Current Texas Longhorns co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite is set to take over play calling duties for Texas’ new up-tempo offense in the 2013 season. Applewhite’s increased role is not surprising and much deserved, but there is one more thing that he deserves: to be the next head coach at Texas.
Applewhite is immensely loved by Longhorn nation and has been since he first showed up in burnt orange and made a name for himself by, among other things, digging Texas out of the holes that Chris Simms put them in. Every Texas fan remembers the near-comeback that Applewhite engineered in the 2001 Big 12 championship game. They also remember him bringing the ‘Horns back to win the Holiday Bowl that same year on the strength of a 473 yard, four touchdown performance in his final game as a UT player.
Applewhite returned to Texas as a graduate assistant from 2002-2004 before leaving for a one year stint as the QB coach for the Syracuse Orange. He followed that up with single year stays as the offensive coordinator for the Rice Owls and Alabama Crimson Tide before returning to the Longhorns staff in 2008 where he has been since, fulfilling various roles. He was elevated to co-offensive coordinator in 2011 and for all intents and purposes now controls the offensive side of the ball for Texas.
Applewhite first took over play calling duties for the Alamo Bowl this past December. During that game Applewhite could be seen up in the press box of the Alamodome with a giant dip in, engineering a brilliant performance by the Longhorn offense.
Texas was down 20-10 at half after a dominant first half from the Oregon State Beavers. The offense had been pushed around early on but Applewhite made adjustments, which his predecessors never bothered to do, and got Texas QB David Ash on the move. Ash ran his way to the first TD of the second half before Texas scored 14 unanswered points in the 4th quarter to seal the deal and get the 31-27 victory.
History lesson over; here is why Applewhite needs to take over when Mack Brown decides to step aside, and that is how it will happen. Brown won’t stop being the head coach of the Longhorns until he is damn good and ready to, but that is beside the point.
Applewhite understands Texas football. He has been a part of it as a player and coach for 12 of the past 15 years. He knows how important it is for Texas to not only win games but to win the Big 12 and compete for National Championships every year. Applewhite understands that for Texas’ season to be considered a success they have to beat, and preferably embarrass, the Oklahoma Sooners. One of the biggest negatives brought up about Brown is that he never seems to “get it” and that he brushes off losses, even ugly ones to hated rivals, too easily by saying that the team did their best. Applewhite won’t do that.
I firmly believe, and have for many years, that Applewhite should be the next head coach for the Longhorns. Furthermore I think that is what Brown wants to happen. The challenge will be keeping Applewhite in Austin long enough for Brown to be ready to part ways with his current job.
Mack will be around for at least four or five more seasons. If Texas lives up to their potential they can win the Big 12 at least two or three times and compete for a minimum of one National Championship in that time. Two or three more conference titles and one more crystal football should be enough for Brown to secure his legacy and move on, likely to a position within the UT athletics department, maybe even as Athletics Director.
However, if all of that happens then there will be a bevy of teams gunning to steal Major away from Texas. If the Texas offense has two big years in a row, which it easily could in Ash’s final seasons with the Longhorns, then Applewhite will have multiple head coaching offers from universities both big and small. Brown’s biggest challenge besides winning games and championships will be keeping Applewhite happy and at Texas long enough to step into his shoes and become the head coach.
Major Applewhite deserves and needs to be the next head coach of the Texas Longhorns, and Mack Brown needs to make sure he sticks around long enough to do so.
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