Bryan Harsin saw firsthand Saturday what Texas fans expect the Longhorn offense to do against Oklahoma next fall. The Longhorns’ new co-offensive coordinator sat courtside with Major Applewhite as the Texas men’s basketball team pummeled the Sooners in the Frank Erwin Center.
It will be Harsin and Applewhite’s responsibility to duplicate those results on the football field in 2011.
“I know our expectations here,” Harsin said in a press conference last week. “We have a championship program. We have a championship head coach, and it’s my job to help put together a championship offense.”
Harsin will also serve as the Longhorns’ quarterbacks coach, replacing Greg Davis, who resigned early last month after 13 seasons at Texas. Harsin and Applewhite, who was promoted to co-offensive coordinator, will work together to develop an offensive game plan, with Harsin handling the play-calling duties.
“As a coordinator, there are times when you need help and times when you don’t need help,” Applewhite said before introducing Harsin last week. “I understand that role, and so I want to help Bryan in installing this offense and whatever we need to do to just simply win games and do what is best for us here at Texas.”
Harsin arrived in Austin after coaching for 10 years at Boise State. He spent the previous five seasons as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Broncos and was a finalist for the Broyles Award in 2009, which is given to the nation’s top assistant coach.
The Broncos had one of the most prolific offenses in the country the past several years, consistently ranking among the best in major statistical categories. Their offense, primarily fueled by the passing game, helped them to BCS bowl wins in 2007 and 2010.
Harsin brings a multiple-style offense that’s different from the spread offense Texas has run for nearly the past decade.
“[At Boise], we’ve had to try to create matchups in our favor, and I think that was one of the things that pushed into going into this type of system,” Harsin said. “From that it just evolved into kind of a scheme that we felt became ours. We had a formula of how to do it that we felt worked very well.”
To compare, the Longhorns lined up in six formations on offense during their 34-7 win against Wyoming last fall. Boise State lined up in 26 formations and beat the Cowboys 51-6.
Harsin and Applewhite will team with newly hired receivers coach Darrell Wyatt to improve an offense that scored just fewer than 24 points per game, ranking 88th in the country.
Co-offensive coordinators are unconventional in college football but not unheard of. Justin Fuente and Jarrett Anderson constructed a TCU offense that ranked fourth in the country in scoring offense in 2009. Last month, Oklahoma named Josh Heupel and Jay Norvell co-offensive coordinators, after previous coordinator Kyle Wilson took the head coaching job at Indiana.
Co-coordinators have worked out in the past for Texas. Gene Chizik and Duane Akina were co-defensive coordinators in 2005 whewn Texas won the national championship.
“It’s an effort that we’re going to do this together,” Harsin said. “We’re going to put our minds together. There’s a lot of knowledge that’s going to be in that room, and we’re going to make this system a Texas system.”
Texas still has a vacancy at offensive line coach and the athletics department seems primed to fill that spot as the new co-coordinators begin to rebuild the Longhorn offense.
“They’re anxious to get started, and we can’t wait to watch what they do,” said Texas head coach Mack Brown.