If everything goes to plan, the search for the next Texas Longhorns offensive coordinator could essentially begin and end on Sunday, as Orangebloods reports that head coach Charlie Strong will meet with TCU Horned Frogs co-offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie on Sunday.
The same site broke the news early last week that Cumbie was the top target for the Longhorns. In the immediate aftermath of that revelation, it appeared that the pursuit of the Horned Frogs co-offensive coordinator could be short-lived when his co-offensive coordinator Doug Meacham looked close to taking the head coaching job for the North Texas Mean Green.
But Meacham reportedly removed his name from contention as North Texas honed in on North Carolina offensive coordinator Seth Littrell, who is expected to officially take the job after the ACC Championship Game, putting Cumbie back in play for Texas despite some belief from the TCU side that he would remain in Fort Worth.
So Cumbie is clearly the top candidate and could receive a promotion at Texas by becoming the play caller, a role held by Meacham at TCU.
Meacham and the former Texas Tech Red Raiders quarterback orchestrated the rise of Gary Patterson's offense in Fort Worth and the results were immediate and dramatic -- when the two joined the program in 2014, the Horned Frogs became the nation's most improved offense in total yards (+188.2 ypg) and scoring (+21.4 ppg). The points per game improvement of TCU's 21.4 broke the Big 12 record of 19.1 set by Oklahoma in 1999 and was the largest improvement by any college football team since 1999-00.
But offensive aptitude by itself isn't enough for the Longhorns -- Strong needs an accomplished quarterbacks coach and Cumbie would seem to fit that bill as well. When he arrived at TCU, Trevone Boykin was a failed quarterback whose brightest future appeared to be at wide receiver, but Cumbie and his Air Raid-derived offense help turn Boykin into the 2014 Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year and a 2015 Heisman candidate for much of the season.
Cumbie is also an enthusiastic and effective recruiter who could help the Longhorns in the Metroplex.
The 34-year-old played quarterback under Mike Leach at Texas Tech, turning in an impressive season as the starter before playing for several years in the Arena Football League. After a stint in the Indoor Football League, he spent four seasons back in Lubbock, rising to the role of play caller for the 2012 Meineke Car Bowl and quickly proving his aptitude by orchestrating a win over Minnesota.
Hiring Cumbie and allowing him the construct the offense in the image he see fit is hardly a guarantee, but he's the top candidate because he's the best available hire for the Longhorns. If Strong can make it happen, it would be best move he's made on offense in his two years by a wide margin.
Right now the key is Strong selling Cumbie on the opportunity and convincing him that he won't risk the advancement of his career by throwing in his lot with a coach who isn't guaranteed to last past the 2016 season at Texas.