The Texas Longhorns announced the reassignment of offensive coordinator Tim Beck on Sunday, although Beck will remain on staff and coach the quarterbacks for the time being.
In the immediate aftermath, the news of mutual interest between Texas and USC offensive coordinator Graham Harrell quickly broke, while many are insisting that Texas hire current LSU passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach Joe Brady for the position.
Either of those names would be considered a home-run hire by the Longhorn faithful, but questions still arise for either potential candidate. Brady has been extremely successful in 2019 at LSU, but the 30-year-old coach has no offensive coordinator experience. In fact, 2019 is Brady’s first year as a position coach of any type, so assuming that the 2019 success could turn into long-term success in a higher-pressure position is a bit presumptuous. Additionally, it has been reported LSU is already in negotiations with Brady for a new contract that would increase his $410,000 salary from 2019.
Harrell has been successful during his stops at USC and North Texas, but his ability to consistently run the football is in question. USC ranked 93 in line yards per carry in 2019, Furthermore, USC only averaged 4.1 yards per carry, and totaled 1,515 rushing yards in 2019. That seems like it would be a step back for a Texas team that averaged 4.7 yards per carry and totaled 2,064 rushing yards in 2019, despite the run game being the phase of Texas’ offense that could use the most improvement going forward.
With that said, let’s examine some of the other options Texas could entertain in its search for its next offensive coordinator.
Applewhite has seen extensive success as an offensive coordinator and was Herman’s play caller during his tenure as the Houston head coach. Applewhite, currently serving as an analyst for Nick Saban at Alabama, was not successful in his tenure as the Cougars head coach and was fired after the 2018 season. Regardless, the former Texas quarterback has had several successful stints as a coordinator and can recruit in Texas.
The comfort factor he has with Herman could also be beneficial because an instant turnaround of the Texas offense may be necessary to save Herman’s job in 2020. One major roadblock to this potential hire is controversy surrounding Applewhite’s behavior as a Texas assistant in 2009 and a settled lawsuit against the school over discrimination in the way the university handled that misconduct.
The 36-year-old SMU offensive coordinator has been calling plays for eight years now, and has led two top-10 offenses during his time at Auburn prior to leaving for UConn in 2017 due to perceived personal differences with Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn. After a one-year stint in Connecticut, Sonny Dykes hired Lashlee to run SMU’s offense. He struggled in his first year at SMU, ranking 94th in offensive FEI, but was able to turn the offense around in 2019, finishing 13th in the FEI and helping the Mustangs to a 10-2 regular season record.
Lashlee would pair well with Malzon understudy Herb Hand, who was hired prior to the 2018 season. In 2017 Lashlee and Hand coached an Auburn offense that ranked 26 in
Carey is currently the co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Tarleton State University. In 2018, his first year in that position, the Texans offense ran for 4,301 yards, an average of 301 yards per game. In 2019, the Texans averaged 45 points, 248 rush yards per game, and 531 yards of total offense. As the co-offensive coordinator, Carey has helped lead Tarleton State to consecutive LSC championships and undefeated regular seasons in 2018 and 2019. Additionally, Carey is a Killeen native, and has extensive recruiting ties in the Central Texas area. Leave not doubt about it — although Carey has the title of co-offensive coordinator, the revival of the Texans rushing game has his signature all over it, and he could likely do the same for Texas.
Stephen Lee is the offensive coordinator just up the road in Belton at UMHB. Since becoming the offensive coordinator for the Crusaders, Lee has been a part of a coaching staff that has gone 56-1, while winning the Division III Championship in 2016 and 2018. Their only loss came in the championship game in 2017, in which the Crusaders finished at the runners-up.
So far in 2019, Lee’s Crusaders are averaging 51.3 points per game. Additionally, from 2016-2018, Lee’s offense averaged 45.3 points per game. Lee prefers a run-first offense, using a variety of jet sweep motions to set up the inside and outside run games in addition to quarterback reads and designed quarterback runs.
Although he has heavily relied on the run during his time at UMHB, Lee also understands how to move the ball via the passing game. Prior to joining the Crusaders, Lee was the offensive coordinator at West Texas A&M, where he set a Division II record for passing yards in 2013, while leading the nation in passing touchdowns.
Lee’s biggest upside is his ability to recruit and develop talent, which is a necessity, especially at the Division III level, where finding the hidden jewels of high school football talent is a necessity.