As Mack Brown’s future becomes less clear with each passing Saturday on the Forty Acres, it has become clear that he, and the Texas athletic administration will no longer ponder decisions about the future of the program, but will pull the trigger with impunity when the trigger needs to be pulled. After a demonstrative butt-whipping at the hands of the BYU Cougars in Week Two, 40-21, the Texas Longhorns have fired Defensive Coordinator Manny Diaz, and replaced him with a familiar face, former Defensive Coordinator Greg Robinson.
While it was reasonable enough to assume Diaz would be a scapegoat following Texas’ horrid defensive performance in Provo, but the swiftness, and interesting convenience tied to replacing Diaz with Robinson is confounding on a few different levels. As I wrote in Lindy’s In the Huddle- Texas Edition, Greg Robinson was nominally brought back to the Forty Acres after his most recent post as the Defensive Coordinator of the Michigan Wolverines to be a recruiting analyst, breaking down tape of potential defensive recruits within the state, and making the initial determination whether it would be worth the time of Director of Player Personnel Patrick Suddes and those with first-touch capabilities to pursue them.
The addition of Robinson in this capacity was tied to an implicit assumption he would not be a part of the Texas coaching staff at any time in the future and would be tied solely to evaluation responsibility. At the time, however, many began to wonder about the convenience of the hire, given not only the uncertain stability of Manny Diaz’s job after the struggles of the Texas defense in 2012, but also Robinson’s long-time working relationship, and friendship with Texas head coach Mack Brown.
It turns out those hunches had some validity.
The hire of Robinson to replace Manny Diaz has immediately been met with concern from those covering the Longhorns as well as fans familiar with Robinson’s struggles after leaving Texas in 2005 to become the head coach of the Syracuse Orange. The Orange limped to a 10-37 record (3-25 in Big East play) under Robinson, the lowest four-year span winning percentage in the history of the program.
With tucked tail, Robinson moved on to take over as the DC with Michigan for the 2009 season, subsequently fielding two of the worst units in the school’s history for the 2009 and 2010 seasons, and accordingly not doing much to improve his standing in the coaching world.
Now, in 2013, he’s back in a familiar place, once again in control of a Texas defense, however under much different circumstances than his 2004 stint which led to a National Championship.
It’s a move that will appease few apart from those fans who don’t see the bigger picture, but a move that had to be made by Mack Brown nonetheless in a continued, albeit perhaps ill-fated attempt to create a buffer for his own future on the Forty Acres.
In simplest terms, Manny Diaz was a Dead Man Walking all along, who should have been fired before the season ever started to save everyone some face.
Regardless, Greg Robinson’s addition won’t mean too much to the 2013 Longhorns and is nothing more than a stop-gap measure to try and plug some holes before they become the Grand Canyon. A grand gesture with a result that will fall flat.