The last few days have been a perfect storm of issues for Texas football.
After a devastating loss to Brigham Young University, head coach Mack Brown made the emotional decision to demote defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and bring in Greg Robinson as his replacement.
In five days, the Longhorns have gone from a hopeful national title contender to a team that was embarrassed by an unranked opponent.
“[I’ve] never done this before,” Brown said. “Obviously I’ve changed coordinators at the end of the year on both sides of the ball. Never done it during the season.”
But Robinson has a slight leg up in his monumental task of making his defensive changes in less than a week. The veteran coach of 36 years has been with the team since July 1, when he was brought in as an analyst. Robinson also worked with defensive backs coach Duane Akina as co-defensive coordinators for the team in 2004.
“It is easier because Duane and Greg have worked together and Greg has been doing nothing but studying us since July,” Brown said. “So this isn’t like bringing someone in from the outside as much as it is someone that I trust with knowledge of us, that’s been watching us the last three years, who has been studying us every day since he came onboard July the first.”
Robinson arrived in Austin from his Los Angeles home on Sunday as soon as he heard the news. He came straight from the airport in shorts and got right on the field to practice with his new defense.
The players have no choice at this point but to welcome Robinson with open arms. While they might still be unsure of what new schemes and alterations he’ll make, they’ll have to adjust.
But no one has to lecture them to trust in this new coach.
“We have to buy in, regardless,” junior cornerback Quandre Diggs said. “This is our team and it really doesn’t matter. We know what we did wrong on Saturday, and we know what we have to execute. We just have to put it on ourselves to play better.”
Most coaching changes occur at the end of the season, which gives a team at least a few months to learn the procedures of its new coach. Texas has five days.
“You adjust to it,” senior cornerback Carrington Byndom said. “That’s the only thing you can do. We know [Coach Robinson] is going to come in and may implement some of his stuff, but you just have to adjust to it. Nothing we can do but continue to play for whoever’s coaching.”
Saturday’s game will reveal what has been happening on the practice field for the past week. All that can be seen right now is if the players believe in their new coach.
“It’s known that he’s a very, very smart guy football-wise,” senior linebacker Jordan Hicks said. “There are not many people that know about football or have the experience that he has. So that’s very exciting, knowing what he brings to the table experience-wise and mentally. He’s excited to be back. You could tell. We’re excited to see where he takes us.”