Texas could replace Harsin with Applewhite

AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Bryan Harsin has moved on to Arkansas State, sources told ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's Ian Fitzsimmons.

Now the time has come for co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach Major Applewhite to move up to the role of playcaller.

That’s right, for once a coaching search at Texas should be short-lived and equally as short on drama. That’s because Applewhite is already in the building and has half the title in front of his name. So it goes to reason in this silly season of college sports when there oft times is no rhyme or reason to whom is hired, that Texas will remove the "co" from in front of offensive coordinator and promote the former Texas quarterback.

It would provide the smoothest transition for an offense that returns all of its integral pieces from 2012, including all four quarterbacks, three running backs, two starting wide receivers and the entire offensive line.

In addition, Applewhite has had his finger on the pulse of the quarterback situation for the past two years and understands this position far better than any outsider could. That also means he understands the importance of getting the right player into that position so that Texas' offense, which produced in fits and spurts in 2012, is able to build on whatever gains it made as the Longhorns move toward 2013.

Of course the first question that will be asked of Applewhite is about the aforementioned quarterbacks. That is until he calls a play that doesn’t work. But for the time being the focus will be on how Applewhite judges and ultimately selects a Texas quarterback for the Valero Alamo Bowl and beyond.

Being that Applewhite himself was embroiled in one of the most heated quarterback debates in recent Texas history, it stands to reason that he should be able to stand the question and possibly even approach the situation with some new answers.

The other quick answers Applewhite will have to provide are to recruits Tyrone Swoopes and Jerrod Heard. Harsin handpicked both. If Swoopes enrolls in January, there will be five quarterbacks on the roster. Texas has not had that many scholarship quarterbacks on the roster since 2002. Heard is a 2014 commitment.

Furthermore, Harsin, in one of his last official recruiting acts, dabbled with the idea of bringing in a junior college quarterback. He visited three but none were offered, so Texas might avoid the backlash that would certainly ensue if a junior college quarterback enrolled and swelled the roster to six signal-callers.

But first and foremost, Applewhite will have to work with what he has in David Ash and Case McCoy. While Applewhite’s style is more aggressive than Harsin’s, neither quarterback should have an issue making the transition on the field or in the film room with Harsin.

Where there could be some transition is at the running back spot. Applewhite was the running game coordinator and also put in a lot of work on special teams. Texas really doesn’t have a current coach that fits that role, so it will have to look outside the program and find one.

It might behoove Texas to keep that search confined to either a high school coach with college ambition and knowledge or a current college assistant with extremely strong recruiting ties to Texas.

Texas A&M and Kevin Sumlin have made up serious ground in the state when it comes to recruiting. The Aggies have also opened up the door for more and more SEC teams to come into Texas.

In addition, Applewhite has been one of Texas’ stronger recruiters within the state. But with his focus on the quarterbacks, Texas will need someone to take up Applewhite’s slack and keep the competing schools at arm’s length.

A solid recruiter with strong ties to the state will also be able to stabilize what is a growing 2014 class when and if there is another move on the Texas coaching staff.