Co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin and defensive coordinator Manny Diaz now understand what it’s like to be both criticized and admired by Texas fans.
Both sit at 13-7 as Texas coaches. But people’s sentiments towards them are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Mack Brown can certainly sympathize.
“Last year people wanted Manny to have my job,” Brown said. “This year they’re mad at Manny. Last year they thought I hired the wrong guy in Bryan. Now they’re wanting autographs and pictures.”
Even though the pair’s situations have changed, neither are changing their demeanor or the way they coach.
As the Longhorns were walking off the field after their last-minute win over Oklahoma State, Harsin hugged or high-fived each player that passed by him heading to the locker room. Maybe it’s because he sits in the booth, but it was a surprising sight.
“If I could say one thing about coach Harsin, it’s that he’s passionate,” offensive lineman Luke Poehlmann said. “It’s kind of inspiring to see that as a player because it feels like it bleeds into our offense. All the players can see how much he cares about it and how hard he works to get us prepared. He’s a great coach.”
Poehlmann said he loves playing for Harsin because of his creativity. Though he hasn’t changed, he’s grown with the team and gotten to know the players better.
“Coach Harsin is really consistent,” offensive lineman Mason Walters said. “Win, lose or draw, he always brings that same mentality the next day of ‘Hey, we’ve got to get better’ ... It’s always about growing and it’s never about staying the same with Coach Harsin.”
Perhaps Harsin’s most important steps this year have come with David Ash. The quarterback has made significant strides and has controlled the offense very well. The Longhorns are fourth in scoring offense in the Big 12 and have stood their ground in shootouts against Oklahoma State, West Virginia and Baylor.
Last year, Diaz’s defense was sixth nationally in rushing defense and eleventh in total defense. Now the Longhorns are at the bottom, eighth in total defense in the Big 12 and 107th in the country. Diaz refuses to change what he’s doing.
“All it’s about is your persistence as a teacher,” Diaz said. “How can a scheme all of a sudden not be able to stop a run? Or how can a scheme not be able to stop a pass or do whatever? What it comes down to is your teaching.”
Said senior safety Kenny Vaccaro, “It worked last year, why shouldn’t it work now? I think we have talented players across the board. It’s not coach Diaz’s fault.”
Harsin and Diaz are taking on some of the highest expectations in the country. One is meeting them, one is falling way short. At Texas, it comes with the territory.
Printed on Friday, October 26, 2012 as: Diaz, Harsin stick to guns