Most fans were sitting in their homes Sunday afternoon, trying to forget the embarrassing shellacking Texas suffered the previous night against BYU, when it was announced Manny Diaz had been relieved of his duties as defensive coordinator.
Then entered Greg Robinson, a veteran coach with 36 years of experience with seasons ranging from Super Bowl wins to barely any wins. Robinson takes over Diaz’s duties after Texas suffered its worst season defensively in 2012 and gave up the most yards in school history
“I think Greg has a track record that’s as good as anybody in this country,” head coach Mack Brown said. “The guy has won Super Bowls as a defensive coordinator, won Rose Bowls as a defensive coordinator. He’s a veteran. He’s a seasoned veteran. He’s confident. Kids gravitate to him. He just makes kids play better.”
Robinson started his coaching career as an assistant at the University of the Pacific in 1975. After stints at Cal State Fullerton, NC State and UCLA, Robinson moved onto the NFL where he became a defensive line coach for the New York Jets. In 1994, the veteran took his first job as a defensive coordinator.
In that first year as a defensive playcaller, the Jets went 6-10 and gave up an average of 18.4 points per game.
He bounced back from that disappointing season, winning two Super Bowl rings with the Denver Broncos. Robinson in 1997 and 1998. They only lost six games those two years, including a 14-2 record in 1998, which remains a franchise record.
After a two-year stretch with Kansas City, Robinson moved to Texas and became the new defensive coordinator for the Longhorns.
Texas fans remember Robinson’s lone season in Austin for the Rose Bowl the team won with his defense. Robinson finished the season Top 25 nationally in scoring defense, rushing defense and total defense. His unit gave up only 3.2 yards per carry.
“Greg’s a true veteran,” Brown said. “He makes great adjustments. When he was here before we tackled very well. We chased the ball. We were very sound fundamentally. He’s a guy kids love to play for.”
One of Robinson’s biggest features is halftime adjustment, which Texas has lacked these past two seasons. During their 2004 season, the Longhorns outscored their opponents 105-3 in the second half.
After Texas, however, Robinson’s impressive statistics started to dwindle. As the head coach for Syracuse, he went 10-37 through four seasons, the worst for the Orangemen.
As the defensive coordinator for Michigan, Robinson once again struggled. In his first season, the defense finished 82nd in the nation while in his second season his squad ranked last in the conference in total passing, scoring defense and total defense.
Mack Brown tried his best to excuse Robinson’s past troubles.
“They [Michigan] had really bad players and a bad team,” Brown said. “He came in and I think they made him change the defense to something he didn’t believe in. I’m going to let him get back to what he knows.”
The Longhorns have given Robinson a second chance. In July, he returned to Texas to be a football analyst for the team. He worked out of his Los Angeles home to review film, collect data and help the team make adjustments when needed.
Now he’s back to his old coaching ways. When asked if he’ll turn things around for this team, Mack Brown said it simply.
“I think so,” Brown said. “Or I wouldn’t have brought him back.”