The first big coaching domino for the Texas Longhorns reportedly dropped on Sunday afternoon.
Per Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports, Texas has parted ways with defensive coordinator Todd Orlando after three seasons.
Source: Texas has fired defensive coordinator Todd Orlando.— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) December 1, 2019
Bruce Feldman of The Athletic confirmed the report shortly thereafter.
Orlando took the same position on Tom Herman’s staff in Austin after transitioning over from Herman’s staff in Houston, a hire that was considered a significant coup for the new Texas head coach when he took the job in 2017. Orlando’s first defense, led by veterans like nose tackle Poona Ford, linebacker Malik Jefferson, and safety DeShon Elliott ranked No. 14 nationally in SP+, third in the Big 12 in scoring defense, and No. 1 in the Big 12 in third-down defense.
As a result, Orlando became a hot commodity, reportedly interviewing for the head coaching job at SMU and drawing interest from Florida State and Texas A&M. He earned a contract extension that increased his annual compensation to $1.7 million, making him one of the highest-paid defensive coordinators in college football.
The 2018 season represented a step back for Orlando and the Texas defense, as the third-down success evaporated — the Longhorns dropped to No. 7 in the Big 12 in that category and struggled to get off the field. The scoring defense only dropped to fourth in the conference, but the cracks were starting to show, even with eight senior starters on defense.
When those contributors moved on, Texas was left with one of the most inexperienced defenses in the country, then suffered a rash of injuries early in the season. Unable to mount an effective pass rush or find success in pass defense or even tackle consistently, Orlando’s group held back an offense that ranked among the nation’s most effective through the first half of the season.
As the defense got healthier in recent weeks, the overall results improved, but Texas still suffered from coverage busts and ineffective blitzes.
Now Orlando is reportedly unemployed and no longer a rising star in the college football world, joining Vance Bedford and Manny Diaz as recent Longhorns defensive coordinator who failed to survive past a third season in Austin.
Per Anwar Richardson of Orangebloods, safeties coach Craig Naivar will take over play-calling duties for the bowl game.
Texas football coach Tom Herman has fired Todd Orlando, according to my sources. From what I was told, Longhorn co-defensive coordinator Craig Naivar is expected to take Orlando’s position from now until the bowl game.— Anwar Richardson (@AnwarRichardson) December 1, 2019
Richardson also goes on to say that former Rutgers head coach Chris Ash is a top candidate to replace Orlando as the defensive coordinator in Austin. Ash was the co-DC at Ohio State from 2014-2015 before taking the job at Rutgers.
I hear former Rutgers coach Chris Ash is the top candidate to replace Todd Orlando. Ash and Herman worked together at Ohio State. Ash was the defensive coordinator.— Anwar Richardson (@AnwarRichardson) December 1, 2019