replace, but he might be the guy Texas needs to bring in now.
What’s your take on Randy Shannon possibly being the next defensive coordinator at Texas?
JW: When he was the defensive coordinator at Miami he had some of the best defenses in the country. All but one year he was the coordinator his defenses were ranked in the top ten nationally and you can’t take that away from him. He had some struggles as a head coach, but a coordinator I think he’d be an outstanding person for Texas to hire.
Can it get any worse for Texas than it is right now?
JW: This is bad. I think whether people want to hear it or not, they need to accept the fact that Texas is in danger of not being an elite program if they don’t get the right coaches in here. They need to do whatever it takes to lock up the right guys who can come in and help get this program back on the right track. I’m very disappointed that it didn’t work out for Coach Muschamp at Texas, but Florida is one of those jobs that when they come calling you can’t blame him for taking it. It’s likely that when he wanted to know when he’d be the head coach at Texas, he didn’t like the answer he got. This shouldn’t have happened, but he took the best opportunity he had. He was named head coach-in-waiting before the 2008 season was over and now we’re coming up on the 2011 season. He couldn’t wait forever. If he goes on to win big at Florida, it’s going to be a tough pill to swallow.
Have we seen the last of the Texas program as we knew it under Mack Brown?
JW: There’s never been this much turmoil. That’s a tough question to answer because I’m not sure anyone can be sure until the hires are made and we see what this staff looks like and what comes out of all of this. I hope they can bring in the right people, but that is the big question. No question with losing Coach Muschamp you not only lose all of the things I’ve mentioned, but you also lose a great recruiter. There’s no question that Texas hasn’t had an offseason like this in a long time. There’s a lot of guessing and wondering what’s going to happen and people questioning a lot of things. I think for Mack Brown, he needs to do whatever he has to do to build a championship program.
Johnny Walker was a two-time all-SWC receiver for the Longhorns under Coach David McWilliams. Walker now hosts a Thursday night radio show in his hometown of San Antonio called Longhorns Unplugged.