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Crossfire with McPhaul - 11/20/2013
HornSports Staff posted a topic in The Burnt Orange BoardWell, it's that time of the week. This week the â€œbuzzâ€ has been around the rumors about Mack Brown announcing his retirement. As you are aware as of the last couple of weeks there have been discussions that the Longhorn Network is working on a Mack Brown Tribute. There have been proclamations on sites from supposed Regents. â€œHe said, she saidâ€- what gives McPhaul? Also in this week of â€œCrossfireâ€ there were heated conversations on the sidelines with Major Applewhite and a DIFFERENT Coach this past weekend. Weâ€™ll also discuss observations of the Oklahoma State game from the viewpoint of a former UT layer. Finally, weâ€™ll touch on Steve Patterson- was he even AT the game Saturday? Finally, I have been asked frequently about contingency plans if Saban DOESNâ€™T replace Mack Brown as Head Coach; whom will it be? We will discuss all of that and more in this weekâ€™s â€œCrossfire.â€ *RETIREMENT REQUEST & IMPACT ON CURRENT UT COMMITS, STAFF, & TEAM* Here is what Iâ€™m hearing: shortly after the OSU game, Steve Hicks & Jim Bob Moffitt requested that a date be set or Mack to announce his retirement. My understanding is that two dates have been requested for Mack to announce his retirement. At this time, I have not be given confirmation on specific dates- I assure you, I will keep everyone posted as things develop. I can tell you this: there are several factors that need to go into consideration with the decision date for the retirement announcement. One obvious consideration is the negative impact that the resignation date is having on recruiting. Recruiters from rival programs are already doing their best to poach our current commits. Weâ€™ve seen as recent as today San Antonio Warren DT Commit Trey Lealaimatafao plans on taking official visits to UCLA this upcoming weekend, followed-up with Arizona State the following weekend. This was unheard of just a few seasons back (especially to a school like UCLA or Arizona State!) And Lealaimatafao isnâ€™t alone. In the past few weeks we have had several of our commits take visits as well. In my opinion, this is only going to increase with the uncertainty surrounding the program. Another issue surrounding the announcement of the retirement date is the possibility of the current Coaching Staff & Team checking out altogether on the remainder of the season. As it pertains to the coaches, I for one do not understand this because in my opinion the present staff should be looking at this as if they are auditioning for their future jobs. After a â€œlack-lusterâ€ season in which the team is being perceived as underachieving, it would behoove the Coaching Staff to "put their best foot forward"- especially at this juncture of the season! As far it pertains to the Team, the players can still achieve a successful season and a decent Bowl Game if they can win out. Did the loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday take all of the wind out of our boys' sails in their last achievable goal of significance? Possibly, however it appears to be a MAJOR concern on the 40 Acres and with the powers that be. Finally, one other issue facing our program as it pertains to Mackâ€™s retirement announcement is how long can Texas go without naming our new Head Coach? What impact will it have on our â€™14 Recruiting Class if it takes longer to name Mackâ€™s replacement such as with a Nick Saban? The time interval between Mack resigning and our top target Nick Saban becoming available may create a dilemma that our Selection Committee has been anything but sterling in handling. As I've stated before, the Saban camp has not been very impressed with the way this has been handled on the Texas side. In last week's "Crossfire" I noted that Nick Saban is EXTREMELY disappointed in our inability to keep things quiet (Hicks brothers) going so far as stating, â€œdo those guys even KNOW how to hire a coach?â€ Keep in mind, just like ANY great coach Nick Saban DOES NOT LIKE CLUTTER! The stuff that went down with the Hickâ€™s boys represents clutter. As I mentioned last week, not withstanding his dust-up with Hakeem early in his career, there is a reason agents speak â€œglowinglyâ€ about working with Patterson. He is a PROFESSIONAL. He learns from his mistakes and applies that to future events. Expect this negotiation to be as I stated last week: â€œdouble-secret probation.â€ I would not expect there will be many slip-ups going forward. Patterson is a professional and was brought on board to manage the relationship between the University of Texas and Jimmy Sexton/Nick Saban. Patterson should help alleviate a great deal of those concerns going forward. I expect that if Saban DOES indeed become our next Head Coach, then there will be little â€œleakageâ€ coming out of Bellmont going forward. Things will get VERY quiet and any information on this subject will be â€œfew & far between.â€ More things to consider as it pertains to Steve Patterson is that HE is key here. Why you may ask? Well, primarily due to the fact that Mack & Deloss have done a very good job of convincing Powers that Saban is NOT a coach with the level of integrity The University should seek in its Head Coach in ANY sport. We heard Mack Brown state last week that â€œNick Saban is my friend and he is not after my job.