Strong’s coaching staff almost finalized after a week of hires

Garrett Callahan

It hasn’t been long since Charlie Strong arrived in Austin, but he has yet to waste any time making his own mark on the Texas coaching staff.

Strong, who was officially announced as Texas’ newest head coach on Jan. 6, has already begun to piece together his staff with multiple hires made this week. The biggest of these moves came as Vance Bedford was hired as defensive coordinator last Friday.

Bedford, who is following Strong from Louisville, is Strong’s biggest tie to the state of Texas. Bedford attended UT and was a defensive back for the Longhorns in the late ‘70s into the early ‘80s, where he served as the defensive captain.

Strong and Bedford have been together since 2008, where they were both on the defensive staff at Florida. The duo led a resilient defense with the Cardinals, including a No. 1 finish in total defense in 2013. Bedford’s connection to Texas will be useful to Strong as he tries to regain the Longhorns’ recruiting prestige in-state. 

At the same time as Bedford’s hire, Strong brought linebacker coach Brian Jean-Mary to Texas from the same position at Louisville.

Also on the defensive side of the ball, Strong dismissed longtime defensive back coach Duane Akina from his position. Chris Vaughn will replace Akina, who has spent 12 years with Texas. Vaughn will coach the secondary after coming from Memphis, where he spent the past two season as the cornerbacks coach.

Nearly completing the defensive staff will be Chris Rumph, who will coach the defensive line. Rumph spent the last three seasons at Alabama, holding the same role and helped lead the Crimson Tide to back-to-back national championships in 2011 and 2012. Rumph replaces Bo Davis, who also came from Alabama before spending the last three years at Texas.

Strong has yet to finalize his offensive staff, but many positions are starting to get filled. Shawn Watson, who was Louisville’s offensive coordinator under Strong, will become the quarterbacks coach at Texas. As Louisville’s offensive play-caller, Watson coached Cardinals’ quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to a potential No. 1 pick in the upcoming NFL draft.

In addition, Tommie Robinson will replace Larry Porter as the running backs coach. Robinson served the same role with the Arizona Cardinals for three seasons before spending the last year at USC.

While Strong has yet to find an offensive coordinator, Oklahoma State’s Joe Wickline will reportedly be the next offensive line coach. Wickline, who was also targeted by Texas during the coaching changes in 2011, has been known to develop athletes into NFL players and has been one of the best in doing so.

Tight ends coach Bruce Chambers appears to be the only Texas assistant to be recalled from Mack Brown’s staff. Pat Moorer, who follows Strong from Louisville, will replace former strength and condition coach Bennie Wylie, who left the program last week.

Although Strong has yet to make any of these hires official, he has already begun to make his own mark on Texas and will most likely be making that mark even bigger in the weeks to come.