The Texas Longhorns have their offensive coordinator, as Tulsa Golden Hurricane co-offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert accepted the position on Thursday, according to a report from Horns247.
Orangebloods confirmed the report a short time later. as did Horns Digest, which believes that Gilbert will have a two-year contract, a year less than the three-year deal reportedly offered to the top candidate, TCU Horned Frogs co-offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie. However, the Tulsa World indicated some time later that those reports are false.
Gilbert was in Austin on Wednesday morning interviewing with head coach Charlie Strong just before Cumbie decided to stay in Fort Worth, However, it was not clear whether Gilbert had been offered the job and then things went quiet, with Strong interviewing Cal Golden Bears offensive coordinator Tony Franklin on Thursday hours before the news broke that Gilbert is in fact taking the position.
Now Strong has his guy and it needs to be the right hire for him because previous mistakes have cost him his margin for error. Gilbert faces a tall task faces the difficult task of resurrecting a Texas offensive attack that mostly sputtered in 2015, finishing No. 8 in the Big 12 in scoring offense, No. 7 in yards per play, and No. 6 in play sof 30 or more yards. The national stats are just as concerning -- the Horns ranked No. 67 in offensive S&P+, No. 114 in pashing S&P+, and dead last in adjusted sack rate. Given that the two Texas quarterbacks combined to average only 7.9 yards per attempt, which ranked tied for 78th nationally.
The new offensive coordinator's first big decision at Texas will be in regards to his offensive coaching staff. For weeks now, the widespread belief has been that Traylor and perhaps wide receivers coach Jay Norvell are the only likely candidates to remain on Gilbert's staff. So it's still likely that assistant head coach for offense/quarterfbacks coach Shawn Watson, offensive line coach Joe Wickline, and running backs coach Tommie Robinson will all depart with the expiration of their respective two-year contracts.
A good bet to join Gilbert in Austin is his co-offensive coordinator at Tulsa, Matt Mattox, who also coached the offensive line and followed Gilbert from Bowling Green.
On the surface, the biggest reason to like the addition of Gilbert is because he has extensive ties to the Art Briles coaching tree after working with Briles himself at Houston and then serving as the offensive coordinator for Briles proteges in Dino Babers and Phillip Montgomery.
What is the Briles spread? Nobis60 has a good synopsis:
Advantages: CFB's most consistently devastating offensive approach since 2011. Carries the potential to play Power against CFB's elite if you force honest box numbers. Undeniable broad-spectrum recruiting appeal for every offensive position. Can maximize 10+ carries a game from the QB position without relying on them. Can make a lot of the QB's reads for him allowing for a solid degree of plug-and-play functionality for guys with the right toolkit.
Disadvantages: Tough to find a real coaching tree practitioner out there. Probably needs a minimum 7 out of 10 on pure QB arm strength to make the vertical stretch component click
And here's a deeper look at Gilbert's resume, courtesy of his Tulsa bio:
Prior to his appointment at Tulsa, Gilbert was the co-offensive coordinator and quarterback coach for one season at Bowling Green State University. In his only year, the Falcons gained 432.9 yards to rank 42nd nationally for total yards, while gaining 173 yards on the ground and 259 yards passing. He helped coach BGSU to a victory over South Alabama in the 2014 Camellia Bowl.
Before his stint at Bowling Green, Gilbert served as the offensive coordinator at Eastern Illinois for two seasons, where in his second year was named FootballScoop FCS Coordinator of the Year in 2013. The Panthers led the nation in yards (589.5) and points per game (48.2) in 2013. In addition, EIU averaged 372.4 passing yards and 217.1 yards on the ground.
In his first season, Gilbert directed the Panthers up-tempo offense that ranked sixth in the nation in passing, eighth in total offense and 12th in scoring. EIU averaged 470.9 yards per game, 36.5 points and set several school records, including touchdown passes with 34.
Under the guidance of Gilbert, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was named the Walter Payton Award winner, the FCS equivalent of the Heisman Trophy - given to the nation's best player Garoppolo threw for 5,050 yards and 53 touchdowns in 2013 and during his two seasons under Gilbert's guidance passed for 8,873 yards and 84 scores. Garoppolo was a second round draft choice by the New England Patriots in the 2014 NFL Draft.
However, if there's a concern with Gilbert, it's that he hasn't called plays in either of his last two coaching stops, so he's relatively unproven in that regard.
On the other hand, he should be an effective recruiter for Texas after several stops around the state as a high school coach at Temple, San Angelo Lakeview, Abilene Cooper, and Springtown. Gilbert grew up in San Angelo and then played quarterback for Angelo State.