â€ What Mack Brown did NOT say is the Texas power brokers have zeroed in on Nick Saban and Saban is more than interested in the Head Coaching position at Texas! It is a shame that it has come down to Mack Brown having to be â€œforced-outâ€ at this point in his career- it really should have NEVER come to this in the first place and could have been avoided altogether years ago had Mack of all people had his way! Regardless of how it is spun by Bellmont, the bottom line is Mack Brown was fired as the Head Coach and will be reassigned to another position within the University. I could not help but laugh when I read the post about Mack announcing his retirement and everyone except the poster tried to talk him out of it. On the contrary, NO ONE is going to try and talk Mack Brown out of retirement this time around when the power brokers have been seeking his resignation for the past two years. How naÃ¯ve does Bellmont and the Administration really believe we are? Furthermore, despite all of the negative talk about Saban by Mack Brown to Bill Powers, it would not surprise me if at the end of the day Mack Brown comes out and suggests that it was HIS idea to go out and hire the best possible coach for the program, which just so happens to be Mackâ€™s own close, personal friend â€œNick Saban.â€ *MAJOR NOW BUTTING HEADS WITH YET ANOTHER OFFENSIVE COACH?* Now on to the aftermath of last Saturday and the Oklahoma State game. One of my contacts shared with me, â€œOnce Texas faced a formable foe, our weaknesses were exposed.â€ He went on to say, â€œ Is it just me or did Major have a better feel for the game when he was running the Texas offense behind center? Major does not seem to have a good feel for the flow of the game.â€ He continued with a not so nice comparison, â€œLike Greg Davis, he does not appear to be a good or a natural play caller. It appears that he struggles to find any rhythm during the game that he feels comfortable with.â€ He concluded with, â€œOnce again, Majorâ€™s short-comings are grating on the other offensive coaches. Major & Porter are the latest of two coaches on this Mack Brown staff that are going at one another during a game. Porter was not very pleased that Major veered away from the running game that was working.â€ Letâ€™s hope the lack of chemistry can be patched up and repaired before we go into the Texas Tech game on Thanksgiving or things could get messy. Finally, a couple things I heard about last Saturdays game: 1. This nugget comes from a Texas-Ex from the â€˜63 National Championship team, â€œDarrell, I have NEVER seen the T Room so void of former players!â€ Apparently it is no longer just the students that have become disgruntled with the product Mack Brown has trotted out on to the field. * CONTINGENCY PLANS IF SABAN DOESNâ€™T COME TO THE 40* Finally, some of you have asked me if I have heard about any contingency plans if Saban doesnâ€™t come. Well, first of all let me reiterate from everything I continue to be told is right now I am sitting at 100% that Nick Saban will be Mackâ€™s replacement in â€™14. My contacts have rarely been wrong and I will stick with my guys until the end! Theyâ€™ve EARNED that much faith & respect from me over the years! Nevertheless, if you have been associated with the University of Texas Athletics, one would have to believe that power brokers such as Hicks & Rowling have to have some contingency, fall-back plan in place for such a situation. Iâ€™m confident a third party agency (IMG) has vetted a list of potential Head Coaching candidates that can meet the stringent criteria that the Committee has put in place. However, it has been a while since I have heard any talk about who would be on that list - and if you are a fan of the Saban hire then that is probably a GOOD thing! I do know this: recently Kirk Herbstreit tweeted that he felt Jim Mora, Jr. would be a great hire for the University of Texas. Well I can add that a friend of mine that has known Steve Patterson personally for years stated the Patterson is a *big fan* of Jim Mora, Jr. Does that mean Mora Jr is on any vetted list? Currently, not that Iâ€™m aware of. Thatâ€™s all I have for now. Hook â€˜em! -- McPhaul
Harsin's Exit One thing that has become prevalent in college football is the on-going, never stopping, always looming coaching carousel that occurs all around the nation. Texas fans should already be familiar with this situation on an even larger scale when the University of Texas lost their “Coach-In-Waiting”, Will Muschamp, to the University of Florida. Now it’s another coordinator that will be moving on by following an interest to be a head coach. After just two seasons at Texas, Co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin will be the head coach at Arkansas State. Some fans may not know anything about Arkansas State or have ever seen a red wolf (Ark. St. mascot) before. But if recent history tells you anything then it’s clear why Harsin would want a shot to be head coach at this stepping stone school. After each of the past consecutive seasons at Arkansas State, the head coach of the Red Wolves’ has left for much bigger head-coaching jobs. And both coaches have found landing spots in the SEC. After the 2011 season, Hugh Freeze left for Ole Miss after just one year as head coach at Arkansas State. And after the 2012 season, Gus Malzahn left for Auburn just 1 year after he was named the head coach at Arkansas State. Both of these guys were also offensive minds, like Harsin. With that knowledge alone it’s easy to see why Bryan Harsin is ready to take a shot at being the head coach at Arkansas State. Regardless of the fact that Harsin wants to take the gig as the head coach at a stepping stone school, we cannot shy away from the fact that Texas still has a big question mark at the quarterback position; a position Bryan Harsin had been coaching himself. The fact that