Coaching change first of its kind for Mack Brown

Garrett Callahan

This week, Mack Brown has done something he has never done in his 16 years at Texas—make a coaching change mid-season.

It has happened around college football for the past few years and happens from time to time in the NFL, but under Brown, Texas has never made such a drastic change to its coaching staff like it did when it brought in Greg Robinson as the new defensive coordinator this week.

“Never done this before,” Brown said. “Obviously I’ve changed coordinators at the end of the year on both sides of the ball. Never done it during the season.”

The last time the Longhorns switched up coaches was after their 2010 season where they went 5-7, the first losing season under Brown. The coach revamped his whole coaching staff, a move that brought in now offensive coordinator Major Applewhite and now-demoted Manny Diaz.

Coaching changes, especially mid-season, will either fail for a team or benefit them. The team won’t stay the same. 

After starting the season 2-5, Georgia Tech fired its defensive coordinator Al Groh last season. Under the new interim play-caller, the Yellow Jackets went 4-2 and even made an appearance in the ACC Championship game. Georgia Tech was able to clinch a spot in the Sun Bowl where it eventually lost to USC.

Many also know the story of the Baltimore Ravens, who relieved their offensive coordinator Cam Cameron of his duties and promoted Jim Caldwell in his place. That move obviously benefited the Ravens who went on to win the Super Bowl.

Decisions such as these aren’t easy to make, but most of the time they have to be done.

“It [this mid-season change] is a lot different,” Brown said. “But, like I said, I’ve made hard decisions and had to change some coaches before. It’s one of the things in this business that people don’t like. At the same time coaches across the country have to win. The message is you have to make decisions when things aren’t going well to get them fixed.”

Mid-season coaching changes bring an added issue, however. The coach has a week turnaround period to get his squad to where it needs to be. Texas had a total of four practices with Robinson before its first game with the new coach.

“You adjust to [mid-season changes],” senior Carrington Byndom said. “That’s the only thing you can do. We know [Robinson] is going to come in and may implement some of his stuff but you just have to adjust to it. There’s nothing we can do, but continue to play for whoever’s coaching.”

Texas had an advantage, however. Robinson has been with the team since July as an analyst and already has an established relationship with secondary coach Duane Akina, who he co-coordinated with back in 2004.

“It is easier because Duane and Greg [Robinson] have worked together and Greg has been doing nothing but studying us since July,” Brown said. “So this isn’t like bringing someone in from the outside as much as it is someone that I trust with knowledge of us that’s been watching us the last three years who has been studying us every day since he came onboard July the 1st.”