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Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Who could Longhorns hire as RBs coach?

By Carter Strickland

AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas has made it official: The Longhorns are looking for a running backs coach.

Claude Mathis
DeSoto head coach Claude Mathis is well respected among his peers and could be an option for the Longhorns.
Oh yeah and Bryan Harsin is gone, Major Applewhite is now calling plays as the co-offensive coordinator, Darrell Wyatt has been elevated to co-offensive coordinator, Stacy Searels is now the assistant head coach for offense, and Bruce Chambers is in the primary staffer in charge of coordinator recruiting.

But forget all the Scrabble-tile shifting of titles at Texas for a moment, the Longhorns are in the market for a new running backs coach. Now all they have to do is figure out what type of qualities that coach must possess.

Someone who can figure out the distribution of carries for the running backs should not be on top of the list. That’s Applewhite’s job now. And seeing as how running backs already know how to run, well a great technician is not exactly a huge necessity either. It helps but it is not crucial.

What Texas needs in a running back coach is someone who can help recruit Texas. The Longhorns, through their own failings on the field, and Texas A&M’s momentum both on and off it, have become the less bright star in the state. More than anything high school players want to go to a place where they believe their talents can be showcased against the best. Right now the best place for that is Texas A&M.

The Aggies play in a superior conference and this year, at least, played superior ball to Texas. So it is not a huge shock that Texas A&M has 34 commitments and has steamrolled right into 2014.

That’s not to say Texas is not resigned to being a wallflower within the state. The Longhorns have the power to get any recruit they need in the state. It’s just that Texas needs some help flipping that switch. And that is where the running back coach comes into the picture.

Texas can go one of two routes here.

The first is with a Texas high school. DeSoto’s Claude Mathis fits this bill perfectly. He is up for national coach of the year, churns out of ton of recruits, wins on a consistent basis, has the respect of other high school coaches in the state and has shown with his brief dabble at going to Houston earlier this year (and then subsequently heading back to DeSoto) he is willing to make the jump to college.

What Mathis would do for Texas is curry tremendous favor for Mack Brown among high school coaches. It will once again show that Brown feels there is coaching talent at that level and is willing to give a high school coach a shot. The benefits of that are immeasurable when it comes to being tapped into the Texas high school network.

A Mathis hire would also give Texas a bridge between the world the current Longhorns coaches are in and the high school world. Mathis is more in touch with high school kids and understands their wants and needs better because he has been around them every day. Figuring out the psyche of a 17-year-old player is not an easy thing and Mathis could help in that.

Now, Texas might opt to go a completely different route with a veteran coach like Tim Brewster. Like Mathis, Brewster makes sense on several fronts.

Brewster and Brown have a long relationship, have worked together in the past at Texas and North Carolina and understand what each expects out of the other. Brewster respects Brown’s abilities so much he sent his son to play safety for the Longhorns. When Nolan was unable to play due to injury, Brown took care of him.

Brewster, who is a current assistant at Mississippi State, understands the college game and what it takes to win at this level.

More importantly, he also understands recruiting and recruiting in Texas. It was Brewster who was largely responsible or the signing of Vince Young. Although he has been removed form Texas for a decade, he still has connections and his name still carries weight in the state.

Additionally, he could serve as a shoulder for Applewhite as he transitions to play caller. Brewster has been there and might be the best person to serve as a go between with Applewhite and Brown.

There, of course, could be other candidates looked at and plenty of calls will be made. Texas has the money and has shown in the past that it is willing to search far and wide for a coach as it did with the current group of assistant. Eric Bienemy, who had been at Colorado, is possible coach whose name has been thrown around. Wisconsin’s Thomas Hammock is a strong national candidate.

But after going outside the program and state in the last round of hiring, the time might have come for Texas to look inside the state in order to help the program fill out its 2013 recruiting class and continue to build its 2014 class.