Former Oilers great, running back Earl Campbell is the latest ex-Longhorn to chime in on the embattled and struggling University of Texas football program (joining another ex-Titan, Chris Simms). Lost in all the hubbub of Saturday's fun college football action was USC firing head coach Lane Kiffin (who still can't step foot in the state of Tennessee) in the early hours of Sunday morning. As news of Kiffin's termination trickled down, Campbell made several statements about the Longhorns program to Houston's Fox 26. He praised USC for acting quickly on the matter with a firm conviction while taking veiled shots at Texas
"I'd just say this, I take my hat off for USC for what they've done. They didn't mess around with it. They just said 'let's do it now.' I think at some point our university's people are going to have make a decision."
Where it gets interesting for the Titans is the candidate he endorses to take over the reins from Mack Brown
"If we're going to make a change I would like to say that we got one in the house, Jerry Gray, who's getting in the College Football Hall of Fame," Campbell said. "I think that would be a good place to start."
"Very hard because Coach Brown is a very good man," Campbell said. "I just hope he doesn't stay...he's done some great things. The program, he brought it back, and we don't need it to get run down where somebody has to start all over again, maybe Jerry Gray."
Campbell is not wrong when it comes to the end of Mack Brown's tenure as head coach but his endorsement of Jerry Gray is a little unexpected. Yes I know that Jerry Gray is a former 'Horn but he's been out of college coaching for a long time now. There are several questions about the potential Gray hiring in the likely event that Brown's services are no longer required in Austin. The big one being would he leave a good job in the NFL for the pressure cooker that is being a big time Division 1 head coach? Is Gray a good fit for the college game after being out of it for so long? Does he even want to be forced to wine and dine the big money boosters and recruit?
I say no to all counts. Mr. Gray strikes me as a person who just wants to coach instead of having to address boosters, media, and the like all the time. I'm not saying he can't do it but being an NFL DC allows him the opportunity to coach with little outside interference. There's also the question of the transition to the college game for him. It could be a possibility for him should a smaller job come along where he can grow into it but a top 5 job like Texas is asking too much. Another question for the Titans is that should he get hired, how many assistants would he take with him?
Jerry Gray is a way out of left field darkhorse candidate for the Texas job, should it come open. He fits the criteria of what the Horns would supposedly look at. Texas alum, NFL coaching and playing experience, and the anti-Kiiffin, personality wise. The Texas job, when open, along with USC, is a top 5 job, no questions asked. They have nearly unlimited resources, great facilities, and an unparalleled (except Florida and California, obviously) recruiting base. It's just that Gray is not a good candidate for the job. Besides, wasn't it just a few months ago when everyone and their brother was calling for him to get fired? I think this speculation is just Earl Campbell talking but when a Texas legend speaks out to this extent, it's a bad sign for the incumbent coach.