As important as the first staff was for Texas Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong, admitting on Wednesday that he was wrong about two of his hires -- 40% of his whole offensive staff -- has created much more pressure on Strong now to get the next two hires right.
So the Longhorns began the national search to replace longtime tight ends coach Bruce Chambers and short-time wide receivers coach Les Koenning on December 31.
There's not a lot of staff flexibility on the offensive side of the ball -- Shawn Watson will remain as the assistant head coach for the offense/quarterbacks coach, offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Joe Wickline will remain in those dual positions, and running backs coach Tommie Robinson hasn't coached a position other than running back since the 2005 season when he was at Georgia Tech.
Since Robinson is unlikely to move to wide receivers coach, the position he coached for the Yellow Jackets, Texas will almost certainly be hiring a wide receivers coach and a tight ends coach.
One potential factor to consider is if there may be reticence on the part of coaches to join a staff that just unloaded two position coaches after one season, a sign that Strong expects success quickly or will make changes.
With a strong recruiting class coming together and some positive late-season developments before the final two games, this is far from the toxic situation that may have kept former head coach Mack Brown from effectively replacing defensive coordinator Manny Diaz before the 2013 season, so while it may not be as easy as last year, there shouldn't be many candidates turning down the opportunity.
Here are some early names to know:
Tony Levine, former Houston head coach -- Coming off of an unsuccessful head stint as the replacement for Kevin Sumlin, Levine may have to take a step back to a role as a position coach and at least one Texas writer thinks it's a great fit for Texas:
Tony Levine to Texas makes perfect sense. TE/ST's background. Knows Houston well as we near a cycle where there's a lot of talent in the H.— EricInsideTexas (@EricNahlin) December 31, 2014
There should be some interest from the Longhorns simply because of the recruiting connections and the special teams background, which could be extremely important in at least one of the hires because there were so many issues there in the first year with defensive backs coach Chris Vaughn in that position.
The problem? Levine can point to his success under Sumlin as a reason why he should have a bit more control somewhere than merely coaching tight ends and special teams, perhaps a title as an offensive head coach for the offense or run game/passing game coordinator somewhere. At the same time, he's never been a coordinator before and he didn't acquit himself especially well as a head coach, so he's probably going to be working back up from a position coach role now and Texas is a pretty prestigious place to do that.
Jay Boulware, Oklahoma tight ends coach/special teams coordinator -- Boulware is one of the coaches who was mentioned in the 247Sports report that broke the news of Chambers and Koenning getting the boot.
The background at the position level for Boulware is similar to that of Levine. From Irving, Boulware was an offensive tackle at Texas for two years before a heart condition ended his playing career. After working as a graduate assistant for three seasons, he moved on to Northern Illinois and has made a variety of other stops before leaving Auburn for Oklahoma in 2013.
He was able to land safety Kahlil Haughton recently out of Waco Midway when Haughton decided that he wanted to get out of the Waco area, but other than that, Boulware hasn't had a great deal of success recruiting in the state of Texas -- his best get at Oklahoma was probably wide receiver Dallis Todd in the 2014 class.
So are his recruiting chops strong enough to make a difference in the Dallas area for the Longhorns?
Derek Lewis, Florida tight ends coach -- Lewis has ties to Texas like Boulware since he played for the Longhorns and was another name in the 247Sports report. From New Orleans, he played four seasons at tight end for Texas and was All-Big 12 by the coaches in 1998 before spending some time with the St. Louis Rams.
Lewis returned to Austin as a graduate assistant in 2005 and 2006 before joining Tim Brewster's staff in Minnesota, where had responsibility for special teams. After Brewster lost his job in 2010, Lewis landed with Will Muschamp at Florida. Since new head coach Jim McElwaim may well bring in much of his own staff, Lewis could be looking for a job after the Gators finish the season on Saturday.
While in Gainesville, he's landed a handful of Texas guys, but has experienced much of his success in Louisiana in securing a signature from five-star defensive tackle Gerald Willis in 2014 and a commitment from four-star athlete Derrick Dillon in 2015. He was also the secondary recruiter for 2015 No. 1 cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III.
Based on limited success in the Houston area, could he reasonably be expected to help secure the city at a time when the Aggies have become the dominant power in the talent-rich region?
Ron Dugans, South Florida wide receivers coach -- A productive Florida State receiver who spent some time in the NFL at the position, Dugans has ties to the current staff because he spent four seasons as the wide receivers coach under Strong at Louisville.
He also has experience as a quarterbacks coach for three different schools, though that would obviously not be a particularly desirable skill set for the staff at this time.
Since most of the recruiting success for Dugans has come in Florida, the state that defensive backs coach Chris Vaughn seems to have on lock down, Dugans may not be a great fit as a guy asked to go into a metro area like Dallas or Houston and expect to have success.
The lack of experience recruiting Texas likely kept him from getting the job last year and will likely keep him from getting it again this year
Tim Brewster, Florida State tight ends coach/recruiting coordinator -- Brewster's name is one that was circulated by some Texas fans a year ago because of his ties to the school, but unless Strong decides to demote linebackers coach Brian Jean-Mary from recruiting coordinator, Brewster wouldn't get that particular position. And without it -- and the accompanied bump in pay it provides -- why would Brewster leave a more successful program other than just to make a move?
He also hasn't recruited in Houston nearly as much in recent years as he did while in Austin, so it's also not clear that his contacts there would be fresh enough to make a difference, though his reputation as a recruiter is impressive. For instance, he's the primary recruiter for five-star 2016 quarterback commit Malik Henry and led the recruitments of star 2014 recruits Dalvin Cook, the running back, and Ermon Lane, a wide receiver.
Darrell Wyatt, former Texas wide receivers coach -- When Strong took over, Wyatt seemed like the most likely staff member to stick around because of his recruiting success. Despite expressing some interest in remaining, Strong opted to retain Chambers instead, which ultimately cost the Longhorns a shot at star 2015 wide receiver Damarkus Lodge and a signature from raw deep threat Emnauel Porter, who ended up signing with TCU.
Wyatt has interviewed with Texas A&M for the vacancy there and could still take Lodge with him wherever he goes.
Keeping Wyatt and/or Lodge away from the Aggies isn't reason enough to hire him, but his overall recruiting success and adequate job as a position coach are reason enough. But would Strong be willing to truly admit that he made a mistake by not keeping Wyatt and would Wyatt forgive him for that mistake and return?