It was understood that with the arrival of Charlie Strong as the new football coach of the Texas Longhorns that there would be some casualties among the coaching ranks of Mack Brown’s former staff. Some of this turnover has happened as Strong appears poised to bring several of his staff along from his former job with the Louisville Cardinals, which could potentially include former Longhorn and Cardinals DC Vance Bedford.
Many Texas fans and those who follow the program, however, believed there was one man who would stem the tide and retain his job, due to legacy if nothing else. That guy? Long-time defensive backs coach and crafter of DBU, Duane Akina. Akina has been a fixture on the Forty Acres for the past 13 seasons — apart from a brief flirtation with the Arizona Wildcats during the turnover of 2008 — and is as recognized as anyone having to do with Texas football.
I could name all of the defensive backs whom he helped improve upon their arrival on campus, ultimately helping them to reach their peak — and for many, a chance to play in the NFL — but I won’t bore you with an extensive list. Let’s just say the “DBU” moniker which Texas earned over Akina’s tenure was earned for a reason.
For the best defensive backs in the state of Texas, in large part, Austin has been the coveted destination for over a decade. Akina’s tutelage, deep connections, and history of success were a primary reason for this. With Strong’s decision not to retain Akina on his staff for 2014 — in spite of with whom he is replaced — will leave a short-term ripple effect in Texas’ ability to grab the top athletes in the secondary, and keep other predators in state at an arm’s length.
In his introductory press conference, Strong noted that regaining traction in the recruiting battles in-state was a priority. Without Akina, this effort takes a noticeable, and demonstrable hit. It’s unreasonable to assume there isn’t a greater plan behind Strong’s decision, and a plan to fill the hole left by Akina’s absence, but you can rest assured that Texas fans will want to see instant results from whatever this plan may be.
For 13 years, Duane Akina was Texas football.
Going forward, someone else has some rather large shoes to fill.
Kris Hughes is a Senior Writer and the Hiring Manager for Rant Sports.