After years of surrounding himself with veteran coaches, Texas coach Mack Brown this past off-season hired two young coordinators.
The poker term is “All In,” a player risking their tournament life.
Brown went all in by hiring five new assistants, including two innovative coordinators.
Offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin, 34, called plays at Boise State for five years and has brought the Broncos' diverse, multiple set philosophy to Austin.
Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, 36, is a former ESPN production assistant, diametrical to the good ole boys Brown has relied on much of his career.
Brown's staff was accused of becoming stale, complacent. He had five assistants that had 31 or more years of experience. His two new coordinators aren't far removed from their 31st birthdays.
Harsin's offense sometimes is mislabeled as gimmicky. That's what some OU fans remember most from the Broncos' upset of Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, specifically the game-winning Statue of Liberty two-point conversion.
But the Boise State blue print is built around multiple formations, a smash-mouth running game and play-action, vertical throws that spread the field.
“They're a lot different than last year,” said OU safety Aaron Colvin. “They have different formations. You have to slow your mind down or they'll take advantage. You just need to dial in on your assignments.”
But Harsin certainly isn't vanilla. Far from it. His offense relies on misdirection and counter sweeps. And he'll toss in an occasional gadget play.
Earlier this season the Longhorns ran a play called “The Matrix.” A running back lined up at quarterback. The quarterback lined up as a wide receiver.
As the play unfolded the running back handed it off to the wide receiver on a reverse, who flipped the ball to the quarterback, who tossed a touchdown pass.
“They do a good job moving their people around,” said OU coach Bob Stoops. “They do a good job making people work. At the end of the day you need to keep leverage on them and defend them.”
Diaz is the son of a former two-term Miami mayor who emigrated from Cuba 50 years ago.
Convinced TV wasn't his future, Diaz's coaching career began stuffing envelopes as a graduate assistant at Florida State. He also was a grad assistant at North Carolina State before being promoted to N.C. State's linebackers coach.
Diaz was co-defensive coordinator last year at Mississippi State after two years as Middle Tennessee's defensive coordinator.
Inspired by the book “Moneyball,” which has been adapted in a current movie based on Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane's philosophy, Diaz uses stats to compile game plans.
His defense features constant movement and disguises. His risky philosophy was burned frequently his first year at Middle Tennessee. But last season Mississippi State held Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton to a season low 206 yards of total offense, 111 yards below his season average.
Ultra aggressive, Diaz's defense doesn't adjust to offenses. He forces opponents to adjust to him. Diaz calls blitzes at least one out of every three plays. He claimed to have blitzed 70 percent in one game at Middle Tennessee.
“They do blitz quite a bit. They do a good job creating pressure,” said OU offensive coordinator Josh Heupel. “The quarterback doesn't have a lot of time. They mix coverages, both zone and man. They do a good job of trying to keep you off balance.”
Brown's unique hires were risky but the early results have been positive.
Poker players that go all in either “double up” or are knocked out of the tournament.
By shoving all his chips in on Harsin and Diaz, Mack Brown is betting heavily two innovative coordinators are a winning hand.