College Sports

January 15, 2014

New coach Charlie Strong finalizes Texas staff

The new head coach brings in nine new faces — plus one holdover from Mack Brown’s staff — to reshape the Longhorns.

Texas coach Charlie Strong made it abundantly clear what his expectations are for the program under his watch — winning championships.

“When you’re the top program in the country, you have to be about championships,” Strong said. “We’ve been there. So it’s not hard for us to get back up there.”

Ten days after being named the Longhorns’ head football coach, Strong announced 10 members of his staff — nine newcomers and one retained from last year’s staff in tight ends coach Bruce Chambers. And Strong believes he has the assistants in place to put Texas back in the championship hunt.

“It’s a staff I’m really excited about. It’s a staff with a lot of energy and a staff I’m very familiar with,” Strong said. “We’re teachers. We’re role models. We’re going to motivate and lead.”

On the offensive side, Strong hired Joe Wickline to be his offensive line coach and offensive coordinator. Wickline was Oklahoma State’s offensive line coach for the last nine years.

Shawn Watson, who served as Louisville’s offensive coordinator under Strong for the last three years, will serve as quarterbacks coach at Texas, but Wickline will call plays.

“If you look across college football, there’s a lot of offensive line coaches that are coordinators,” Strong said. “Guys pay their dues. When guys have put in their time, you want to be rewarded. He’s being rewarded.”

Joining Watson and Wickline on the Texas offensive staff are running backs coach Tommie Robinson, who held the same role at USC, and wide receivers coach Les Koenning, a former Longhorns wide receiver who was previously Mississippi State’s offensive coordinator before coming to Texas.

“What I’d like to run is the spread, but the run game has to be involved,” Strong said. “If you can’t line up and run downhill and hit somebody in the mouth, you’re going to have issues.”

Koenning, who played at Texas from 1977-80, is one of two former Longhorns football players joining the staff. The other is defensive coordinator Vance Bedford, a fifth-round draft pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1982 after playing defensive back at Texas for four years. Bedford was in charge of a Louisville defense that led the nation in total defense last season, allowing only 251.5 yards per game.

“Vance is not only a good coach, but he is a good person,” Strong said. “He develops players. But then what he does a great job of is making sure he puts them in a position to be successful. That’s what you look for on defense, a guy that can disrupt an offense, which he does with pressure.”

Serving under Bedford on the defensive staff will be linebackers coach Brian Jean-Mary, who Strong also brought with him from Louisville and who was also named recruiting coordinator. Chris Rumph helped Alabama win back-to-back national titles in 2011 and 2012 as its defensive line coach before leaving to serve in the same position at Texas.

Chris Vaughn was named defensive backs coach, a position he previously held at Memphis, and special teams coordinator. The fourth and final member of last year’s Louisville coaching staff who officially joined Texas was strength and conditioning coach Pat Moorer.

“Pat is an outstanding strength coach,” Strong said. “Some of our linemen need to get a little bigger and some of the skill guys. Pat will get the program going. The only thing we need to do is continue to build the program.”

Despite Texas tight ends struggling recently, Chambers was the only member of the Mack Brown-led Longhorns staff who was retained by Strong, who expressed confidence in Chambers to do a top-notch job.

“He’s someone that’s familiar with this state and recruiting this area,” Strong said. “It’s great to have him, someone that’s knowledgeable as he is and who can get the job done.”

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