Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Updated: December 13, 10:43 AM ET
Major Applewhite to call plays
ESPN.com news services
AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas fans have gilded memories of former quarterback Major Applewhite on the field. Can his reputation survive now that he's in the lightning-rod position of calling the plays for Mack Brown's inconsistent offense?
Applewhite, who has been Texas' co-offensive coordinator the last two seasons, was handed play-calling duties for the Texas bowl game and next season on Wednesday when co-coordinator Bryan Harsin left to become the head coach at Arkansas State. Applewhite will also tutor the Texas quarterbacks.
Harsin felt it was time to take the reins of his own program and install his own vision at Arkansas State, sources close to him told ESPN.
Applewhite should know as well as anyone the potential storm he faces.
Greg Davis, Texas' offensive coordinator from 1998-2010, coached Applewhite, Vince Young and Colt McCoy, directing some of the most prolific offenses in Texas history before leaving the program under withering criticism from fans after the Longhorns went 5-7 in 2010.
Applewhite has held the co-coordinator title for the past two years while Harsin called the plays. Texas went 16-9 over that span with consecutive blowout losses to Oklahoma. The Longhorns (8-4) play Oregon State (9-3) in the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl.
As a player, Applewhite was a redshirt freshman starter in 1998 when Longhorns running back Ricky Williams rushed for more than 2,000 yards and won the Heisman Trophy. Applewhite led Texas to a 9-5 record in 1999, but in 2000 found himself splitting starts with Chris Simms.
Ironically, Applewhite may be most beloved by Texas fans for a game he didn't win.
By 2001, Applewhite was relegated to the bench as Simms led Texas to a 10-1 record with a chance to play in the national championship game if the Longhorns won the Big 12 title game.
But a rash of early turnovers by Simms put Texas in an early hole against Colorado, a team Texas had beaten soundly during the season. Applewhite relieved Simms and nearly led a dramatic comeback before Texas lost 39-37.
Applewhite was a graduate assistant at Texas for two seasons before coaching stops at Syracuse, Rice and Alabama. Applewhite joined the Texas staff in 2008 as running backs coach.
Harsin's departure prompted other moves on the Texas staff. Wide receivers coach Darrell Wyatt was promoted to co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Stacy Searels was given the title of assistant head coach for the offense.
Tight ends coach Bruce Chambers was named recruiting coordinator.
Information from ESPN's Joe Schad and The Associated Press was used in this report.