In the Ohio State game in 2005 in the Horseshoe, the game that helped vault Texas into the national championship game that January, defensive back Cedric Griffin chased down an Ohio State tight end to knock a ball away in the end zone that probably would have resulted in a Buckeye victory had the player made the touchdown catch.
At the time, it always seemed like the previous season's defensive coordinator, Greg Robinson, was in large part responsible for that play after making the entire defense finish at the football on every play in practice in 2004, even after a player was tackled or otherwise declared down in thud tempo drills.
Now Robinson is headed back to Texas as the newest member of the growing personnel staff, a department that didn't even exist before the March hire of Director of Player Personnel Patrick Suddes away from Alabama. The school announced the hire of Robinson on Wednesday.
A longtime NFL defensive coordinator, Robinson also worked as an offensive coordinator early in his career, allowing him to bring a little bit more versatility to the position than most coaches who have worked on only one side of the ball. Robinson is also returning to the site of his last coaching success -- his head coaching stint at Syracuse ended poorly, as did his time as defensive coordinator at Michigan under Rich Rodriguez. Robinson has not had a coaching job since the end of his tenure with the Wolverines in 2010.
The university release described his duties as follows:
He will handle quality control evaluation for the team, provide team video review, oversee the Longhorns self-scouting and provide assistance in opponent scouting. Robinson's focus will be to provide data, feedback and analysis to the Texas staff. The hiring of Robinson will also complete the newly created Longhorns' player personnel department and the additions to the football staff.
The hire immediately raised some speculation about how Robinson will interact with defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, who came under fire for his work last fall with a defense that ranked among the worst, if not the worst, in some raw, unadjusted statistical categories. Robinson tried to make it clear in his statement that he's not a threat to Diaz:
In (defensive coordinator) Manny (Diaz's) case, I don't want it in any way for him to feel like he has someone looking over his shoulder at all. That's not what I'm there for. I don't want to in any way inhibit him or any of the coaches. Mack and I talked about that, and that was important to me. I want these coaches to know that I'm there for them and just to be helpful and provide any information I can find, to review, study and provide them data that they'll have access to. That was really important to me and Mack agreed that was the right way. That's how I see this working.
What Robinson does represent is another voice with an opportunity to catch the ear of Diaz, who surely frustrated other members of the staff like defensive back coach Duane Akina and defensive tackle coach Bo Davis with his insistence on twisting his defensive ends and tackles on early downs, one of the primary culprits in Texas giving up large chunks of yardage on the ground and consistently losing gap control.
But do those coaches have enough capital with Diaz to tell him to drop some of his more unsound habits and rely more on base defenses that don't rely on the costly install associated with the numerous fire zones Diaz likes to employ?
Those are impossible questions to answer at this time and like the hire of Bob Shipley for a similar position on the personnel staff, Robinson's hire is well within Mack Brown's comfort zone -- this is another voice he is used to hearing, but for a man who doesn't trust easily, perhaps this is the only way.
The bottom line is that the heat is on Diaz this season just as much as it is on Brown, so anyone who has a chance to edge the Texas defensive coordinator towards some semblance of sanity in his defensive play calls is a positive addition to the staff.