AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Back when everything was still normal in college football, Texas coach Tom Herman did some house cleaning.
Tossed out were the offensive and defensive coordinators in favor of new assistants with past connections to Herman and the Big 12. By spring, four more new assistants were on staff.
Such a major rebuild after a disappointing 8-5 finish in 2019 would typically raise the temperature on a fourth-year coach who is 25-15 with the Longhorns and paid $6.2 million in expectation that No. 14 Texas will soon return to a Big 12 championship not won in more than a decade.
But the drastic shakeup largely got lost in the spring and summer of a pandemic. And while football was largely on hold for six months, the season is now rapidly approaching, pushing offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich, defensive coordinator Chris Ash and the others through a crash course of new plays and play calling.
Ash, who was an assistant with Herman years ago at Ohio State, was fired last season as Rutgers head coach. Yurcich was at Ohio State last season but also spent six seasons coaching against Texas at Oklahoma State.
Both at least have the luxury of inheriting a lineup mixed with experience, leadership and rising talent, even if there are some big holes to fill on both sides of the ball.
“It’s been a great marriage thus far,” Herman said early in Texas training camp. “They’re all pros.”
How long the honeymoon lasts will quickly be put to the test.
Yurcich has senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger to lean on as he tries to revamp a passing game missing big targets. Ash inherits a defense that was wildly inconsistent last year and will rely heavily has junior safety Caden Sterns and junior defensive end Joseph Ossai.
As far as the Big 12 Championship goes, the Longhorns will have to fend off their arch rival — the Oklahoma Sooners, who are considered the overwhelming favorite to win their sixth consecutive Big 12 crown overall because nobody has dethroned them since Lincoln Riley became head coach of the now fifth-ranked team.
Texas opens the season at home against UTEP on Sept. 12, then opens Big 12 play at Texas Tech on Sept. 26.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)