The Texas Longhorns have their next head football coach in Charlie Strong, so the next step is for Strong to start putting together his coaching staff.
The two sides of that equation are deciding which coaches Strong wants to retain from the current staff, if any, and which coaches he wants to bring with him.
In the latter category, one coach on the staff will not be coming to Austin with Strong -- defensive line coach Clint Hurtt, who has a show-cause penalty from the NCAA as a result of his involvement in the Nevin Shapiro scandal while at Miami.
Dan Rubenstein of SB Nation reviews the early-offseason coaching hires, including Strong at Texas
Here's the early list of which assistants will be following Strong from Louisville:
Source tells Horns247 that Lville assts Vance Bedford, Brian Jean-Mary and Pat Moorer will follow Charlie Strong to Austin. #TexasStrong— Bobby Burton (@BobbyBurton247) January 5, 2014
That list was confirmed on Monday by Geoff Ketchum of Orangebloods, though Strong was not willing to say during his introductory press conference on Monday which assistants he was planning on bringing with him.
The first change happened on Tuesday morning with former football strength and conditioning coach Bennie Wylie's farewell tweet. Louisville strength and conditioning coach Pat Moorer is expected to replace him.
Unfortunately for Greg Robinson, who did more than an admirable and more than an acceptable job at Texas as the defensive coordinator, the ties between Strong and Bedford that date from Bedford's time as defensive back coach at Florida under Strong are significant.
Bedford also played cornerback for Texas and was a two-time SWC all-second team selection, making his addition to Strong's staff in Austin pretty much a no-brainer, it would seem. The only hold up may be another job offer -- Bedford reportedly interviewed for the Louisville head coaching position on Monday, though that would seem like a courtesy more than anything else given that his only other stint as a defensive coordinator ended with his dismissal from Oklahoma State.
As a Beaumont native, he provides some Texas ties that Strong lacks other than his year at Texas A&M as a graduate assistant in 1985. And with Strong's experience as a highly successful defensive coordinator for two national championship teams at Florida, the fact that Bedford didn't work out as a defensive coordinator at Oklahoma State under an offensively-minded head coach in Mike Gundy doesn't really matter that much. For Texas, at least -- it probably matters for Louisville.
What matters more for the Longhorns is that Bedford can sell NFL coaching experience and potentially help out Duane Akina teaching zone defenses to Texas defensive backs if Strong chooses to retain the current defensive backs coach. Can Texas get better there with change for change's sake? Or could Bedford potentially coach the defensive backs?
That all remains to be seen, but Strong did say on the Longhorn Network Monday that he likes to play an aggressive, blitzing defense that plays man coverage behind it, a style that would seem to suit Akina's skill set developing cornerbacks who can play man coverage.
Louisville had Jean-Mary as the linebackers coach, a position that Texas hasn't had in some years, as both Will Muschamp and Manny Diaz both handled those duties. For the purposes of the Longhorns, that fact isn't as relevant as the fact that Jean-Mary took over as recruiting coordinator after Hurtt's issues with the NCAA, which could easily have cost him his job at Louisville since he couldn't recruit, perhaps a sign of Strong's supposed loyalty to his assistants.
If Jean-Mary does follow Strong from Louisville, it would make sense that he would hold those duties for Texas, raising the question of whether it would be ideal to have a recruiting coordinator with deeper ties to the state?
To that end, there have been some rumors about Ed Orgeron as a possible defensive line coach and potential recruiting coordinator, though that seems rather far fetched.
There was also a report that Strong will retain current recruiting coordinator/tight end coach Bruce Chambers and defensive end coach Oscar Giles.
Giles has a strong case to stay because of his consistent ability to put defensive ends in the NFL -- his development of Cedric Reed from a lean East Texas product to one of the conference's most fearsome ends and a potential early entrant to the NFL Draft is only the most recent example of his excellent work.
Chambers, on the other hand, is known as the weakest coach on the staff, overseeing a position that hasn't recruited or developed players particularly well. The primary appeal to keeping him is his ties to Texas high school coaches since he came from those ranks -- if he stays, it would make sense to keep him as the recruiting coordinator.
Offensive line coach Stacy Searels has a chance to stay after he was passed over for the same position at Florida. Some of the choices in 2014 recruiting -- like the lack of a high school offensive tackle take to this point in the process -- are a bit concerning, but there's no question that the offensive line got better over the last three seasons and was a strength of the team throughout much of the 2013 season.
At the running back position, Larry Porter is another strong candidate to stay because of his ties to Louisiana and overall high profile as a strong recruiter as a position that doesn't need much coaching. It would be hard for Texas to do better than Porter is terms of recruiting chops. Perhaps impossible.
The other offensive coach, co-offensive coordinator and wide receiver coach Darrell Wyatt, has a case to stay because of his recruiting acumen and the toughness that he instilled in the unit as blockers.
On the defensive side, defensive tackle coach Bo Davis has done a solid job, but the misses on A'Shawn Robinson and Andrew Billings in the 2012 class are a serious blight on his resume.
So what are the possibilities of keeping Major Applewhite as the offensive coordinator? Barking Carnival reported earlier in the week that Applewhite had already agreed to a severance package. However, that was probably a bit premature and the fact remains that everything Applewhite wanted to do with the offense was derailed when David Ash went down with his concussion and couldn't return.
Add in the numerous other injuries and suspensions of Daje Johnson and there are plenty of available excuses for why Applewhite didn't blow away observers with his work in his first year as play caller at Texas.
The problem is that there aren't any especially compelling reasons to settle for a still-unproven play caller when the offensive coordinator position is the single hire that Strong has to get absolutely right for the Longhorns moving forward.
Out of necessity comes the need for a potentially hefty contract offer to land the best candidate available and there's no question that Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris would represent a home-run hire in his return to the state of Texas. It's only a matter of time before Morris gets his opportunity to run a college program and a successful run in one or two years in Austin could vault him to an even better job than he is line for right now coming out of Clemson.
With Tajh Boyd heading to the NFL, Morris may look to make a move to another coordinator position if he can't land a job like Louisville. However, he still seems unlikely to end up in Austin, as fantastic of a hire as it would clearly be for the Longhorns.
Shawn Watson did a reasonable job with a lot of NFL-type concepts at Louisville that are rather uninspiring, which described his offenses at Nebraska pretty well. As a result, uninspiring is the word that fits with Strong potentially bringing in Watson as his offensive coordinator.
Strong offered some thoughts on what he wants the offense to be on Monday.
"You want an up-tempo offense," he said. "The offense is very aggressive. They like to score points and you'd like to see it wide open. They have to realize this -- t's still all about just physical toughness. Can you go run the football? You know at the end of the day, you have to line up and run the ball, and that is going to be built just within the toughness of your program."
Then there's the still-new personnel department that includes football analyst Bob Shipley and Directory of Player Personnel Patrick Suddes. Suddes has by all accounts been a strong addition -- there's no need for change there just to make changes -- while Shipley has the Texas high school coaching connections that will benefit the program even more.
The new Texas head coach may want to consider adding to the group if he doesn't have any qualms about potential restrictions on size for support staff.
And so as Strong puts together his first staff at Texas, Longhorns fans will gain perspective into the qualities that he values as a head coach, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
If Strong gets the hires right, the Longhorns should have a chance to vault back into contention, perhaps as early as 2015. If not, well, let's just not worry about that right at the moment.