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Bryan Harsin’s Departure Raises Pressing Questions For Texas Longhorns

Michael Johnson- USA TODAY SPORTS

With the pending announcement this afternoon of Bryan Harsin– the former Texas Longhorns offensive coordinator– as the new head coach of the Arkansas Red Wolves, there’s been an interesting ripple effect on the Forty Acres which raises a ton of new, and not-so-new questions concerning the health of the program.

It’s being assumed that Harsin’s co-offensive coordinator during the 2012 season, former Texas QB star Major Applewhite, will obtain primary play-calling duties and coach the quarterbacks, giving up his role as running backs coach. Joining Applewhite for the 2012-2013 season as a co-coordinator will be wide receivers coach Darrell Wyatt.

Harsin’s departure, and the decision to once again pair Applewhite with another former positional coach, smacks of a lack of confidence in Applewhite, one, and also the notion that maybe Texas has become another stepping stone program for high-level coordinators to pad the resume on their way to greener pastures.

In the past seven years, Texas has lost Will Muschamp, Gene Chizik and, now, Bryan Harsin as coordinators to other Division I programs. While this type of movement isn’t necessarily out of the ordinary, the fact that Muschamp and Harsin used the Texas program to launch their respective careers without any desire to stay on the Forty Acres should be concerning for Texas.

Why did Bryan Harsin leave?

Is Arkansas State really that great of an opportunity?  Sure, they have some short-term clout, given their most recent head coach Gus Malzahn has been named the new head man of the Auburn Tigers, but why is now the right time for Harsin to make the jump when Texas, on paper, awaits one of its best recruiting classes in years in 2013?

Was Mack Brown meddling in Harsin’s duties a little too much for his taste? This is the subtext that hasn’t been spoken of, but you can rest assured it will be in coming days.

With Harsin history, the attention turns to the future of Texas’ golden boy, Major Applewhite. By almost all accounts, Major is ready to take the reins of the Texas offense and should be given an opportunity to stand alone in an offensive coordinator’s role and be given the chance to show what he can do.

For whatever reason, which is still well beyond me, it appears Darrell Wyatt will share his duties again. It’s difficult for Texas fans to wrap their heads around why the administration– or Mack Brown, whomever is implicit, here– continues to want to bubble-wrap Applewhite and give him a binky, instead of giving him the opportunity to do what he has done before.

If Major Applewhite had never been an offensive coordinator at the Division I level, Texas’ hesitation to hand him the keys to a sputtering machine would be understandable, but he has, with previous stints at both Alabama and Rice. The experience is there.

What is confounding is Texas’ confidence, is not.

Another faction in this debate will quote the following:  “Major Applewhite will always be at Texas, there’s no reason to rush things.”

False, false, false.

The notion of loyalty is antiquated and quaint, especially when it comes to the big-money of college football where a greater opportunity is but a few months away for those individuals who have generated the right amount of buzz-worthiness.

Maybe it’s time for Mack Brown, DeLoss Dodds, and the Texas athletic administration to take a long, hard look in the mirror.

Time’s waiting for no one, and opportunities will continue to have a magnetic pull away from Austin for those who are earning them right under Bevo’s nose.

Kris Hughes is the College Football Network Manager for Rant Sports and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. You can follow him on Twitter or check out his Facebook page. Kris is the host of Rant Sports Radio on the Blog Talk Radio Network Wednesday evenings at 8 Central Time.