The day is finally here, Longhorns fans: Texas’ newest offensive coordinator, Sterlin Gilbert, made his debut to the media in his first press conference Monday.
The timeline leading up to today’s event was certainly eventful. Some might say it played out more like an ’80s romantic comedy about a teenager making a grand gesture to win a love interest’s heart. Here are 5 things to know about Gilbert’s wild ride on the way to Texas:
- Sonny Cumbie rejected Texas’ offer
You never forget your first heartbreak. Texas had its heart set on Sonny Cumbie, the co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at TCU. Cumbie reportedly visited Texas and talked to head coach Charlie Strong but did not strike a deal. Cumbie’s deliberation about taking the position was seen as nothing out of the ordinary, but Gilbert’s name dropped into conversation as a possible back-up in case Cumbie pulled out. Once Cumbie looked out of reach, all eyes shifted to the next guy on the list. With a text message to the American-Statesman staff (told you this was like a teen movie) and an official statement through TCU’s media relations, Cumbie decided to stay.
- Texas remained optimistic in its pursuit of Gilbert
Coach Strong regrouped after getting rejected and arranged to meet Gilbert, the co-offensive coordinator at Tulsa as well as a former coach for Texas high school and Bowling Green, where he worked under Baylor’s Art Briles. Neither Cumbie nor Gilbert called plays full time at their respective schools, but that didn’t seem to matter. Just as Texas prepared a back-up to Cumbie, one report dropped California’s Tony Franklin as the next candidate. That possibility was short-lived as Gilbert reportedly agree to the position at Texas. With Texas’ losing season, which included three play-callers, the firing of two assistant coaches and the worst statistical defense in school history, there was a lot riding on this decision. Looking back on a video interview at Bowling Green, Gilbert said “the sky’s the limit” in regard to a quarterback’s potential in his offensive system.
- Early reports turned out to be wrong
Despite the reports of Gilbert accepting the position, the next day the Statesman confirmed he declined Texas’ offer. The reaction was swift and ranged from support from university President Greg Fenves to fans renouncing their allegiance to the Longhorns. It was reported Texas administrators could not guarantee coach Strong would last past 2016.
- Texas rounded up a team for an emergency flight
Even though Texas had reportedly interviewed Cal’s Franklin as Gilbert’s backup, California made its own power move and pushed more money to its team to retain Franklin. Texas’ Strong, Fenves and men’s athletic director Mike Perrin banded together as a Longhorn A-Team and flew to Tulsa to get Gilbert to change his mind. Gilbert ultimately decided to re-commit to Texas and used colleague Matt Mattox, the offensive line coach at Tulsa, as a bargaining chip. The school formally announced Gilbert as the new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach and Mattox as the offensive line coach on Saturday.
- Gilbert and Mattox seem to be a welcome change despite the comedic chaos during the pursuit
Shawn Watson and Joe Wickline were officially released from their offensive coaching positions after two seasons of mismatched styles. Gilbert and Mattox received three year contracts, of $850,000 and $550,000, respectively. Statesman columnist Cedric Golden described the big-guns team of Fenves, Perrin and Strong a flying circus: “[The national perception of Texas football] can change but only if the airport hires equate to instant success and help dispel the growing belief that Texas football is a program that’s literally flying by the seat of its pants.”Despite being Texas’ initial second choice, columnist Kirk Bohls offered a welcome to Austin to Gilbert, writing, “Glad to have you here at Chaos Central. We know drama. Winning football, not so much lately. But we all assume you’re going to fix that.”
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