Time is now for Applewhite to take reins

December, 17, 2012
12/17/12
5:48
PM ET
AUSTIN, Texas -- Bryan Harsin was the rebound.

Yep, after the coaching relationship between Texas coach Mack Brown and his former offensive coordinator Greg Davis over those oh so many years, wins and a national title, there had to be one. It was only natural.

[+] EnlargeMajor Applewhite
John Albright/Icon SMIMajor Applewhite will take over play-calling duties for the Longhorns and coach the quarterbacks.
Naturally that is not the way Brown explained it when given the opportunity to talk about the departure of his most recently departed co-offensive coordinator, Harsin, and the promoting of another, Major Applewhite.

"I told Major two years ago that I felt like it would be unfair to put him in the [offensive coordinator] position right after Greg Davis," Brown said. "He played for Greg. He coached with Greg and I didn’t think he would ever have a chance for it to be Major’s input. It would always be, 'Well, he’s still doing what Greg did.' And that’s not fair to him or Greg, very honestly.

"When [Applewhite] and I really thought about it -- and I didn’t know it would be two years -- but I thought probably whoever we brought in if we had some success, usually our guys get head jobs around here pretty quickly if they want them," he continued. "Bryan was a guy who came here to get a head coaching job. It’s the only reason he left Boise. I told Major you need to put yourself in the position of play caller every day because that day is going to come and it’s gong to come fast."

Seriously, throw Zooey Deschanel, Mila Kunis and Harrison Ford into this script on some just-rained-on-streets in the perfect Park Slope neighborhood and you have $40 million gross the first weekend at the box office.

Harsin wasn’t going to be around forever. Applewhite always was, dutifully standing by, just like Brown told him to be. So the recently divorced, fading action star (Brown) flirted with the first one (Harsin), found out it didn’t work -- not without some calamitous hijinks ensuing mind you (Oklahoma two years running) -- and only had to look to his left to find the perfect fit (Applewhite).

"He gets it," Brown said.

There you have it. Can somebody please call Universal? It’s time to option this thing.

Now as for scripting the future, well, that’s where it gets a tad tricky. Applewhite has not been made available to the press. Brown does not want to look beyond the Valero Alamo Bowl.

"There will be different things that we will look at and this isn’t the time talk to about it," Brown said.

If only that meant the time for talking was done at Texas. But apparently that only works in Kenny Rogers' songs because soon after Brown said he didn’t want to talk about how the offense might change under Applewhite he cautioned expecting too much of Applewhite too soon.

"It’s very unfair to judge him in any way with 13 practices before he has to call plays when he hasn’t called them in along time," Brown said.

Actually, that is the right tack to take. Like Brown said there are limited practices. Texas is still saddled with quarterbacks who lately have do-si-do’ed in and out of the game with a frequency that has been alarming to watch and surely just as dizzying for those dancing around them. It’s missing one of its top offensive linemen in Trey Hopkins. And Oregon State, in a conference not unlike the Big 12 when it comes to scoring, is ranked 33rd in FBS in defense. (TCU is the only team that was on Texas’ schedule to be ranked higher.)

Then again, Texas does have a collection of offensive talent -- Mike Davis, Daje Johnson, Malcolm Brown, Johnathan Gray, Jaxon Shipley, Marquise Goodwin -- that would make any person who drew up a play in the dirt drool.

While the game plan will still be a collaborative effort, Applewhite will be the one responsible for putting those players in the right position on the right plays. He will make all the calls in the Alamo Bowl. He also made the final call on the starting quarterback.

Well, sort of.

Brown was asked who made the call to go with David Ash over Case McCoy. The coach launched into circuitous answer in which it became clear the entire offensive staff came to the decision to start Ash and presented that to Brown. The coach interrupted the next question to point out: "The final decision would be Major’s. I have to ask the proper questions, but he has to make that decision."

When later in the press conference Brown was presented with the scenario of Applewhite approaching him to anoint McCoy as the starter, the coach, after turning more crimson than a Bob Stoops’ sweater, said: "Every final decision is the head coach’s. But 90-plus percent of the time I go with the position coach, because he is the one who is going to coach it."

This time Brown is going with his position coach, the one who has been by his side for two years, waiting for Brown to pick him. Close curtains. Applause.

Carter Strickland | email

Reporter, HornsNation

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