The hire at OC is arguably the most important one that a defensive-minded Head Coach makes. The S&C Coach is essential in regards to building a culture and developing players, but difference making recruits often make choices based on fit and opportunity in a particular offensive system.
As Scipio has noted, defensive coaches often tend to have one of two minds regarding the teams' offensive system.
A) They'll choose a coordinator from a system or school that they always feared and hated to defend, or
B) They emphasize on offense that will share their preference for physicality and toughness.
Bob Stoops fits into category A. Terrified of Kentucky's Air Raid system while at Florida, Stoops made it a point to install Leach immediately in Norman and has maintained many of the Air Raid principles through to today.
Will Muschamp is a clear category B who prioritized installing a system that helped him build a physical and well tested D, could impose its will in the run game, and could help him sell recruits on coming to Florida to play in pro-style schemes.
Neither approach is flawed, but the key is for the HC to have a firm vision of what he wants on offense and the willingness to learn how to oversee such an operation. Former coordinators who prefer to have an autonomous department in the hands of a strong coordinator hire are at the mercy of their hires, which will not necessarily be consistent because the Coach hasn't taken the time to master the principles he's after.
At this stage, Bob Stoops and Nick Saban are as thoroughly immersed in what their offenses look like as what their defenses are up to. Consequently, they can consistently develop coaching talent and insure quality control over their offenses. Gary Patterson pays less attention to the offensive side of the ball. If he has a great up and coming coordinator like Justin Fuente, he's in good shape. If he leaves and the replacement is a dud? The Frogs wet the bed right when stepping onto the national stage.
When Strong is choosing his next OC, it'll be important to observe whether he chooses a system or philosophy that he's eager to take ownership of, or if he takes an established hire and then gives them total autonomy until they screw up. It won't necessarily be a bad sign if he hires a very established OC, but it'll be interesting to see how much his hand is in the system over the next few years, particularly if he has to make a 2nd hire.
All that said, what philosophy and identity should Strong be looking to implement at Texas?
From what he ran at Louisville and his limited statements thus far in Austin, I suspect he prefers an up-tempo system, the ability to be wide open (attacking downfield in the passing game), and to be physical at the point of attack.
That's a great start and I believe each of those features would play very well into the resources available here at Texas. Those resources are:
-A state that is producing athletic but extremely well-developed passers and receivers.
-A current roster with powerful and athletic bodies OL, potentially capable of adapting to basically any type of blocking system
-Three QB's on the roster who are solid-to-strong runners but have higher upside as passers
-A dearth of receiving TE's on the roster but an abundance of talented wideouts
-A pair of physical running backs
-A 2014 that will feature some really solid upperclassmen like Espinosa and Shipley but no obvious game breakers unless Daje fits back in or younger players are developed into stars.
Some of the popular names thrown around as potential OC hires for Texas have included the likes of Rhett Lashlee from Auburn and Tom Herman from Ohio St. I'm going to argue that these would not fit either Strong's stated vision for the Texas offense, nor the sum of the resources available at Texas.
Herman began to falter at Iowa St and was rescued by Urban Meyer at Ohio St and handed an experienced crop of extremely talented OL, one of the most dangerous running QB's in the nation, and one of the more versatile and physical RB's in the nation.
Watch an Ohio St game sometime. You'll see them run Zone Read, Power Read, throw a screen, and chuck a downfield pass on play-action. Watch Lashlee's (i.e. Malzahn's) offense at Auburn and you'll see the same thing. Athletic and powerful OL, exceptionally simple passing game, and runs that prominently feature the QB as a runner.
None of the QB's on Texas' roster would thrive if featured in those systems, nor would Texas finally be able to take advantage of talents like Andrew Luck or RG3 in the future in those offenses. Don't get me wrong, they aren't terrible offenses, but it would be years before they reached their full impact at Texas.
If you think Swoopes would come alive in those systems I'd encourage you to watch the angles of pursuit and effort level of the D at the 2013 spring game on his scrambles, or the his ability to change direction and accelerate in his limited action in the season.
There's the added concern that these coordinators are thriving under Head Coaches who are clearly heavily involved in the offense, much like if you hired Kirby Smart as your HC.
I'm not richly up to date on the various hires available to Strong but I believe that the ideal Texas' system would match some of the following descriptions:
1) A run game built around inside and outside zone that can involve the QB BUT DOES NOT depend on him as a featured runner.
Power is a great run concept, Power-read is basically a Veer play that asks your QB to cut up the grain on an interior running lane. It's not a great concept if you want your QB to be healthy and throwing the ball into downfield windows late in the season.
As it happens, Texas' likely starters on OL next year are proficient in outside zone and it'd make for a strong feature for the 2014 team to hang its hat on. That said, there are different ways to run these Zone concepts. If Strong is serious about being a physical team he won't bring in Noel Mazzone to run a "catch and screen" inside zone call that doesn't look to score vertical displacement.
Those aren't terrible ways to block the run but they don't take advantage of a guy like Estelle or Raulerson who could be taught to lean on and totally exhaust an opponent. I'd prefer we run these schemes more like Alabama than Missouri.
2) A passing game with a limited number of concepts but a large variety of after-snap reads and options.
Passing games are becoming more sophisticated today in how they can give a QB lots of options for attacking multiple defensive looks within a single play call. At a place like Texas, you want to be as simple as possible so that you can focus on accumulating tremendous talent and teaching the players to execute at a high level.
Think Jimbo Fisher and the FSU offense that just won a title with a redshirt freshman.
I'd prefer that the route adjustments to coverage reflect a desire to score with the deep ball as frequently in a game as possible, ala the Briles' Bears. If you're good at it, you do it often enough, and you don't care if your victories have scores like 50-30 rather than 30-10, it's an exceptional option for a team likely to have access to the players who can do it.
3) Packaged plays and fast tempo
This is the future and you can do it from pro-style looks as well as spread-option systems, you needn't ask your QB to run the ball 10+ times a game, just watch a West Virginia game and you'll see what I mean.
Every team with access to elite athletes should rely on quick tempo. You kill teams that don't have depth, you protect your ability to be simple on offense from complicated defensive responses, and you increase the sample size every game in which inferior athletes have to beat your players at execution.
4) The ability to utilize multiple formations
What if Texas' has a crop of exceptional receiving TE's one year and perhaps some versatile fullbacks the next? Briles has great success recruiting cookie-cutter pieces for his offense but it'd be nice if Texas' concepts could be flexible enough to feature a phenomenal TE, an unstoppable slot receiver, an elite tailback, or a dual-threat QB with the formations.
Ideally, you have players that can play multiple positions so you can hammer a defense with different formations and angles at high speed without substituting.
Anyways, these are my thoughts on the direction Strong should and might take at OC, what are y'all thinking? Anyone you'd like to see here?