Texas Football: The 4 Hottest Seats on the Longhorns' Coaching Staff
Just as the players in college football present a carousel of talent, the coaches have their own circus rides that can create waves throughout the sport.
The Texas Longhorns enter year No. 3 of a rebuild that started following their 5-7 disaster in 2010. As one of the most experienced teams in the country, a near 180-degree switch from a season ago, Texas is on the brink of a true resurgence.
But just as success—in the form of a conference title and beyond—will re-establish the 'Horns as a top program, anything close to mediocrity or stagnation could signal the end for a number of coaches.
Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz is definitely in a make-or-break season for his job, for reasons well endured. Who else is on the hot seat?
Tight end has been a position of weakness ever since 2007.
The results with guys like David Thomas and Jermichael Finley were telling, but Texas has not had a consistent producer at tight end in years.
Has tight ends coach Bruce Chambers cooled on his mojo? Or are his guys simply not cutting it?
Texas may have had a sleeper in prospect Durham Smythe, but the 2013 recruit switched his commitment to Notre Dame late in the game.
Chambers has a potentially huge difference-maker in M.J. McFarland, a redshirt sophomore who could become a large piece of an offense looking to move the ball quickly. Greg Daniels is hardly a two-way threat, and junior college transfer Geoff Swaim could be a nice pickup if he acclimates well enough.
It is hard to pin too much on Chambers, who has built a nice record with guys like Finley and Thomas, but nothing has come from the position in recent memory. The move to an up-tempo offense can put a nice spotlight on the group and potentially save Chambers' job.
When defensive tackles coach Bo Davis came to Texas from Alabama, some expected NFL-caliber, one-man wrecking machines along the interior line.
In reality, Davis simply has not had his guys for that long.
Ashton Dorsey, Chris Whaley and Desmond Jackson were acquired pieces before Davis entered the picture. Malcolm Brown, who could very well end up as the team's best interior lineman, is all Davis' work, along with young guys like Hassan Ridgeway, among others.
If there is any year where Davis' guys could explode, it has to be 2013. The group returns every player save for Brandon Moore, who made the jump to the NFL.
Moreover, with the Longhorns recruiting whiff at defensive tackle in their 2013 class, the guys on campus will be the ones influencing whether or not Davis has a solidified future in Austin.
Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, now entering his third season with the Longhorns, is firmly on one of the hottest, if not the hottest, seats on the staff.
After Diaz's defense turned in the statistically worst season in Texas football history, questions surrounding his unit at the end of 2012 have already lingered into the 2013 campaign as he looks to save face in the fall.
Diaz's schemes have claimed mixed results over two seasons. A heavily experienced group in 2011 ranked 11th in the FBS, allowing 306 yards per game. Conversely, the youth-laden 2012 unit allowed 404 yards per contest.
Diaz will have to fill the huge holes vacated by defensive end Alex Okafor and safety Kenny Vaccaro, but the rest of the defense is vastly more experienced than a season ago.
So which Diaz defense will we see in 2013?
It's a seat that has been relatively warm for the past three or four seasons, some would say.
When head coach Mack Brown first began his rebuild following the 5-7 disaster in 2010, he vowed to bring his program back to prominence.
Three years later, after countless changes to philosophy in himself and his program, Brown's 'Horns can almost taste the success they once held in spades. Entering the 2013 season, Texas is in a great position to make a huge splash by year's end, effectively reaffirming itself as one of the nation's top teams.
Truth be told, the Longhorns simply need to win at this point. It is quite possible that anything short of a Big 12 title is considered a failure at this point, and that scenario could very well result in the end of Brown's career at Texas, whether by his own accord or the university's.
And if Brown goes, there cannot be too much promise for much of his coaching staff. However talented and purposeful his team may or may not be this year, Brown could have the most to gain and the most to lose.
We are all in for a wild ride.