Since Charlie Strong accepted the head coaching job at the University of Texas on January 5, he has been a busy body, acclimating to the new environment, meeting the players and—most importantly—finalizing his coaching staff.
Strong's assistants are a mixture of familiarity and success, drawing from the reaches of the country, his own backyard at Louisville and one particular Texas assistant coach with strong ties to high school football in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.
Meet Texas' new coaching staff.
Vance Bedford joins the Longhorns staff as the defensive coordinator and the defensive backs coach, following in Strong's steps from Louisville.
Bedford, a 1983 graduate from UT, returns to Austin after stints at Colorado State, Oklahoma State, Michigan, Florida and Louisville. Bedford also spent six seasons with the Chicago Bears as their defensive backs coach.
As the defensive coordinator at Louisville under Strong, Bedford guided the Cardinals to lead the FBS in total defense, rushing defense, sacks, fewest first downs allowed and third-down conversion defense. Louisville also ranked in the top 10 in scoring defense, passing efficiency defense, passing yards allowed, tackles for loss and red-zone defense.
Bedford's defensive success will be put to the test in a much more offensive and competitive conference in the Big 12.
Also arriving from Louisville are linebackers coach Brian Jean-Mary, quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson and strength and conditioning coach Pat Moorer.
Jean-Mary, who has been a part of Strong's staff since 2010 at Louisville, will also serve as Texas' recruiting coordinator. The Appalachian State alum has also coached at Georgia Tech and North Alabama.
Watson, who was in the conversation to become Texas' offensive coordinator, will begin the 2014-15 season with some work to do at the quarterback position. Watson will be in charge of furthering the developments of David Ash and Tyrone Swoopes, not to mention incoming freshman Jerrod Heard.
Watson's recent work with Teddy Bridgewater, arguably the top quarterback prospect entering the 2014 NFL draft, helped turn Louisville into a very offensively capable program as the offensive coordinator in 2012 and 2013.
In 2013, the Cardinals led the FBS in completion percentage, fewest passes intercepted and fewest turnovers lost, while ranking in the top three in third-down conversions, time of possession and passing efficiency.
Moorer supplants Bennie Wylie as the head of the strength and conditioning program in Austin, a move that has generated some buzz about the kind of physicality and toughness that Strong and his staff plan to usher into the Texas program.
Moorer, a 1992 Florida graduate, has had stints at South Carolina (twice), Florida and Illinois.
Joe Wickline was one of the last gets for Strong and Texas, taking the reins as the offensive coordinator and the offensive line coach. Wickline spent the last nine years securing the foundation of Oklahoma State's prolific offense under Mike Gundy.
In fact, Oklahoma State has averaged more than 40 points per game in four of the last six seasons. The Cowboys' 39.1 points per game in 2013 was the lowest offensive output since posting 28.4 points per game in 2009.
Wickline also coached alongside Strong at Florida between 2002 and 2004 and is arguably the best offensive line coach in the Big 12. Wickline has also spent time at Middle Tennessee State, Baylor and Mississippi.
Tommie Robinson takes over as the running backs coach, joining the ranks after stints at USC and with the Arizona Cardinals under Ken Whisenhunt. His resumé also includes stops at Miami (Fla.), Memphis, Georgia Tech, Oklahoma State, the Dallas Cowboys, TCU and Utah State.
Texas may have found a gem in its new wide receivers coach Les Koenning, a 1981 Texas graduate who is entering his 34th year of coaching.
Koenning (KENN-ing) is about as experienced as one could hope after coaching at Mississippi, South Alabama, Texas A&M, Alabama, TCU, Houston, Duke, Rice and Louisiana-Lafayette. He also served as an offensive assistant with the Miami Dolphins in 1997.
Rounding out the offensive coaches is Bruce Chambers, a familiar name to many Texas fans. Chambers is entering his 17th season at Texas and was undoubtedly retained because of his connections with high school football in the state.
The Longhorns went back to Alabama for some help with their defensive line, snagging Chris Rumph from Nick Saban's staff.
Rumph, a South Carolina alum, has had measured success at Clemson (2006-10) and Alabama (2011-13). Since hitting the big stages in 2006, Rumph's defensive lines have been the anchors to defenses that have never ranked outside of the top 20 in total defense.
Chris Vaughn follows in the footsteps of Duane Akina, perhaps one of the best secondary coaches to have graced college football. Vaughn will also serve as Texas' special teams coordinator.
Vaughn's resumé includes stops at Arkansas, Tulsa, Ole Miss and Memphis. The 16-year coaching veteran was staffed with the Razorbacks from 2000 to 2007, finding roles with safeties, linebackers and recruiting.
The Bottom Line
Hardly the all-star cast that many would have hoped for, given the seemingly endless resources at Texas, Coach Strong has assembled a hard working and successful group of assistant coaches that will look to revitalize a program that had become mediocre at best.
Fans wanted a culture change, and they got just that.
But the best is still to come.
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