January 1, 2014

The TicketCity Locker Room

Q: (dhunt) - Let's say Jimbo Fisher is the coach, put together a realistic dream team coaching staff?

A: I think the most obvious answer would be to say that if you could simply transport his current FSU coaching staff to the 40 Acres, you'd be in pretty outstanding shape based on the way they have constructed the Seminoles program from top to bottom.

However, for the sake of making this fun and no simply cut and paste a link to the Florida State coaching staff page from the official FSU school site, I'll put together what I think would register as a very marquee coaching staff.

Offensive coordinator: Baylor offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery

Perhaps he's an impossible hire because he is a Briles guy through and through, but he's been the quarterbacks/running backs/offensive coordinator coach for Briles dating back to the Houston days.

Running backs coach: Notre Dame running backs coach Tony Alford

One of the best recruiting coaches in the county and currently the recruiting coordinator for Brian Kelly, Alford has experience inside the state of Texas after his days with the Irish and Iowa State.

Wide receivers coach: Chicago Bears wide receivers coach Mike Groh

Groh was an assistant under Nick Saban in 2011-12 and was the Rivals.com Recruiter of the Year last year after helping secure the commitment of… wait for it… A'Shawn Robinson. The emergence of Alshon Jeffery this year for the Bears as one of the best players at his position in the game occurred on his watch. You can send him anywhere as a recruiter and he can get it done. He's worth a million dollars a year. Seriously.

Offensive line: UCLA offensive line coach/run game coordinator Adrian Klemm

He's a rising star in the industry and one day might end up being a legit head coaching candidate. Klemm is considered a five-star recruiter that has experience in the state of Texas from his days at SMU. Honestly, Klemm should already have been at Texas. I'm not sure how Mack Brown let this guy get away to the left coast.

Tight ends: Florida State tight ends coach/recruiting coordinator Tim Brewster

Finally, the Brew returns to Austin, Texas! This one is a slam dunk if Fisher takes the job.

Defensive coordinator: Florida State defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt

This year's Broyles Award winner was rumored to be Nick Saban's target for a DC if he had ended up in Austin, but the fact that Saban is likely off the table doesn't mean that the Longhorns shouldn't target the guy that might be the best defensive coordinator in the country. At 47 years old, the Texas job would be a perfect platform for him to get the head coaching gig everyone in his position likely desires.

Defensive line: Auburn defensive line coach Rodney Garner

Speaking of guys that would need to be overwhelmed by dollars, Garner was an All-SEC player 25 years ago for the Tigers and is now the recruiting coordinator/defensive line coach for his alma mater. But, you want a dream team, right? This dude leaving Auburn for the Longhorns would shake the recruiting world in the SEC because this dude gets results.

Linebackers: Florida State defensive ends coach Sal Sunseri

A former All-America linebacker that has twice coached linebackers for Nick Saban (once at LSU and again at Alabama), Sunseri is coaching a different position at SU currently, but his addition would give the Longhorns an elite-level presence at a position that needs it.

Secondary: Ole Miss defensive backs coach Wesley McGriff

Another top-notch recruiter that has coached in a number of different spots in the last five years, but he used to be the ace recruiter on Art Briles' staff at Baylor and his chops as a coach are extremely strong. He was the lead recruiter last year for both Robert Nkemdiche and Laquuon Treadwell. I have friends in the industry that rave about him.

Special Teams: Florida State special teams coach Charles Kelly

Kelly was considered a special teams guru for Georgia Tech before taking over the units for Fisher at Florida State. Kelly could contribute all over the place on the defensive side of the ball, but give them man a half-million to get the third phase of the game on lockdown.

Q: (weenhorn) - How does Jimbo Fisher stack up against Sumlin as a recruiter? Does Fisher make a big enough splash to counter the aggy/SEC recruiting strategy?

A: Does Fisher create enough splash to offset what's taking place at A&M?

No.1. Fisher is playing in the national title game and has put together the best non-SEC team in America since Texas in 2005.
No.2: He has essentially rebuilt the FSU program from the ground up, and it's not just recruiting, but development where he excels in, a truly double dynamic combo.
No.3. Your overall recruiting is often as good as your recruiters. The Longhorns have recruited well on offense because their best recruiters on offense. Texas hasn't had a complete dynamic recruiting staff on both sides of the ball since 2010.
No.4: In a much more competitive part of the country, Florida State ranked 10th nationally in recruiting in 2013, 6th in 2012 and 2nd in 2011.
No.5. The A&M dominance in recruiting is overplayed.

