"The most important strategic decision a head coach makes, whether new to a team, or established, is which offense to run. His choice of offense determines what kind of personnel he needs, how practices should be organized, and how he should scheme for different opponents. All decisions come after this decision."
Interesting times we live in, co-conspirators in the plot to usurp Mack's throne with Florida's unqualified new coach and Marvin Redpost, interesting times, for we are about to see Mack's vision for Texas in the new decade.
In addition to being Mack's answer for the conundrum he faces, the new coordinator hires reflect the understanding our Head Coach has come to of what strategies to employ retake Texas' rightful position atop the Big 12.
When he hired Muschamp, Mack was looking for someone who could install disguised coverages and get effective pressure on the quarterback, traits which were correctly deemed by Mack to be the principal features of an effective Big 12 defense.
As it turned out, Muschamp had both a mastery of modern coverage schemes and pressures, as well as the innovation to manufacture them with the talent on hand. His optimization of the 2008 defense's advantages on the line to overcome youth and a rash of injuries in the secondary was masterful.
Mack is attempting to follow that same template with the new DC hire and you can see it in the job posting requirement for NFL experience. Granted, Mack had that posted after he had already made his hire, but the theme of NFL experience and secondary experience was present in other names that were circulated (except Shannon) and provide the qualifications for Mack of how to find someone to handle the spread offenses of the Big 12.
NFL coverages, NFL pressure schemes.
In general, Mack's primary approach to success is to simply have better players than the other guy and only after the spread decimated Chizik in year 2 and Akina in year 1 did he determine that sophistication on defense needed to be part of the equation as he watched the proliferation of Leach's weapon's technology into the hands of other third world crackpots like Mark Mangino and Todd Pinkel.
The quotation at the beginning of this column comes from our own TaylorTRoom's column "it's the spread" which argued that the spread approach of creating space for the X's to attack between the O's, as opposed to creating ways for the X's to attack the O's, was the wave of the future and should be everyone's strategy for scoring points.
Scipio Tex made another grand strategical pronouncement with his column "how dual threat QB's change everything" focusing on the opportunities afforded by having a quarterback who defenders needed to account for as a runner on both run and pass plays, which were too great to not feature on offense.
What else would you expect from Longhorn fans, after seeing firsthand the spread's ability to create areas of open space for a quarterback to exploit either by air or by ground? All four BCS appearances came with such tactics.
Contrast these points with the one I made about how major programs are afforded, by virtue of their ability to stockpile elite runners and that precious and rare commodity, the elite lineman, the opportunity to build a running attack that can control games year in and year out with consistency.
That last strategy is the one that appeals most to Brown. All he has ever wanted to do is run the football, and that is not a sentiment that originated here with Will Muschamp. Unfortunately, he seems to eschew what the spread and dual threat QB can offer in this department with the profile he has put out for the next OC.
When you check down the names that qualify as OC under the job posting you find a list of pro-style coaches. The caveat is that Mack wants someone who has experience with those schemes in the NFL AND experience in implementing them at the college level. I believe he grew fed up with Greg Davis' feeble attempts at a running game and made his decision primarily based on that frustration.
I don't have inside sources, that's just my intuition of the situation. Greg made him look stupid for having talked up the jack'n'jill offense only to see it sputter and be abandoned for gameplans (if you can call them that) that required more throws from Gilbert than Texas had even asked of McCoy. Goodbye old chum.
Why Mack favors the pro-style over the spread is an interesting question which I can only answer with further speculation. Before I make some suggestions let me offer a broad definition for "pro-style"
Pro-Style offense: A multiple offensive style which utilizes West-Coast passing concepts but is primarily based around power running leading to play-action opportunities. An offense such as you would commonly find in the NFL.
For the most part, all NFL offenses are basically the same, with the Patriots and Saints recent examples of more "multiple" teams that have seen the advantage in using spread sets to destroy defenses who are limited by roster size and consequently make personnel decisions to stop the run and which lag behind the offensive trends in the league. Watch the Steelers crush the offense of some hapless AFC team this week, than go watch what happened when the Patriots made their front 7 cover waterbugs in space.
Belichek's genius aside, the pro-style offense appeals to Mack first and foremost, I believe, because it's an easy selling point for elite recruits who dream of playing in the NFL. "We'll teach you the skills you'll use at the next level." Urban Meyer did just fine without this selling point but the USC staff, Tressel, and much of the SEC consider this to be sacrosanct.
Along these same lines is the notion of the pro-style as an imposition of will afforded by those who have superior athletes. To execute a downhill running game and then punish teams over the top you need to be able to block their front, mano y mano, and you need to have one of those 6-3 4.4 types at the X position. The aforementioned coaches believe that everyone would run this style of offense if they had the athletes and that's why option football or the AirRaid are often dismissed as "gimmicks".
Take comfort in the fact that with a Paul Chryst (matched with a real S&C program) or Frank Cignetti, Mack will tremendously upgrade his staff in terms of teaching and implementing this scheme, but the point remains that after Vince Young and Colt McCoy he still doesn't get it. After Texas' 4 BCS Bowls, of which they have won 3, he is stealing the approach of the vanquished foe. He seeks only to ward off the spread with nickel packages, zone-blitzes and pattern-matching before re-sanctifying the field with classical smashmouth football.
It's a lack of understanding of innovation and it's the reason why, when Mack's legacy reclamation project is over, DKR will remain no. 1 on the 40 acres.