Strong fills in the gaps
The media, both local and national, has been quick to pick on Coach Charlie Strong for his recent staffing turnovers. It's true that he'd initially expressed excitement about what was supposed to be his core group. However, leading a powerhouse university's football team out of the swampy doldrums is rarely a straightforward task, and some changes – and losses – in the duration should've been expected.
Last Thursday, DB Coach Chris Vaughn was fired, after implications by the NCAA of scandal arose, centering on Vaughn's previous position at Ole Miss – a growing Dumpster fire of a situation. Later, news of Receivers Coach Jay Norvell's displacement came to bear. It's thought that Norvell's positioning turned tenuous, upon the hire of then-Tulsa Offensive Coordinator Sterlin Gilbert, who takes over as lead play-caller.
Nevertheless, alas, have no fear – on top of the critical hires of Gilbert and O-Line Coach Matt Mattox – the Longhorns have gained additional services of experienced coaches. Former Longhorn RB and quality control assistant – both under Mack Brown – Anthony Johnson makes his way back into the program, as running backs coach. Coming in from a Toledo program that averaged over 200 yards a contest two years running, Johnson will be given a plethora of top-end and proven talent.
The more recent hire comes from the NFL ranks. Charlie Williams, who spent the last four seasons as wide receivers coach and running backs coach for the Indianapolis Colts, arrives with bona fide credentials, energy, and knowledge of what an NFL-quality receiver looks like – which will be crucial, and attractive, for current incoming and future recruits.
The massive coaching overhaul doesn't come without its potential warts and worries. Instant chemistry is a near-must in this admittedly precarious situation. The staff will need to coalesce and tighten up snare-tight, to an excellent jazz band's precision, for Strong to maintain his job.
Shaka Smart's young Horns have dropped two in a row – both away, at Oklahoma and Iowa State – but came back strong Tuesday night, with a huge 85-78 over No. 10 West Virginia. Texas will try to build on its tournament résumé on Saturday, vs. Baylor.