On Friday morning, the Texas Longhorns officially hired longtime Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor as the tight ends coach:
UT has officially hired longtime Gilmer HC Jeff Traylor as TE/special teams coach. Brick Haley expected to be announced as DL coach soon.— Longhorn Network (@LonghornNetwork) February 13, 2015
I have officially accepted the job at the University of Texas. I know without the coaches of East Texas none of this would have happened.— Jeff Traylor (@CoachTraylor) February 13, 2015
Traylor met with Strong on Monday and then formally interviewed for the job on Tuesday after Cedar Hill head coach Joey McGuire turned down the position over the weekend. Multiple reports then emerged that Traylor would accept the job, but on Wednesday the story went that Traylor had a Friday deadline to accept the job.
However, it wasn't clear which camp would break the news first -- some reports had Traylor making a recruiting-style announcement that sparked Twitter jokes about a press conference with hats on the table. A dialed-in reporter out of Tyler who broke news of the Friday deadline said that the announcement would come from Strong and the Texas camp, not Traylor.
And so it did.
"To have the opportunity to join Coach Strong at The University of Texas was one I just couldn't pass up," Traylor told David Smoak of Smoaky.com. "I have had chances to enter the college ranks before but this time it was just too good of an opportunity. I really believe in what Coach Strong stands for and I want to go help anyway I can. I believe Coach Strong will return Texas to national prominence and I would like to be a part of that."
Calling it the most difficult decision he's ever made, Traylor clarified that he wasn't offered the job until Wednesday and called the opportunity a "dream come true" in a statement released through the school.
"Jeff's a tremendous football coach who has built a program at Gilmer that has had unbelievable success," Strong said. "He's a guy that we've watched, admired and really gotten to know. The thing about Jeff is he's just so passionate about the game and his players. We had a chance to get him in for an interview and around our staff, and he really impressed all of us. He has a great deal of knowledge and experience and having coached in this state for so long, really knows Texas. East Texas has so many great players that it really helps us to have a guy like Jeff on staff that knows the area so well. We're excited to have him on board."
Since the decision was so difficult for Traylor, Strong had to sell him on more than the program -- he had to sell him on his own values and beliefs as a coach.
"The first thing that drew me to this opportunity was Coach Strong and his core beliefs," Traylor said. "I've listened to him recruit my kids, and I just liked what he was saying. I've been down (in Austin), and I see that his words match his actions. He's a man's man, and I want to help him. He offered me a chance to do that, so I took him up on it.
"He's done an amazing job. I felt at home the whole time I was there. They're tough, they work their kids hard, but they love their kids. They're good men, they're honest people, and they're just tough. They're the kind of men you want your son to play for. I can't wait to go to work with all of them."
Traylor has sent multiple players to Texas, including 2015 cornerback signee Kris Boyd, Boyd's cousin, cornerback Curtis Brown, and offensive lineman David Snow.
After leading the East Texas power for 15 years, the Gilmer head coach will replace another former Texas high school coach in Bruce Chambers, who was let go after serving under former head coach Mack Brown and new head coach Charlie Strong at Texas for 17 years.
One East Texas observer said it would be a "home-run hire" for Texas because Traylor can both coach at a high level and relate to his players, attributes that made McGuire so appealing when reports of his job offer emerged.
Traylor's resume certainly backs up the former part of that argument, as he compiled a 175-26 record at Glimer that included state championships in 2004, 2009, and 2014, along with title game appearances in 2007 and 2012. His first team went 6-4 and missed the playoffs, but every subsequent squad has won eight games and appeared in the postseason.
Texas needs help in the region because Boyd was the only East Texas signee for the Horns in the 2015 class compared to six from the region for Texas A&M, illustrating just how far behind the Longhorns are falling in that area since the Aggies are increasingly locking down East Texas talent.
In fact, the Texas A&M has a mobile billboard driving around the region touting the recruiting accomplishments there:
Now that the hire is official, Traylor should certainly help in that regard because of his reputation and his deep ties to the region as a Gilmer alum and former head coach.