The movement of coaches around college football means that some smaller jobs are opening up, increasing the spotlight on talented coordinators. With Chad Morris now the head coach for the Arkansas Razorbacks, the SMU Mustangs are looking for a replacement, with Texas Longhorns defensive coordinator Todd Orlando mentioned as a candidate by Horns247 on Wednesday.
Former Texas assistant Jeff Traylor is currently the interim head coach for Mustangs and is also a possible replacement for Morris, according to the report.
Orlando is an appealing target for SMU because he’s now spent three football seasons in the state of Texas and has a proven track record as a defensive coordinator — he was excellent at UConn, FIU, Utah State, and Houston before coming to Texas for the 2017 season.
The multiple 3-4 defense employed by Orlando was an immediate success in Austin. Under Charlie Strong in 2016, the Longhorns ranked No. 60 in defensive S&P+, but improved to No. 26 this season, including No. 15 against the run and No. 17 against the pass. All while facing the nation’s fourth most difficult schedule in the country and a host of its top quarterbacks.
The question is whether Orlando is ready right now to move on and become a head coach — it’s almost certain to happen at some point in the next several years. However, Orlando indicated last month that he has feels a high level of loyalty to his head coach.
“Tom Herman has been unbelievable to me,” Orlando said. “Unbelievable.”
After all, Orlando remarked, Herman was the one who hired him from Utah State, hardly a high-profile stop in college football. According to the defensive coordinator, most people don’t even know where the school is located. (For the record, it’s in Logan.)
“That’s my dude,” Orlando continued.
Things may change now if SMU does follow through on the reported interest in Orlando, but he denied any considerations about his future during that media availability 15 days ago.
“I’m not even remotely thinking about that part of it,” Orlando said. “I’m worried about these kids and every part of it, and that’s real.”
With the early signing period rapidly approaching, SMU will want to fill the vacancy as soon as possible, so Orlando may now have to spend some time thinking about where he’ll be coaching next season.
And Longhorns fans will worry about losing the best hire that Herman has made as a head coach.
In a best-case scenario, Orlando may simply be in line for a raise after making just more than $1 million this season. In a worst-case scenario, the young Texas head coach will have to make another inspired choice at defensive coordinator.