Q: (Bleed'n) - What is your take on Patterson's train of thought regarding Rick and Augie? Obviously his plate is full currently looking for Mack's replacement but have you heard talk that he is looking for coaching changes there as well? Rick seems to have the capability to keep his job with a run this year with this young squad, however he is continually rebuilding a new team year after year with players leaving from graduations and NBA drafts. Augie hasn't recruited well and his teams as of late are having trouble generating runs.

Are there seeds in Patterson's head to replace them no matter what they do this year or has he given them a deadline to improve their programs before a change is made?

A: I think the only thing on his mind right now is football. Both Rick and Augie have huge seasons in front of them, but if both guys have big years, it will change the narrative of their situations. I think if Barnes finds a way to make the NCAA tournament with this team, he's going to keep his job.

If either or both fail to make the grade, I would imagine change will be something that Patterson will seriously contemplate.

Q: (T Town Horn) - All I hear is how rich UT is but often read about facility upgrades at other programs. Where does Texas rate facility wise with other programs and are there any plans for upgrades?

A: The problem with facility upgrades is that after a few years, they can feel very outdated because of the forever growing high stakes arms race that takes place in college football. When Mack Brown first arrived, there was a push for fresher resources and that took place, but all these years later I would rank the Longhorns among the middle of the pack in terms of state of the art facilities and from what I now of the Nick Saban interest in Texas, once of his major concerns about the job was the facilities and the way they compare to what he has at Alabama. The current indoor practice facility is not anything that I would consider impressive, at least not if you compare it to Lake Travis High School's indoor facility. Whoever the new coach is, he needs to make a push for more than just a fresh coat of paint.

Q: (Golfpr3145) - how many players do you think will transfer after all of this turnover settles down? Do you see the new coach going after a JUCO QB because of the uncertainty of the position at Texas or do you think they will grab one of the transfers from Florida State or one of the others that are rumored to be transferring? How soon after the bowl season do you see Texas announcing the name of the new coach?

A: The JUCO ranks look pretty bleak if you look through the Rivals.com database. The highest rated JUCO quarterback prospect on the Rivals board is three-star (5.5) Blake Kemp of Mesa C.C., who has zero reported offers at this point. The only high-level JUCO commitment at this point among all of the major BCS conferences is Riverside (Ca.) C.C's Skyler Howard, who is committed to West Virginia and also had offers from New Mexico State and Northern Colorado.

Finding a quarterback to infuse into the 2014 competition is going to take some creative work.

As for the date of the new coach… I think it happens in the next nine days… maybe earlier if it's Charlie Strong.

Q: (AlabamaLonghorn) - Are there any "diamonds in the rough" or perhaps any good / great "has-been" coaches that are getting any closed discussion air time? There are some older coaches out there that still have the energy for another go-round... and of course tons of unproven, at least in the public's eyes, coaches that are on ADs minds.

A: No.

Q: (boblianes) -Another year down the crapper. I've got several questions/comments.

I know Mack was responsible ultimately for all things football but how much of the lack of player development is on Mack and how much is on his assistants?

I think Greg Robinson had done a great job with what Manny left him considering the injuries. How are his player development skills? Of the head coach candidates most likely, which ones are most likely to bring the best assistants with them? Do you think that the potential Defensive Coordinator will be better that Robinson?

I don't know how much Mack influenced Major's play calling but some of it was just atrocious. I expect the biggest improvement to be on the offensive side and it can't come too soon. Do you agree?

A: The buck stops with Mack Brown. From recruiting to strength/conditioning to player development, the buck stops with one guy. For instance, I don't blame Bruce Chambers for the tight end troubles that have been ongoing for much of the last decade. I blame Mack Brown for not having higher standards and demands for his staff, allowing the same troubles in the program to exist for years and years. Do I need to point out Jeff Madden inexplicably still having any important role in the program?

As far as Robinson is concerned, he's among the best pure teachers that Mack has ever had on his staff. I remember watching his first practice with the team back in 2004 with a former Bill Parcells linebacker and he told me he could tell within five minutes that this guy was different than some of the other coaches that Mack entrusted to teach his players on his coaching staff.

As for the candidates that would bring the best coaching staff with him, just take a look back up to the dream team of assistants I just posted. Jimbo Fisher might have the best coaching staff in the country at the moment. Does that man he'll bring a better coach in than Robinson? I don't know for certain, but he'll bring someone in that is hungry for the 365-day grind of the job that includes being on the road in recruiting, a task Robinson is not great at.