Harsin is leaving may explain why the Juco QB’s UT have interest in hadn’t been offered anything from the school yet. On top of this, it will also be interesting to see if this plays a role in the decision of any quarterbacks (or any offensive players) to stay or leave the 40 acres. Fellow HornSports contributor Johnny Whisenant (@Texas0205) will shed more light into this subject and give more insight into how the players felt about Harsin, not just as a play-caller, but as someone they worked with daily. It’s definitely something you will want to read. But even with the question marks still floating around at the QB position, I believe this move for Harsin had more to do with the chance to be a head coach, at a school that has recently catapulted it’s past head coaches into a top football conference, than any other reason. Moving Forward With Major Whether you liked Harsin’s play calling or not, he has now moved on. Which means Texas must move on and move forward with a new play caller. Co-offensive coordinator, and beloved lifetime longhorn, Major Applewhite is now taking over as the play caller during games. He will still be a co-offensive coordinator, as wide receiver’s coach Darrell Wyatt has been promoted to co-offensive coordinator. But Applewhite will take charge of the offensive strategy and insert his own direction into the squad. The excitement over Major Applewhite’s promotion is understandable. The guy worked his magic, as a player, when he was doubted most: especially by his own head coach (Mack Brown). Now many fans, and even players, seem excited to see if Major can carry that magic into his play calling. As an offensive coordinator that calls plays, Major has had just 2 seasons in that position. His first was at Rice in 2006. And his second opportunity was with Nick Saban at Alabama in 2007. Below are the offense’s respective stats those years. 2006 Rice Offense: Totals – 4,486 yards, 44 TD’s, Passing – 2,783 yards, 29 TD’s, 14 INT’s. (6.40 yards/attempt) Rushing – 1,703 yards, 15 TD’s. (3.9 yards/carry) 2007 Alabama Offense: Totals – 4,859 yards, 38 TD’s. Passing – 2919 yards, 19 TD’s, 12 INT’s. (6.18 yards/attempt) Rushing – 1940 yards, 19 TD’s. (4.0 yards/attempt) 2012 Texas Offense (plays called by Harsin): Totals – 5, 292 yards, 54 TD’s. Passing – 3180 yards, 23 TD’s, 10 INT’s (8.71 yards/attempt) Rushing – 2,112 yards, 31 TD’s. (4.6 yards/attempt) The numbers in Applewhite’s two seasons as OC are lower than what Texas did last season. But we really shouldn’t even compare those two seasons to the Longhorn’s offense of last season. The style of offense and talent on offense at Rice and Alabama are much different that what Texas currently has. Texas is faster and has multiple players than can take it to the house on any given play. Rice’s talent isn’t up to that par, and we all know about the offenses Alabama has run in the past. Right now Applewhite has a Mustang (it’s not a Porsche yet) of an offense sitting in the driveway. If he can find a quarterback who can consistently drive this offense then he could very well shatter his own past offensive stats as a coordinator and keep this offense performing at a high level like it did in many games last season. There’s no question the Harsin move is an unexpected change. But what has almost been more unexpected is the reaction the fans, and even players, have displayed when learning knowledge of Harsin’s exit. Many fans don’t seem nearly as disappointed or as upset as I would have thought. I’m not sure if fans A) expect Major to come in and keep the offense rolling with out skipping a beat. And/Or don’t realize that almost all of the play calling from last year was from Bryan Harsin. And Harsin’s play calling improved this offense significantly all across the board in the two seasons he was here, specifically in points per game (28.1 in 2011, 36.1 in 2012). Bryan Harsin did help improve this offense, there’s no denying that. But the underlying story many of us may not have known is what his relationship was like with the players. As I stated earlier, Johnny Whisenant will shed light on this. But if you’re curious, go read some of the tweets from the players. They too don’t seem that disappointed Harsin is gone. And as a matter of fact, like the fans, they seem excited about Major Applewhite taking over the play calling. My Thoughts I, myself, am looking forward to seeing how Major does with the plays and how the team plays under his increased leadership. He is a very likeable guy and usually works well with the players, and recruits. But if you think about it, this next season could essentially be an entire season long job interview. Though it’s my opinion, I believe Mack will leave after next season. And if he does leave and a new head coach is brought in, then that head coach will most likely bring his own offensive coordinator. So the ‘Major Applewhite experiment’ may only last 1 season (unless he does an incredible job and gets promoted to Head Coach at UT… But I’m not ready to go there yet). It will be very interesting to watch how Major performs this next year. Though we all may be excited to see what he can do, we need to remember the offense may have a different look to it (rumblings are it may have a faster tempo at times). I also really hope he utilizes guys like Daje Johnson more, something Harsin shied away from in certain games. The offense, most likely built on the same basics of last year, will certainly have a different look under Applewhite. It’s fun to be excited about Major taking over but whether or not his style of offense works for UT has yet to be seen. Hook’em Twitter: @WesKCrochet