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Reports: Texas won’t retain Craig Naivar

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The co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach stepped up in the Alamo Bowl and recruited well, but coaches the same position group as the new defensive coordinator.

Maryland v Texas Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

After the Alamo Bowl victory over the Utah Utes, Texas Longhorns interim defensive coordinator Craig Naivar called it his “job interview.”

Unfortunately for Naivar, it appears that giving up 11 points and 254 total yards to the Utes wasn’t enough to earn a spot on new defensive coordinator Chris Ash’s staff, according to a report on Wednesday from Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman. Anwar Richardson of Orangebloods confirmed the news shortly thereafter.

As noted by Joe Cook of Inside Texas, Naivar has removed all mentions of Texas from his Twitter bio. Naivar told the Statesman’s Kirk Bohls that he didn’t interview with Ash, but expects to know about his next job in the near future.

Naivar spent three seasons as the safeties coach, serving as the special teams coordinator for his first two years before assuming the role of co-defensive coordinator this season. When head coach Tom Herman dismissed defensive coordinator Todd Orlando after the regular season ended, Naivar became the interim defensive coordinator for the Alamo Bowl and earned wide-spread praise for his gameplan and in-game adjustments.

“Craig Naivar and that defensive staff did an unbelievable job getting these guys ready for what they were about to face,” Herman said during the post-game press conference.

As the safeties coach, Naivar helped develop DeShon Elliott into a Thorpe Award finalist in 2017 and Caden Sterns into a freshman All-American and Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year in 2018, but the group took a collective step back in 2019, largely due to injuries.

And the central tension with retaining Naivar following the hire of Ash in December was always about the fact that the two coach the same position, so even though Ash isn’t yet officially the safeties coach, he’s spent his entire career coaching safeties or the entire secondary.

Naivar did serve as a defensive line coach at several stops, including at Kentucky in 2014 before joining Herman at Houston, but since he’s a former safety and quarterback from his high school days, it was always unlikely that he would be retained in that role.

He’ll leave a talented room for Ash, as he recruited extremely well at Texas, landing consensus five-star prospects Caden Sterns and BJ Foster, while adding high-upside players to that group, including DeMarvion Overshown, Tyler Owens, and Chris Adimora, as well as 2020 signees Xavion Alford and Jerrin Thompson.