Why would a Cowboy fan coaching favorite, the highest paid assistant on the OSU staff (tied with DC Glenn Spencer), the King of Stillwater with permanent job security who thrived on a cult following as one of the best OL coaches in the business - come to Texas?
The answer is pretty simple.
"He demands accountability," Wickline said of Strong. Wickline called Strong "brilliant," a "perfectionist" and "an extremely hard worker"— qualities that were already evident during their long hours working as young coaches in Gainesville.
Mack Brown went after Wickline with an open checkbook in 2010 and was rebuffed in part because of a lack of perceived cultural fit. More than his praise for Strong, Wickline's move to Austin is the biggest endorsement of the Strong regime to date. Joe is here because he thinks Charlie Strong is going to build something special. Why else would he give up his rock star status in Stillwater?
His move is the message.
"I don’t want anybody to think that OSU is not a terrific place to live, to work… It was a scenario that I felt it was a good situation for me at the time — for me, right now, because of the dynamics of the way it’s set up (at Texas).
Whether he's speaking generally about the fact that he believes in Strong and what he may be able to unleash from Austin with greater talent paired with real accountability or referring to his new role as perhaps something more than just the OL coach remains to be seen.
I came across some additional thoughts from Wickline that definitely piqued my interest. Stick around the end.
On his penchant for mixing and matching OL personnel:
"To me, it was more of a competition deal. If I have a second-team right tackle and he’s better than the first-team left guard, but he hasn’t played left guard, (the original left guard) just goes the rest of the year. The left guard may kind of be not very good. No, no, no, somebody’s got to move. Somebody has to move for competition.
"It’s not that hard … I mean, gee-whiz, just get in front of somebody."
On recruiting elite players and the star system
"You don’t always have to have the stars. Before, I came from Florida and everybody spent so much tripping over each other and reaching through the supposed (stars). And you need those guys. I’m not suggesting you don’t. But you can still round up a bunch of people that like the game, that have a big-time passion. You can develop people that have a lot of a lot of passion for the game, and you’re going to be hard to beat. And I’ve seen that happen here. I know we’ve had some stars here, but if you really look back on it, there have been a bunch of people who were like two stars (in recruiting) or just normal walk-ons and they join in together and say, ‘Hey, by George, let’s get this thing done.’
What makes Wickline more old school - the fact that he looks like a 1956 PE teacher or the fact that he says,"By George?"
But Wickline is a decidedly non-conformist thinker when it comes to the game. Keep him away from all NFL studio shows. Wickline's had thoughts on jockocracy, coaches as teachers, and coaching hierarchies determined by profile of school. WARNING: You're about to experience a paragraph of awesome.
That’s like guys saying you have to play to coach. There are too many guys out there who are really good coaches who never played a down of football. Offensively, if you ran the wishbone and coached it, (does that mean) well, then you can’t coach the spread? Maybe I’m wrong, but a ballcoach is a teacher. A coach is a coach. It’s all about getting your guys to do the right thing and I believe, to a degree, he’s a good coach and a good teacher, he can do it. Now, I don’t know about the NFL, but I’ve seen a bunch of D-II coaches. At some point in time, you’re going to go up. A lot of those guys are much clearer and they take care of their business in a better way because they’ve had to, versus maybe a guy that’s coming from (a school) with three big playmakers and (they) just make up for (the coach).