In the middle of a sea of disappointment and derelict expectations, a lifeboat is rapidly sinking, the stern emblazoned with the Longhorns logo punctured and allowing sprays of salt water into the interior. Disgruntled fans, personnel, and donors are famished sharks encircling the boat, becoming frenzied as their instincts signify that the end is near for their upcoming meal.
On board, Charlie Strong and Vance Bedford are desperate for rescue. After assuring the media that he trusted Bedford with the defense last week, Strong suddenly shoves Bedford over board, demoting his six-year coaching ally to DB coach — a desperate move that permits him time for survival – a doomed man scooping bucketfuls of water out of the sinking franchise that is the Texas Longhorns.
The demotion of coach Bedford was a necessity, considering that UT is sacrificing the most points (38.2) in program history. The Longhorns have been in existence since 1902, making the high marker for points allowed a colossal failure on every possible level. In fact, this year’s Texas unit is the first defense in school history to sacrifice 45 points in three of its first four games.
Against the Cowboys last Saturday, the defense probably would have played just as effectively watching from the bench, allowing OSU to air out balls down the field for 392 yards of passing offense (555 total). The demotion of Bedford to secondary coach, instead of being dismissed, is baffling because the DB position is Texas’ greatest weakness. In four games, UT has allowed an average 276 passing yards-a generous number considering one game was against a poor UTEP offense.
With the breadth of talented coaches currently unemployed, it’s unfathomable to think Strong would return after finishing this year with the third consecutive losing season since 1937.
Here are some of the coaches that could replace him:
If Strong were fired midseason, the simplest short term fix — plugging a rolled up towel in the punctured stern of UT’s boat — would be promoting Sterling Gilbert. The former Tulsa OC hire has been the sole bright spot on Texas’ lackluster coaching staff. Gilbert accomplished everything as advertised: he quickened the pace of the Longhorns offense, increasing plays-per-game from 67.8 to 84.8 and yards per game from 370.8 to 517.2.
- Les Miles
No way will the LSU legend be unemployed for long. His coaching resume is solid, boasting a 114-34 record and leading the Tigers to two SEC titles and a 2007 BCS national championship. The biggest positive of coach Strong is his ability as a talented recruiter, which coach Miles excels at.
2. Art Briles
Art Briles stock is plummeting with how good Baylor has been this season. Despite his ignorance to sexual assault, he is talented in terms of X’s and O’s, but his price tag is more expensive with the ethics tax that comes with it. Briles finished his career with the Bears riding a five season win streak, all years ending in consecutive bowl appearances.
3. Tom Herman
If Houston doesn’t get in the Big 12, Tom Herman is probably gone. The Cougars will throw everything and the kitchen sink in terms of contract incentives towards the second year coach. But, UH money ain’t UT money. Herman will be the most valuable coach on the market this offseason, and everyone will be vying for his services. Already, the rumor mill is swirling about LSU’s interest. Texas will definitely be attending the Herman auction when bidding starts. Expect a very high opening offer.
4. Jon Gruden
The living Chucky doll seems pretty comfortable in the cushioned interior of the press box, but I wonder what it’s doing to his psyche watching brother Jay run the Redskins into the ground. There has to be some part of coaching that Gruden desperately misses. What better way to get back into the game than a fat check cut from Austin’s big budget. The former Bucs coach is one of the best in press relations, and the hype he would bring could resurrect the program ala Michigan before a single snap at Darrell K. Royal.
5. Chip Kelly
After a promising two years in the NFL, coach Kelly has lost his professional coaching skills, posting a 7-12 record his last two seasons so far. In his time with Philly, he completely stripped the team of all offensive weapons, opting to reboot the program in an era where “winning now” is paramount. In San Francisco, he’s been completely oblivious to the notion that Colin Kaepernick will always be superior to Blaine Gabbert. However, coach Kelly’s college resume is impressive – he boasts four consecutive winning seasons with the Oregon Ducks, and three straight top-5 AP rankings. The magic he could work with Texas quarterback Shane Buechele would elevate UT back in the Big 12 conversation.