Finally, yes, I expect the Texas offense to take massive strides now that former offensive coordinator Mack Brown is no longer around. I think the program will improve almost in every aspect, not just on the offensive side of the ball.

Q: (Qwanseeker) - You mentioned in a previous write up that UT should offer Harbaugh $8 million per year and $5 million per year for his staff. My theory is that these numbers should be reversed. Can you explore what kind of staff we could put together with a $5 million dollar coach and an $8 million dollar dream team staff? What are your thoughts on my theory?

A: I think money shouldn't be an option at Texas… ever. Whatever it costs to be elite, spend it. Having tremendous infrastructure is probably the best money that the program can spend because it directly impacts the ability to create more dollars via success on the field. The Longhorns made 20 million more than any other team in the country last season and they did with a disenfranchised fan base. Imagine what winning could do for the piggy bank….

Q: (dnworley) - I think the talk that Mack left the talent here at a worse place than he found it is wrong...there were certainly some very good players here when he got here, but, I'm willing to bet that more than 9 guys get drafted over the next 4 years than MB's 1st 4...I'm certainly not saying Mack's left this thing stacked, but, the overall talent is stronger...am I wrong on this?

A: You actually asked a question that I hoped someone would ask… the one centering on the talent that both Mackovic/Brown left behind following their exits as head coach.

Let's just go position by position and look at what once existed and what currently exists.

Quarterback (Push): On one hand, you had Richard Walton, Major Applewhite and Adam Dunn, while on the other hand you have whatever truly remains of David Ash, Tyrone Swoopes and Jerrod Heard. At the time of Brown's arrival, nothing was truly expected of Applewhite and most thought Walton would do a solid job before he was injured in the season-opener. I think a slight case can be made for both sides, so I'll call it a push.

Running back (Advantage Mackovic): Ricky Williams. Nothing else needs to be said.

Wide receiver (Advantage Mack): The Mackovic group included Wane McGarity and Kwame Cavil, so it really comes down to the fact that I think a group of Jaxon Shipley, Marcus Johnson and Kendall Sanders, along with all of the incoming players, gives Mack the edge. There's just a lot more depth.

Tight end (Advantage Mackovic): Derek Lewis is better than anything Texas has right now by a country mile.

Offensive line (Advantage Mackovic): Stacy Searels is making improvements, but the 1998 offensive line was probably the second best group that Mack has in Austin outside of the national championship group.

Defensive tackles (Advantage Mackovic): Malcom Brown is a standout and Desmond Jackson is a good player, but Mack arrived with Casey Hampton and Shaun Rogers ready to patrol things. I'm not sure I can remember much about the back-ups, but does it matter when you have two future NFL stars manning the middle?

Defensive ends (Advantage Mack): Cedric Reed and Aaron Humphrey are probably pushes, but the presence of Shiro Davis, Caleb Bluiett and Bryce Cottrell make me lean towards the current group because there wasn't anything at defensive end outside of Humphrey. He was pretty much a one-man gang.

Linebackers (Push) This one is a little scary when you look at it. Dusty Renfro, D.D. Lewis and Anthony Hicks were pretty much all Mackovic left behind, but they were all pretty good, especially Renfro and Lewis. Meanwhile, the unit Mack left behind includes Dalton Santos, Steve Edmond, Jordan Hicks, Peter Jinkens and several more young raw prospects. Am I being too generous to Mack's group?

Defensive backs (Advantage Mack) Mackovic didn't leave much depth, but he left behind a young group of players that included Quentin Jammer, Greg brown, Joe Walker and Donald McCowen. From the moment Mack arrived, Jammer was an elite-level piece in the secondary. While no player Mack leaves behind is better than Jammer, there's more depth behind with Quandre Diggs, Sheroid Evans, Mykkele Thompson, Josh Turner, Leroy Scott, Duke Thomas and Antwuan Davis.

Kicker/Punter: (Advantage Mackovic) If Anthony Fera were still around this would be a different conversation, but Kris Stockton was a heck of a college place-kicker.

Overall, there's no question that Mackovic left behind more difference-making players when you consider Mack had Ricky, Ricky Brown, Cavil, McGarity, that entire offensive line, Rogers, Hampton, A-Humphrey, Lewis, Renfro, Jammer and Stockton. How in the hell did Mackovic go 4-7?

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