Major Applewhite becomes Texas’ playcaller after Bryan Harsin named Arkansas State’s head coach while Larry Porter hired to be Longhorns’ running backs coach


Elisabeth Dillon

Major Applewhite, who recently took over the playcalling responsibilities, looks onto the field of a previous Texas game. 

Christian Corona

When Bryan Harsin was named Texas’ co-offensive coordinator and given play-calling responsibilities in 2011, Mack Brown knew who Harsin’s successor would be.

“I told Major [Applewhite], ‘You need to put yourself in a position as the play-caller every day, because that day is going to come fast, and when it comes, you need to be ready’,” Brown said.

Sure enough, when Harsin got his first career head coaching gig at Arkansas State last month, it was Applewhite who immediately took over his duties as the team’s play-caller and quarterbacks coach. In his first game in his new role, Applewhite’s Longhorns offense stalled in the first quarter of the Valero Alamo Bowl against Oregon State on Dec. 29. But Texas scored touchdowns on each of its final drives, overcoming a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Beavers, 31-27.

“It’s not about the X’s and O’s, it’s really just about the culture of our program and demanding more of our guys,” Applewhite said after the Alamo Bowl victory. “Tonight, the way we needed to win the game was to spread them out, throw it, clear some loose lanes for the quarterback to run the ball and be effective.

Applewhite previously served as Texas’ running back coach, leaving a vacancy in the Longhorns coaching staff. It was filled by Larry Porter, who coached running backs at Oklahoma State, LSU and, most recently, Arizona State.

He went 3-21 in the 2010 amd 2011 seasons as the head coach at Memphis and will be working with a talented Texas backfield that includes Johnathan Gray, Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron.

“We are very excited to have Larry Porter joining our staff,” Brown said. “During his time at Oklahoma State and LSU, he did a tremendous job recruiting Dallas and Houston. He has also worked with two of our current coaches in [defensive tackles coach] Bo Davis and [offensive line coach] Stacy Searels in previous positions and has been friends with [wide receivers coach] Darrell Wyatt for a number of years.

“I’m just really excited to be joining what I think is the best program in the country,” Porter said. “Having the opportunity to work under a man like Coach Brown, who I look at as a legend in college football, is an honor and a privilege. He has done so much for college football and is so well respected.”

In the Longhorns’ nine wins this past season, they averaged 203.9 rushing yards per game and averaged 5 yards per carry. In their four losses, they ran for 98.5 yards per game and averaged only 3.1 yards per carry.

Harsin heads to an Arkansas State program that has seen each of its last two head coaches hired by SEC squads.

Hugh Freeze, who went 6-6 in his first season as the head coach at Ole Miss this year, was the Red Wolves’ head coach in 2011 while Guz Malzahn was named Auburn’s head coach last month after leading Arkansas State to a Sun Belt title last year.

“He’s a bright young coach with great enthusiasm and passion for the kids and the game. He’ll do a tremendous job at Arkansas State,” Mack Brown said of Harsin. “He feels like it is a great situation for him. We’re happy any time our coaches have the opportunity to be a head coach. I think that is a great reflection of the types of coaches we are fortunate enough to have in our program.”

Among the other coaching changes made include Wyatt being promoted to co-offensive coordinator, making him the first African-American coordinator in Texas history. Offensive line coach Stacy Searels was promoted to assistant head coach for offense and tight end coach Bruce Chambers now handles the primary recruiting coordinator duties, which he previously shared with Wyatt.

Published on January 14, 2013 as "Applewhite takes over play-calling".