Longhorns and Bobcats Dream of Coaching Knights in Shining Armor

Greg Davis out as UT offensive coordinator

Greg Davis
Greg Davis (Photo courtesy of UT)

Goodbye, Greg Davis.

Mack Brown finally went for wins over loyalty in dumping his offensive coordinator and longtime friend. Want to know the future of the new and improved University of Texas football program? Look to Texas State.

Probably you’ve missed the odd parallels between UT and the boys down the road in San Marcos – you know the team the Austin news programs fail to notice exists and the local daily buries next to the results of the latest Tarleton State game.

Consider 2005: The year that the Longhorns were on their way to a national title on the legs of Vince Young, the Bobcats of the school that shall forever be known as Southwest Texas State were led by Barrick Nealy, a University of Houston transfer with a blown-out knee who played a lot like Vince’s beat-up cousin. His Bobcats almost (and probably should have) beat Texas A&M that year en route to the playoffs. In a glorious playoff run, first he passed for 400 yards and ran for 124 for a comeback win over Georgia Southern, then there was the 14-7 bruising win over Cal Poly. Then a heartbreaking overtime loss to Northern Illinois. So close …

Consider 2010: The Bobcats are joining the Western Athletic Conference and moving up to the semi-big time. They fire their coach after another disappointing year that had glimmers of hope and a fleeting national ranking. The rumor mill has former Bobcat and Aggie coach Dennis Franchione itching to come home. Some fans dream of Mike Leach. Other point to fellow WAC greenhorn UTSA, which chose Larry Coker as its first-ever football coach. Coker led the Miami Hurricanes to a national championship in 2001. He’s a late-career guy like Howard Schnellenberger who built Florida Atlantic’s football program from the ground up as well.

Whatever choice the Bobcats make – other names bandied about include Oklahoma co-defensive coordinator Bobby Jack Wright, TCU special teams/tight ends coach Don Sharp and LSU offensive coordinator Gary Crowton – will say a lot about the future of their program. Will they be pummeled by big-name programs for the sake of a big paycheck (probably)? Will they contend for a conference title and put the Texas State name on the map? Depends. They’re going to have to commit both financially and idealistically. They’ve got to dream big.

The same questions can be asked of the Texas Longhorns as they shake off their first losing season under Mack Brown. Who will Brown choose to replace his old buddy and pal? It’s not overly dramatic to say Brown’s decision will set the course for the UT football program. The last two coaches to post losing seasons were themselves fired. Brown knows he’s safe – as he should be with his years of success. Getting rid of Davis, offensive line coach Mac McWhorter and defensive tackles coach Mike Tolleson (the last two have officially “retired”) and perhaps others was the right call. Without a major change, Texas could have been stuck in a rapid decline headed toward Brown’s eventual retirement.

The biggest coaching move Brown has made at Texas was dangling the carrot of a future Texas head-coaching gig in front of defensive coordinator Will Muschamp. It kept a strong coach – despite a lot slippage this year – in the fold. The Texas defense will likely bounce back this coming year. Will the offense?

Yes, if Mack infuses the right new blood. Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M will field strong teams next year. For Texas to shake off a bad case of the loser’s jitters and compete, Brown is going to have to find another up-and-coming offensive juggernaut. The rumor mill begins spewing today, but the UT football machine is not one to leak out much information, so it’s all conjecture. Fans are awaiting a messiah, so Brown better start rattling the best bushes he can find.

Why was Texas 5-7 after a season-ending 24-17 loss at home to the Aggies? Garrett Gilbert wasn’t the second coming of Colt McCoy at quarterback. Neither a top receiver nor an ace ball carrier emerged. Injuries hurt. The Texas D forgot how to stop the run. Perhaps Texas fans broke a lot of mirrors and said bad things about the ghost of Mother Hipple. Some contend unspecified allegations that led to a leave of absence for associate athletics director for football operations Cleve Bryant left Texas without the bad-cop coach who kept players on their toes.

Whatever the excuse, it’s time to clean up the mess. Brown, like those guys in San Marcos, needs to dream big. He needs a master custodian, and he needs him now.

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Mack Brown, Will Muschamp, Greg Davis, Garrett Gilbert

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