An all-out blitz from Texas leaders apparently paid off. Tulsa offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert will be the new offensive coordinator for the Texas Longhorns. He will not be alone either, as offensive line coach Matt Mattox will be joining him to fill the same role at Texas.
Texas leaders went all out to make a sales pitch to Gilbert so convincing it would lure him away from Tulsa. In addition to head coach Charlie Strong, Texas sent athletics director Mike Perrin and university president Greg Fenves to do the talking, likely in a show of support for Strong as the head coach of the embattled Longhorns for the foreseeable future. Gilbert accepted an offer to join Strong’s staff with a three-year contract paying $850,000 per year.
Texas has also announced Shawn Watson and Joe Wickline will not return to the Longhorns program in 2016 as Strong continues to make staff changes in hopes of turning a corner before it is too late.
So now the work begins on getting Texas to play some offense. In the Big 12, offense is essential, and Texas has been left behind. With Gilbert on board, the hope is Texas will see a quick turnaround, and if possible see the kind of instant impact Oklahoma saw with an offensive coordinator change this past offseason (of course, Texas beat Oklahoma, but you get the idea). Texas will play some good defense, but with programs like Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech lighting up the scoreboard in conference play, the Longhorns are in big need of some quick offensive results.
If you thought the Texas story regarding Tulsa offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert was done, think again. Reports Friday surfaced saying Texas is still going all in on trying to lure Gilbert to Austin. The measures have gone so far as to fly the university president to Tulsa to make a sales pitch.
On Friday, University of Texas president Greg Fenves tweeted his show of support for Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong on his Twitter account.
Not too long after that, reports started spreading that Fenves was en route to Tulsa to try and convince Gilbert to leave the Tulsa program and join the Texas coaching staff. The thinking was having the university president make the sales pitch would show the job security Strong has as head coach of the struggling Longhorns program. Joining Fenves on the recruiting trip was Strong and Texas Athletics Director Mike Perrin. This is an all-out blitz to secure Tulsa’s offensive coordinator, who may or may not have already turned down an offer. You don’t fly in the head coach, athletics director and president and return empty-handed. This is clearly the top target for the Longhorns, and they are working every possible angle to make it happen.
But what if it doesn’t work?
This could be bad for Texas. Forget about the confusion in the reporting leading up to this latest sequence of events. If Texas goes all in for Gilbert and comes away without him, that is a bad look. That doesn’t mean Texas will fail in this process though. If Gilbert does not come to Texas, there is still a chance a good hire can be made. That all must be determined later on though. Until then, the Texas football program faces a tough battle and recruiting rivals are surely going to take notice and use this to their advantage as much as possible.
If you need another reminder just how the mighty Texas Longhorns have fallen, here it is. Six years removed from playing for a BCS national championship, Texas is now struggling to fill a vacancy at offensive coordinator after having Sterlin Gilbert of Tulsa choosing to stay put at Tulsa. This is a stark contrast to some original reports suggesting Gilbert was as good as done to be the new offensive coordinator at Texas just one day ago.
To continue the theme of some confusion regarding the situation, there are conflicting reports about whether or not Gilbert was even offered the job. College Football Talk contributor Zach Barnett reported via Football Scoop no offer was extended to Gilbert from Texas through Friday morning, which means there was no way Gilbert could have accepted or turned down an offer. Brian Davis of Austin American-Statesman drew his line in the sand over this story, saying there was a job offer in place, which was also reported by Gerry Hamilton of ESPN.
Whatever the case may be with the hypothetical or real offer, Gilbert is set to return to Tulsa and that is good news for the Golden Hurricane and first-year head coach Philip Montgomery. For Tulsa, they can move forward selling the recruiting pitch their offensive coordinator chose to stay at Tulsa rather than go to Texas. You can bet they will use that.
Meanwhile, the search will continue at Texas to fill a key spot on the staff. Texas may also have missed out on hiring TCU’s Sonny Cumbie in part because of the perceived uncertainty of Charlie Strong and his future with the program.
This time of year proves there is much confusion out there, and it can be difficult to suggest what is real and what is not at times. But the perception of texas football suggests there is massive room for improvement. We all know that though. This much we also know; Texas needs to hit a home run with its offensive coordinator hire. If they miss on this one, Strong’s future may not survive too much longer.
Texas has found its new offensive coordinator. Tulsa co-offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert, per a report from Horns247, has been hired by the Longhorns to take on the responsibility of bringing back respectability to the Texas offense.
Gilbert is a Texas native who has had coaching stints at Bowling Green and Eastern Illinois. It was at Eastern Illinois Gilbert coached quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who would later be a second round draft pick of the New England Patriots. Gilbert joined the Tulsa staff this season after being on the Bowling Green coaching staff last season under Dino Babers, who has just been hired to be the head coach at Syracuse. At Tulsa, Gilbert helped coach a bit of a revitalized offense at Tulsa, using the passing game to his advantage.
The hiring of Gilbert could be the first of many staff changes focusing on the offense at Texas. The Longhorns have struggled offensively for a few years now, and with head coach Charlie Strong criticized for the struggles as much as anyone could be, he needs to make some changes happen to try and steer things the other way in Austin before it is too late.
UPDATE: Well, it turns out this may not actually be as done deal as originally reported.