News broke early Sunday morning that Texas offensive coordinator Tim Beck, wide receiver coach/passing game coordinator Sam Mehringer, and defensive coordinator Todd Orlando have all been relieved of their duties. Inside receivers coach Corby Meekins will also be moved out of his position. Tom Herman will remain as head coach for the future time. After a 7-5 regular season, the Texas Longhorns will now have to find coaching staff replacements to get back on track to its winning football culture.
The tricky part of this evaluation is evaluating the current roster and recruits. Texas has recruited a lot of talent to fill a certain role in its offense. Texas runs a lot of RPOs and is a heavy zone-run scheme. Switching over to an “Air Raid” style of offense under a guy like Graham Harrell would be rather and difficult transition, especially considering Sam Ehlinger isn’t a fit in that style of offense either. Because of this, I’m not buying the Harrell rumors and will follow other options. Here are the names I would be considering and/or have heard connected to the Texas Longhorns as they seek to find coaching staff replacements.
Joe Brady, LSU passing game coordinator
Does Joe Brady actually leave LSU for Texas? It’s certainly possible if he wants to be an OC, and Texas can afford the money to tempt him to leave. His scheme would be a nice fit and would undoubtedly help Sam Ehlinger become a better passer next season. It sounds like Brady’s name is getting more significant offers from other prestigious programs, so Texas would have to pony up some serious cash to be in consideration.
Brian Hartline, Ohio State wide receivers coach
Hartline is certainly a wild card name for this spot. His rise to being an offensive coordinator may be a little quick, but his resume is incredibly impressive. What he has done with the Ohio State wide receivers while he’s been there has been phenomenal. He and Herman have the Ohio State connection between the two of them, and if Hartline tailors his scheme like Ryan Day has done with his at Ohio State, this could be a perfect match for Hartline and the Longhorns. Texas should jump at the opportunity to grab the young rising coach before it’s too late.
Rhett Lashlee, SMU offensive coordinator
Lashlee would not be a “splash” hire like Joe Brady would be, but Lashlee has a great resumé and has been leading the SMU offense to great new heights. He’s a Gus Malzahn protégé, whose scheme would mesh well with Ehlinger and their style of offensive line play. His biggest selling point? Turning Shane Buechele’s career around, something the Longhorns’ last offensive coordinator could not accomplish. This is probably my favorite coaching replacement hire outside of Brady that the Texas Longhorns could land.
Jeff Scott, Clemson co-offensive coordinator/WRs coach
This name isn’t a super likely option, but it’s a name that has begun to circulate around the rumor mill. Scott has done a tremendous job as Clemson co-OC but has really made his mark as their wide receivers coach. He has been Clemson’s WRs coach since 2008, and his case for any OC job includes players like Deandre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins, Mike Williams, Hunter Renfrow, Martavis Bryant, Tee Higgins, Justyn Ross, and Joseph Ngata. This would be a definite upgrade for Texas.
Keith Heckendorf, Arkansas State offensive coordinator/QBs coach
Heckendorf is another up-and-coming name amongst offensive coaches. He’s done a phenomenal job with the Red Wolves’ offense this season, leading them to the 13th-ranked passing offense (over Oklahoma, Texas, and Clemson) and has the leading receiver in college football in Omar Bayless. While he may be too pass-happy for Texas to consider, Heckendorf’s name is beginning to be in conversations with top-level programs.
Chad Morris, former Arkansas head coach
I’m surprised Morris’ name is popping up, considering his most recent stint at Arkansas, but Morris is an established coach that Herman could look for instead of hiring a less experienced coach. Morris has been coaching in Texas for almost his entire career, and as OC, his offenses performed well with efficiency. He could help recruit the Texas talent, which would go a long way in improving their team.
Good luck selling most defensive coordinators on taking over a team that is currently ranked 108th in total defense and plays in the Big 12. Truthfully, I think the Orlando fire was the wrong decision, but it’s clear that Texas needed someone to blame, and ranking 108th is pretty bad, no matter how talented a coach you are. Here are the names I would be considering and/or have heard as possible coaching staff replacements for Texas Longhorns on the defensie side of the ball.
Chris Ash, Texas analyst
This one seems almost too easy and makes a lot of sense, given Ash’s connections with Herman. Ash is a well-traveled and experienced defensive coach with stints at Iowa State, Wisconsin, and Ohio State. When Ash was Ohio State’s defensive coordinator before taking the Rutgers job, he had Ohio State at second in the nation in scoring defense, allowing an average of 14 points per game, and 10th in total defense, allowing just about 303.5 yards per game. They were also great against the pass, ranking 12th in the country in passing defense and were allowing an average of 176.2 pass yards per game. He’s now volunteering as an analyst for the program and feels like a mere shoo-in for the job.
Marcus Freeman, Cincinnati defensive coordinator
I’m really milking the Ohio State connections, but can you blame me with the tremendous success Ohio State has had? Freeman is a former Ohio State linebacker who has transitioned into the coaching ranks successfully. If Luke Fickell takes a job elsewhere, Freeman could surely follow him. On the other hand, could Texas sway him with a juicy offer? Cincinnati’s stats this season may not look impressive, but they’ve had a lot of turnover on that side of the ball. His stats from last season were phenomenal, ranking 11th in total defense, ninth in scoring defense, and 26th in passing defense. Even better, they ranked fifth in 3rd down defense. Cincinnati plays tough, disciplined, and physical, something Texas desperately needs.
Al Washington, Ohio State linebackers coach
You guessed it, another Ohio State guy. Washington joined the Ohio State coaching staff after leaving the Michigan Wolverines and has done a tremendous job coaching the Ohio State linebackers and turning them into a forceful unit. He developed linebacker Devin Bush, who was a first-round selection by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2019 NFL Draft. He brings well over a decade of experience coaching players and is in line to be a coordinator in the coming years.
Gerald Alexander, Cal secondary coach
I mentioned Alexander in my article for coaches to replace the Willie Taggart staff at Florida State, and I’m still a fan of Gerald Alexander. He has three players in the Cal secondary that all look like future NFL players in Ashtyn Davis, Camryn Bynum, and Jaylinn Hawkins. He’s a former player who has worked with Jimmy Lake from Washington, as well as Justin Wilcox and Tim DeRuyter.
Frank Okam, Baylor defensive line coach
Older Texas fans may remember Okam’s name from when he played there in the early 2000s. Okam was a two-time All-Big 12 player for the Longhorns in his collegiate career and was a part of the 2005 national championship squad. Okam is now Baylor’s defensive line coach, and after the Bears collected six sacks against the Longhorns this season, Herman got a taste of just how good Okam is at his job. He’s developed three NFL-caliber players on the Baylor defensive line this season and has the Bears ranked ninth in team sacks and 19th in team tackles for loss. A successful former alum could help endear fans as the search for coaching staff replacements for the Texas Longhorns takes shape.