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The Coaching Hires: Who Is Calling The Shots?

There are some interesting layers to peel back on the coaching hire onion, so let's cut into it and weep.

First, I'm reading and hearing comments to the effect that Muschamp is telling Mack what to do right now - "steering the ship" - or that these changes are only being made with him in mind given Mack's probable retirement timeline; or even more improbably, on the other end of wrong, claims that Muschamp has no input in these hiring decisions whatsoever.

I think these characterizations are off-base.

Mack Brown has always given Muschamp great latitude in running the defense and Muschamp respects his public role as coach-in-waiting. Muschamp is young, ambitious, and doesn't suffer fools, but he also respects hierarchy. He's not pressing an advantage. And he can taste how close he is to having this job - whether in one year or three.

And Will Muschamp isn't passive-aggressive. He's Aggressive-aggressive.

Some of the things that he and Applewhite had previously floated by their boss (and quietly stewed over) in terms of staff development, resource allocation, recruiting, game planning, and a lack of optimization required the 5-7 disaster for Mack to find receptiveness and interest. The counterarguments - whether espoused by Mack, non-analytical people on the web, or the old staff - could no longer pass the laugh test because they now rest at the bottom of a thermonuclear bomb crater. The war is over, men. The Young Turks won. Not necessarily in the punitive, confrontational way we all like to imagine, but in a history-has-spoken-and-you-have-to-be-kidding-if-you-argue-otherwise way.

Before you bemoan that it took 5-7 for Mack to force change, if any of you have gone through life without needing to be smacked by some reality that others perceive and that you cannot, please take a bow. You're in a rare minority. Particularly when you're enjoying wild success.

When I was a college freshman, I wanted to pledge a fraternity. My older brother and father offered that given my love of good times and my wild overestimation of my own ability to get good grades without studying, I was unprepared to do so and my grades would suffer: crippling future options, perhaps even finding myself at ACC. Or the USMC. Naturally, I dismissed their counsel, became adamant in self-denial, and pledged.

Good times. Big fun! My grades resembled Joy Behar's sweaty perineum pressed against a mirror after jazzercise (when TEX read my grades aloud on UT's voice recognition system, I imagined mechanical chuckling), and my pledge semester, though often socially glorious, was a thorough academic disgrace.

I eventually buckled down, avoided getting kicked out, and graduated with UT with a lower division GPA powered by Bluto and an upper division GPA fueled by Hawking.

Thereafter, I became more receptive and interested in their feedback in certain matters while continuing to wildly overestimate my abilities in other facets of life.

In 2010, Mack Brown got his grades. He pulled down a smooth 0.0 GPA. He knows the score. And he's aware, on some level, that the reasons were exactly what some guys on his staff and even some pesky guys on the web had argued. That doesn't mean he knows exactly how to fix it, or that he understands statistical analysis yet (he doesn't), but he now has a deeper respect for the opinion of some who might.

The best way to understand the current hiring environment is that Muschamp is tasked with making the defensive hire, with Mack's input.

And Mack is making the offensive hires, with Muschamp's input.

Are there other factors? Yes. Is it a useful way to understand the situation, in short hand? I think so. Is it irritating when writers ask themselves questions and then answer them themselves? YES.

I imagine Major is certainly being consulted on the offensive discussions, though not all. Mack knows Major wants the OC job solely, but he's still figuring out who he may want to pair with him, if at all. So there are moving parts. Once he makes his selection(s), I'm sure he'll run them by Applewhite to assess compatibility. Or maybe Major gets knighted and he makes the picks too.

This season - after the chaos died - has given Mack back the gift of trust. A little, at least. Because when he said he couldn't trust his coaches mid-year, he wasn't kidding. He needed the whole year to unravel and, in that sense, not rallying to go 7-5 was a blessing. He had two competing narratives to choose from. The choice he made is obvious. Now that there is some distance, emotional and temporal, he's going to roll up his sleeves and try to fix things. Something he actually enjoys doing. The guy is a program builder - not a program optimizer. That's the beauty of blowing it all up.

So what's the staff build-out look like?

First, we're not necessarily making discrete hires at DT coach, OL coach, WR coach, and Offensive Coordinator. We shouldn't couch the dialogue in that manner, unless things happen to fall perfectly.

We're looking to hire a staff. Guys we've retained can serve multiple functions. And might be all or part of the OC solution.

Consider these general guidelines:


- If we hire a dedicated DT coach, it will be because he's a recruiting difference maker. Period.

- If Giles coaches the entire DL, we're going for a special teams coordinator (less likely) or a dedicated LB coach (more likely) to free up Muschamp from position coaching. And he'll be a recruiting difference maker.

- Bottom line - the guy we bring in will be a recruiting difference maker and a value-add who can do more than just coach DTs. We need a rainmaker.


- Applewhite is the key utility guy in the hiring process. He can do five things: serve as co-OC, OC, passing game coordinator, RB coach, QB coach. Whatever his title, he will have more offensive involvement.

- Chambers can coach TE or RB.

Note: I make a distinction between Co-OC and passing/running game coordinator (even though it's the same) because I'm 90% sure that the running game coordinator will also be an OL coach while a co-OC could coach WR, RB, QB, TE. A distinction helps to make the available candidates fall into line.

Once you know those things, some assumptions can be made:

- A running game coordinator is probably also going to be the OL coach. Bob Bostad-type hire.
- A co-OC can coach any other position, but they'll need to coach a position - TE, RB, QB, WR. Bryan Harsin-type hire.
- A dedicated OL coach, Running Game Coordinator, or co-OC will be hired first and foremost on coaching acumen. If they have recruiting value too, great. But the Xs and Os take precedence here.
- A dedicated WR or RB coach must be a recruiting rainmaker. See DT coach. Same requirements.
- If Major is sole OC, he will be QBs coach.

Mack essentially has a blank check to make his hires, so if we don't land a big, sexy hire at OC, expect a couple of coaches to get fancy titles next to their names as a means of jacking up salary and providing enticement.