Today's news about Texas' plans to install Will Muschamp as head coach once Mack Brown departs definitely caught Homerism off-guard. (The person probably most surprised by the announcement? Longhorn folk hero Major Applewhite.)
Like just about every other informed college football fan out there, I had assumed Muschamp had come to Austin as a rent-a-coach before who would bolt for head job in the offseason--probably somewhere in the southeast. After all, Muschamp played his college ball at Georgia and cut his coaching teeth in the SEC. The stars all seemed to be aligning when Tommy Bowden and Phil Fulmer were let go at Clemson and Tennessee, respectively. Not surprisingly, Muschamp's name surfaced quickly for both openings.
So, if Texas' athletic department badly wanted to retain Muschamp, they had reason to be concerned. From that perspective, this all makes sense. The $500,000 raise probably helped keep Muschamp on board, but this had to be a no-brainer for the defensive guru. With its fertile recruiting base and virtually unlimited resources, Texas may be the marquee job in college football today.
What doesn't make sense is the contention that Brown and Muschamp haven't set a timetable for the transfer of power. Brown's current contract runs through 2016, and he said today he is in no hurry to step down. Does that mean Muschamp agreed to this arrangement knowing he may not take over for eight years?
Assuming Muschamp is as hot of a commodity as he appears to be, it seems far-fetched that he'd turn down a big-money, long-term deal from a school like Tennessee for an eight-year apprenticeship. Homerism suspects 2009 will be Brown's last year as head coach before heading upstairs to an administrative position in UT's athletic department, as stipulated in his contract.
*One last note: This move is a bigger gamble for Texas than it seems. Texas probably could lure 95 percent of the top candidates around, including prospectives from the NFL, once Brown does call it quits. Instead of waiting for that day to come, though, the Longhorns are casting their lot with a 37-year-old defensive coordinator who has no head-coaching experience.
Brown's charismatic CEO-like approach has provided a pretty good model for running Texas football. It's tough to see Muschamp, known as a fiery workaholic, assuming that mantle when his time comes. You know what they say about fixing something that isn't broken.