After last year’s Texas Longhorns fielded their worst defense statistically in their program’s storied history, head coach Mack Brown took a big gamble in choosing to give defensive coordinator Manny Diaz another chance. Diaz had a solid first season at Texas, and things seemed to be improving somewhat towards the end of last season after a disastrous start. However, after a debacle of a performance against the Brigham Young University Cougars over the weekend in which the Longhorns defense allowed a school record for yards rushing, Brown was forced to make a change and it would be Diaz who was the sacrificial lamb.
On Sunday, the school announced that Diaz would be reassigned and that former Longhorn defensive coordinator, Greg Robinson who was hired by Texas as a consultant over the summer, would be taking over for the remainder of the season.
As upstanding a man as Diaz is, it’s hard to argue that it wasn’t time (more likely passed time) to make a change. If the Longhorns were to have any hope of salvaging the season, then they had to find a way to stop the bleeding. The question now is this: Is Greg Robinson the right man for the job?
When the announcement was first made, it was met with curiosity by many football fans. After all, his last two stops (as head coach of the Syracuse Orange and as defensive coordinator with the Michiagan Wolverines) didn’t exactly end well.
The Syracuse job doesn’t worry me; some men are made to be coordinators rather than head coaches. The Michigan job is a bit more worrisome, but to be fair, Robinson was out of his element being asked to run a defense that didn’t fit his strengths.
However, Robinson’s defenses at Texas were among the best under Mack Brown. His players were fundamentally sound (something that is lacking right now) and during his tenure in Austin, he proved that he knew how to stop high-powered offenses, including the Oklahoma Sooners (then led by Heisman winner Jason White) and the Texas Tech Red Raiders, who boasted the best offenses in the country at the time.
Additionally, Robinson is a great linebackers coach, an area in which the Longhorns desperately need to improve.
Are there concerns? Absolutely. The Big 12 fields arguably the best offenses in the country from top to bottom. Since Robinson’s time in Austin, those offenses have become even more high-powered and more wide-spread throughout the conference. Additionally, he’s not playing with his own players and a realist will tell you that it’s nearly impossible to turn things around during the season, no matter who you are.
Regardless, this may not have been the fans’ first choice, but it’s the only choice that could have been made at the present time. He was already on the staff as a consultant so he is familiar with the personnel and has already watched film to help prepare for upcoming games. Besides, who else are you going to bring in at this point?
Again, this isn’t going to magically turn things around for Texas; their problems extend far beyond defense. Nevertheless, a change needed to be made and this was the most logical one. In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this safety net wasn’t the reason Robinson was brought in during the off-season.
It may not be 2004 anymore and Robinson might not be one of the most sought after coaches in the business as he was then, but fans need to remember that this is a temporary solution, and considering the limited options the Horns have, he’s certainly the best man for the job. For now.