- Max Olson, ESPN Staff Writer
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This week, we’re taking a closer look at the members of the new Texas coaching staff under Charlie Strong. The fourth part of our two-a-days series focuses on two experienced defensive coaches Strong brought in from other schools, and what they’ll bring to their respective position groups.
Assistant head coach/defensive line
Rumph must get this question a lot: What’s it like at Alabama?
Actually, the inquiry probably sounds more like this: No, what’s it really like at Alabama?
Texas’ new defensive line coach arrives fresh off a three-year stint with the great dynasty of college football. Rumph got two national title rings, coached NFL-caliber players and recruited five-stars. He knows The Process like the back of his hand.
And it’s probably safe to say he gets lots of questions about Nick Saban, too.
“He has a method to his madness and you can’t knock it,” Rumph said. “Whatever you want to say about it, you can’t knock it. Because it works.”
What’s the secret to Bama’s success? This will sound cliché, of course, but Rumph believes much of what makes the difference comes down to two big things: Accountability and attention to detail.
At Alabama, those are the core standards. At Texas, it’s a must if you want to play for Rumph.
“If I tell you that you need to walk one mile,” Rumph said, “and you walk a half mile, I’ve got issues with that. I think that’s the difference for some programs.
“We say get behind the line. Everybody better be behind the line. We say run 10 yards. You better run 10 yards. Not eight, not nine. A lot of places that aren’t successful are that nine yards, that ‘He ran hard but he only ran nine yards, he didn’t run 10 yards.’ I see the same thing here. We tell those guys it’s attention to detail. It’s about the little things, about doing your job.”
It’s like a dam, he says. All it takes is one little crack that goes overlooked and, over time, the dam busts.
Crimson Tide players had to be dedicated to doing things the right way every single time. When you do a squat in the weight room, Rumph said, it better be the best squat ever. You better dominate that squat, and then do it again. That’s how you build toward big things.
“Stop being so result-oriented,” Rumph said. “I tell my guys, don’t worry about making 10 sacks. Don’t worry about 20 sacks. Just the process to get there.”
Even with Alabama’s gigantic turnaround under Saban, Rumph proudly says Texas is the “best university in the universe.” How quickly the Longhorns regain their national prestige will depend on how quickly the players buy into what Rumph and the coaches are demanding.
As he put it: “We want to make the most feared statement in college football: ‘We play Texas next.’”
Defensive backs/special teams
When you dedicate eight years of your career to being a recruiting coordinator in the SEC, you learn a few things along the way.
Four years of those duties at Arkansas and four more at Ole Miss gave Vaughn a wealth of knowledge about how to win a kid over. The key, he says, is knowing that convincing the recruit is a small piece of the pie.
Recruiting is a game of relationships, a lesson that Vaughn learned over and over and was reinforced by his 13 years of working with former head coach Houston Nutt.
“We all sound like car salesmen, of course, because we want to sell our university and what we believe in,” Vaughn said. “But it’s the mom and dad, the grandmother, the uncle, that when all the schools come in, they see through what’s on the side of the helmet or what type of shoes you’re wearing or the people sitting in the stadium.
“They just want to know somebody is going to take care of their baby. I think that’s one thing I really learned from Houston: You’ve got to build relationships with the family. At the end of the day, that young man is going to ask a family member close to them, ‘What do you think?’”
Vaughn, who will recruit southeast Texas and Louisiana for Texas, has ties all over the South from his past gigs. Those should pay dividends in the instances when the Longhorns staff looks outside the state for talent.
One talent Vaughn always likes to see when he’s out evaluating recruits: Wrestlers.
Back in his days at Godby High in Tallahassee, Fla., Vaughn was runner-up in the state wrestling championship. He was an undersized 195-pounder in the 220-pound class, and he didn’t lose often.
“If a guy is a good wrestler, as a football player, that carries a little weight with me,” he said. “If he’s good, I know he’s dedicated, know he’s a hard worker, know he loves to compete and doing the little things are important to him.”
And when it comes to recruiting, those little things can make all the difference.
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