Quickly now, name the only Division I school that can boast having two guys on the same staff who served as winning head coaches in postseason bowl games in 2001. Here's a hint. Both of them go by the same name, even if they spell it differently.
Mack Brown hired Mac McWhorter on Thursday to fill only the second vacancy he's had on his Longhorns football staff in his five seasons, and in doing so, he continued a tradition of reaching out for experienced excellence. And he beat a couple of high-profile schools to the draw with his latest "recruit."
McWhorter's 28-year coaching career hit a high point on Dec. 27, 2001, when he served as Georgia Tech's interim head coach and led the Yellow Jackets to a 24-14 victory over No. 11 Stanford in the Seattle Bowl. He had reportedly been a popular choice among the Ramblin' Wreck's players to replace George O'Leary, who resigned last December.
But when the Georgia Tech administration chose to go in another direction, McWhorter became one of the hottest commodities on the market. While Brown was conducting a week-long search for a replacement for tight ends coach Tim Brewster, McWhorter was being courted by no less than three major players on the national collegiate scene. He was like the prettiest girl in school who got to pick her date to the prom from a host of would be escorts. He's that good and so was Brown's pitch. If the game's recruiting, bet on Brown.
When Everett Withers left the Texas staff last spring for the Tennessee Titans, Brown filled the vacancy with Duane Akina, who brought tremendous energy and excitement to an already excellent staff.
"What we need is another Duane Akina," Brown said as he began to look for the guy to fill the void when Brewster left for the San Diego Chargers on Monday.
What he found was the total package. High-quality experience as a college player? Got it. How about lettering three years at Georgia under Vince Dooley, being named both All-Southeastern Conference as a player and as an academic All-SEC selection? Check. Leadership? How's offensive team captain? High school experience? Been there. McWhorter spent six years in the prep ranks in his native Georgia.
Big college experience? Try Alabama, Clemson, Georgia and Georgia Tech. Recruiting coordinator? He did that too ? for Bill Curry in his first stint at Georgia Tech. The list goes on and on. He served a year as a head coach at a small college in Georgia and has been assistant head coach, director of football operations and a co-offensive coordinator from Duke to Memphis and all of his high-profile stops along the way.
We learned on September 11 not to talk of football as "war" anymore, but he's seen the closest things to it in rivalries such as Georgia/Florida, South Carolina/Clemson,and the Apocalyptic battles between Auburn and Alabama.
With all of this, what really fit for Mack Brown was the chemistry McWhorter brought to the staff. And what fit for Mac McWhorter was the respect he had for Brown and his Longhorns coaching staff. Brown's shifting of responsibilities among an already highly-efficient staff that has produced the most prolific offenses in school history takes advantage of the knowledge of the game McWhorter learned first as an offensive guard at Georgia. From the moment he stepped on a college campus, his emphasis has been in the offensive line. So to fill the tight end job, Brown adjusted the line responsibilities to take advantage of two veterans - McWhorter and Tim Nunez. Nunez, whose considerable resume includes a stint at Marshall where he served as offensive coordinator and utilized the talents of a wide receiver named Randy Moss, will concentrate on the centers and guards, while McWhorter will work with the tackles and the blocking efforts of the tight ends.
Darryl Drake will work with the pass receiving skills of the tight ends while continuing his efforts with the talented corps of wide receivers. For Drake and offensive coordinator Greg Davis, having McWhorter join the staff is a reunion. The three worked together at Georgia in the early 1990s.
Those who surround Mack Brown will tell you his program is built around three basic premises: communication, trust and respect. He is all about relationships and creating a family atmosphere for his team and his staff.
With the hiring of McWhorter, he continues a staff tradition of hiring guys who are not riding in their first rodeo. They combine for more than 250 years of coaching experience with a commitment to proven systems as well as new approaches and new ideas. Their code is simple. It is devotion to a knowledge of the game and a healthy relationship with the players.
It is because of that devotion and plan that Brown has built a great staff and produced a terrific product at two different schools during the past decade. Those plans and his great staffs have helped him lead both Texas and North Carolina to Top Five finishes over the past five years - making Brown the first coach in 60 years, and only the second ever, to lead two different schools to the Top Five within a five-year period.
The other one was Hall of Fame coach Frank Leahy, who did it at Boston College and Notre Dame in 1940 and '41. That's good company, but so is having two bowl winners on the same staff.