As Texas officials worked behind the scenes to bring an end to the Tom Herman era atop the Longhorns football program and find Herman’s replacement as the future of the program, a key point for Texas leaders – from athletics director Chris Del Conte on down – was a coach’s vision for the program.
The Horns’ leaders received voluminous, detailed plans from candidates that addressed their vision for the future of Texas football, detailed recruiting plans, program tenets – and, perhaps chief amongst all items, a projected staff.
It’s in that area in which Steve Sarkisian separated himself, along with Sarkisian’s previous experience as a head coach and his career renaissance at Alabama as offensive coordinator of the Tide’s record-setting attack.
In terms of coordinators, Kyle Flood is a Sarkisian colleague now at Alabama, someone who people close to Sarkisian tell FootballScoop that Sark “likes him a lot.” Flood could be the Horns’ offensive coordinator and a key linchpin on Sarkisian’s staff.
Sarkisian also remained heavily involved in play-calling even as a head coach at both Washington and USC, so that’s a key dynamic and one that we’re told Flood well understands with Sarkisian.
Blake Gideon, a former Horns player who started 52 career games in Austin, has carved a niche as a top special teams coach and rising young assistant. Gideon served as special teams coordinator for Lane Kiffin’s inaugural Ole Miss squad, which capped its season Saturday with a win against Indiana in the Outback Bowl.
Sources said there’s mutual interest between Gideon and Sarkisian to join together at Texas.
At the defensive coordinator spot, Sarkisian can help Texas with a number of potential high-profile targets in a year in which defensive coordinators are very much in demand. Sources told FootballScoop that former Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, fired in November as South Carolina’s head coach, was expected to be in the mix for Sarkisian’s top defensive spot.
Kevin Steele, most recently Auburn’s interim head coach and defensive coordinator, also has emerged with multiple options that could include Texas.
Marcus Freeman, the wunderkind Cincinnati defensive coordinator, has elicited interest from Auburn’s new coach Bryan Harsin, as well as LSU, Michigan and Notre Dame. “Freeman would be an option,” said a source.
Zach Arnett, defensive coordinator at Mississippi State, has surged in national profile and did notable work in his first season with the Bulldogs; he’s considered a name to watch at Texas and with other openings.
Additionally, multiple sources told FootballScoop that a reunion of Sarkisian with defensive line specialist and recruiting guru Tosh Lupoi, who’s spent the past few seasons in the NFL, also has been discussed.
One final coach to keep an eye on is former UT assistant Chris Rumph. Rumph coached outside linebackers for the Houston Texans this season, but a return to Austin could be in his future.
We expect a number of these moves to become clear in the coming days.
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest coaching news.