The search for the Texas Longhorns' new head coach is over as the Longhorns announced former Louisville head coach Charlie Strong as Mack Brown's replacement. See Strong's comments in Texas' official press release here.
Charlie Strong named 29th head football coach. http://t.co/w190q2PPeo— Longhorn_FB (@Longhorn_FB) January 5, 2014
Louisville was 15-21 in the three season's prior to Strong's arrival. In his only head coaching role, Strong led Louisville to a 37-15 record, including two back-to-back double-digit win seasons in 2012 and 2013 and a BCS bowl win over Florida in last season's Sugar Bowl. Strong is known as a dominant recruiter and has helped pick up a tremendous amount of talent from the state of Florida, including quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
With Strong an official announcement away from being named as the Longhorns' head coach, the future is unknown for current coordinators Major Applewhite and Greg Robinson.
A lot of criticism comes with being a head football coach at a school like Texas. And in today's what have you done for me lately type of mentality, the margin of error, especially when it comes to assistant coaches, is slim to none.
Applewhite is a household name in many recruits' minds due to his time playing quarterback at Texas from 1998 to 2001. He has been a huge recruiter for the Longhorns and helped land standout talents like Johnathan Gray, Malcolm Brown and Quandre Diggs.
Applewhite has been loyal to Texas since he was given the chance to coach as a graduate assistant from 2002 to 2004. But his time spent as play-caller for the Longhorns has been inconsistent.
To be fair, Applewhite's offense was based around quarterback David Ash's ability to run and throw the ball heading into the 2013 season. When Ash suffered a concussion in Week 2 and sat out for the majority of the year, Applewhite's scheme had to change with quarterback Case McCoy, who did not have the same talents as Ash.
Applewhite's offensive coordinator legacy is still being written. But will Ash's injury be enough of an excuse for Strong to keep him around as play-caller for another year?
Strong is a defensive minded coach, having served as defensive coordinator at Florida from 2003-2009 before accepting the head coaching job at Louisville. Every defensive coach needs a solid offensive coordinator.
Texas fans might remember current Louisville OC Shawn Watson. Held same job at Nebraska under Callahan and Pelini.— Chuck Carlton (@ChuckCarltonDMN) January 4, 2014
Strong's current offensive coordinator is a familiar face for Texas fans. Louisville offensive coordinator Shawn Watson was the OC at Nebraska between 2007 and 2010, where the Huskers were one of the Longhorns' Big 12 North rivals. Watson, who is also the Cardinals' quarterback coach, has led elite quarterbacks, most recently Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, who will likely be the first overall draft pick in the 2014 NFL draft.
Two NFL teams have inquired about hiring inquired about hiring Louisville OC Shawn Watson as an OC or QB coach.— Pete Thamel (@SIPeteThamel) January 4, 2014
It's doubtful that Applewhite will keep his current role if Watson follows Strong to Texas.
Let's be honest for a minute: When Mack Brown fired Manny Diaz—after the Longhorns gave up 550 yards rushing to BYU—and replaced him with Greg Robinson, Robinson walked into a dumpster fire defense.
Texas was coming off of the worst statistical defense in school history in 2013, only to give up 679 yards of total offense to a BYU team that finished the season unranked. But Robinson changed everything within two weeks of being in Austin.
Taking over a team's defense midseason is not an easy job. Taking over a team's defense that was ranked No. 115 nationally in total defense is even tougher. But Robinson did a successful job of turning around the Longhorns struggling unit.
The Texas defense went from allowing an average of 309 rushing yards and 491 total yards against non-conference opponents to allowing 138 yards rushing and 372 total yards per game against Big 12 teams under Robinson.
However, as successful as Robinson was in 2013, his job security is up in the air with Strong taking over the Longhorns.
As defensive coordinator at Florida, Strong's defenses averaged a No. 23 overall ranking throughout his seven seasons, and as head coach at Louisville, the Cardinals were an average No. 10-ranked defense through four seasons. In other words, Strong knows how to consistently build a solid defense.
Strong has kept a familiar face by his side since 2008. Louisville defensive coordinator Vance Bedford coached Florida's defensive backs under Strong between 2008 and 2009, then followed Strong to Louisville in 2010. Bedford is also a former Longhorn defensive back. Strong will likely want to bring Bedford with him to help integrate himself into the school and Texas recruiting.
With Strong's vast defensive resume and his sidekick Bedford in the mix, Robinson's career at Texas could be similar to his time in Austin in 2004: one and done.
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