I'm not going to lie, this hurts. A lot of you guys are, justifiably in my opinion, freaking out. So hopefully this post can be cathartic, informative, and hope-inspiring. I'm going to take a look at the impact of losing Muschamp and potentially Applewhite on the team from a non-coaching perspective, as well as what Major could bring if he were to remain on the team in some capacity (which looks like it would have to be, at a minimum, co-OC). I'm also going to analyze Randy Shannon as a potential replacement at defensive coordinator.
Okay, first let's check out Muschamp. What did the guy bring to Texas? Well, other than good defenses, he broke the malaise of arrogance, laziness, entitlement that was floating around the athletics program since the national championship win. He replaced it with an air of youth, energy, enthusiasm, hope, and an unrefined passion for the game. Depending on whom you believe, he was responsible for much of the coaching change that was put into effect last week.
But to the players and recruits, Muschamp was even more than that. He was a foundation to build on and the decided future of the program, both in leadership and in attitude. Many posters over the Internet that attend Texas have stated that the younger players they've talked to on campus have overwhelmingly expressed that it wasn't the family atmosphere or the prestige that drew them to Texas, it was playing for Will. Other people have stated that players and coaches alike basically thought of the team as being Muschamp's since he was supposed to inherit it relatively soon. Fait accompli, if you will.
Now, the point of this post isn't to try to bring up some crazy notion about the team rebelling on Mack Brown and not following his leadership or quitting on him because Will was going to get the HC job soon. It's just a statement about how the team viewed Muschamp—he was going to be the guy, so Texas was becoming more and more "his team."
Now, the problem this creates is, ostensibly, Muschamp is no longer with the team. We've lost our foundation for the future and with that comes a lot of uncertainty. For both the players on the team and the recruits. Thus, the panic is widespread, and I can understand why. Mack Brown was certainly the face of the team, but I firmly believe Will (and Applewhite, to an extent) were its heart and soul.
Speaking of Major, he is a must to retain for the program right now. He is the hardest working recruiter on the staff and a young guy that injects the same fire, vigor, and work ethic that Muschamp does, albeit in a less demonstrative fashion. Why do you think the players in the locker room were so excited about reports that Applewhite was soon to be named OC? They love the guy as a coach, a friend, and as a change in the right direction.
I don't understand the argument of having no production from the running game. Not only is that not Major's forte (I'd like to see him at QB coach or WR coach, preferably the former), but he also didn't have much to work with talent-wise and I thought his players were technically competent and played harder than anybody else on the offense, with the possible exception of Gilbert. I also trust his recruiting evaluations, as he wanted Christine Michael a few years ago and Brandon Williams as a complement to Malcolm Brown this season. Mack and others overruled him on both counts.
By the way, Major is extremely close with Malcolm Brown, so whichever way that ends up going will likely play a huge part in whether Brown still decides to take his not insubstantial talents to Austin.
Applewhite is the guy that can hold the program together from the inside. Put him at co-OC with Harsin and move him to QB's coach where he belongs. Throw the recruiting coordinator tag on there also, along with Chambers. Give him an assistant head coach's salary or more. Whatever it takes.
Finally, I'm brought to Shannon, whom Texas was likely going to hire after the 2007 season before he took over for Larry Coker at Miami. if there's anybody in the country that has Muschamp's skill level as a DC, it's this guy. Remember all those absolutely loaded Miami defenses that crushed souls in the early 2000's? This dude. Let's run through a list of what makes Shannon, in my opinion, absolutely necessary for this team:
—As defensive coordinator at the U, he had only one defense ranked outside the top 10.
- 2001 - 6th
- 2002 - 7th
- 2003 - 2nd
- 2004 - 28th
- 2005 - 4th
- 2006 - 7th
Not bad, IMO. He also received the Broyles award in 2001.
—He put a ton of players into the NFL, particularly into the first round.
—He's supposed to be a very good recruiter, which shouldn't be too difficult considering he can go into a kid's house and recite the above two points.
—He's African-American, which can't go understated as to making many recruits feel much more comfortable in their recruitment as well as giving Texas a progressive image regarding their athletics program, instead of the staleness and stagnation that had pervaded the team.
—He had an absolutely horrible childhood, including his father being murdered when he was three, his older twin brothers becoming addicted to crack when he was 10, and his brothers and older sister all dying of AIDS. Despite all that, he turned away from that kind of life and is supposedly a really, really good human being. Incredible story. Point being, a lot of these kids have had tough upbringings, and Shannon knows what that was like.
—He's still young at 44.
—He coached both LBs and DL as well as playing LB in college. We all of a sudden have a very glaring hole at LB's coach...
—He has connections to the Miami community, probably the single most fertile recruiting ground in the entire country. If we could at all tap the Florida pipeline, despite Florida and FSU's likely imminent (continued) dominance of it, we're golden.
—His recent lack of success as a head coach works in our favor in two ways: First, he will be less of a target by big-time schools if he has a string of success as DC for Texas. Second, he will theoretically be less focused on becoming an HC himself, as he's already experienced the potential lows of that firsthand.
—He's unemployed, so we don't have to be nice and wait for him to coach a bowl game. Yes, even after what happened to us, I could actually see us still waiting to be polite in hiring. Unreal...
The guy is supposedly very good friends with Mack Brown [Edit: OB reports that this is untrue and that they hardly know each other, which is contradictory to everything I had read in the prior weeks. Wouldn't be surprised if they are correct, but I'm just kind of astounded that what they have is so disparate from what I read]. Recruits' families have stated that hiring Shannon now, not later, now, would go a long, long way towards solidifying their commitments. That's basically all I need to hear to know we need to lock this guy up within the next 24 hours and Stop. The. Bleeding. Not next week. Not two weeks from now. Not after the end of the year. Within the next day. He's the guy, so let's do this and get back on the right track ASAP.