"I told Major two years ago, that I felt like it would be unfair to put him in the position right after [former offensive coordinator] Greg Davis," Brown said. "He played for Greg, he coached with Greg and I didn't think he would ever have a chance for it to be Major's input. It would always be, 'Well, he's still doing what Greg did,' and that's not fair to him or Greg very honestly."
And while Brown didn't know that Harsin would leave after just two seasons, getting Applewhite prepared — the running backs coach was named co-offensive coordinator with Harsin — became a top priority.
I didn't know it would be two years, but I thought probably whoever we brought in, we had some success, usually our guys get jobs around here pretty quickly if they want them, and Bryan was a guy that he came here to get a head coaching job," Brown said. "That's the only reason he left Boise. We knew that. He and I discussed that. I told Major, 'You need to put yourself in position as the play caller every day, because that day is going to come fast, and when it comes, you need to be ready.'"
Shortly after Brown found out that Harsin was leaving, officially, he said he called Applewhite to ask him if he wanted the job. And Applewhite, always known for his confidence and moxie, responded simply, "Yes sir. See you in the morning."
"And he's been over here until about midnight every day working since," Brown said. "It's very unfair to judge him in any way with 13 practices before he has to call plays when he has not called them in a long time. But, you know, he's also been involved every day with every plan with Bryan. So it's not like he has not prepared for this. And that's what I've told him. I said that the day may come and, it may come quickly. We have had some coaches stay when they have taken other jobs and we've had some leave. It just depends on whether you're prepared for it or not.
"In his case, it was easy, because he can do this and he loves coaching quarterbacks," Brown said. "He learned to coach running backs. He's gotten very involved with our kicking game but quarterbacks are his passion, and the quarterbacks are excited about him, too, because a lot of them were raised remembering his name and watching him in their younger years. So that part so far has been an easy transition."
While Applewhite has worked with the quarterbacks, Blair Peterson, quality control, has worked with the running backs on a temporary basis. Brown said Texas will look to hire a running backs coach after the bowl game. As for whether he'd discussed offensive philosophy with Applewhite, Brown joked "Yes, for two years, or four years."
"We have been working on this for a long time and we have a master plan offensively, and I really feel good that all four guys in the room are on the same page moving forward, and they are excited about that challenge and moving forward," Brown said. "We will not discuss that beyond where we have until the bowl game is over. And then we will start having discussions that will lead into spring practice and then we will look at things in spring practice to see where we are before we decide who we are going to be for next fall."
Those long-term discussions will also focus on how the Longhorns may shift recruiting focus, though Brown said the end goal would be the same. Texas wants to get tougher and continue to improve running the ball, and while Brown can't mention individual 2013 recruits by name until they've signed their National Letters of Intent, with powerful linemen like Darius James and Kent Perkins on tap, Texas is taking more great steps toward that goal.
"We have gotten back to eight wins the last two years," Brown said. "We have a chance to get nine now, but it's time to take another step and we are not an eight-win program. I mean, that's not who we are. So the guys know that we need to step it up and do better, and they know offensively we would like to score more points. We really struggled last year offensively, did much better this year but there's another step out there we need to take."
Brown said he was impressed with the job Applewhite did the last few years, and said that he enjoyed promoting his former quarterback.
"It's really fun because I'm so proud of Major," Brown said. "It's just for the things that he did as a player here and it doesn't seem that long ago to me, but it obviously is. Just having him back is fun. [Director of Football Operations] Marcus Tubbs, all of those guys that you have play for you, when you bring them back if I really could, I would have a whole team of guys that played for me. A whole staff and that would be fun, because the trouble would be some of them might not bring in new ideas, they would do the same stuff. But there's a lot of guys that played for us at North Carolina that are out there and I really enjoy seeing them and coaching. Every time they move they call me and what do you think about this, coach and that. So you've just been more involved in their lives and their decisions.
"I think I've talked to Major before every move he's made in coaching, and for him to leave Alabama and come here as a coordinator was a risk for him, and he loves the school," Brown said. "So I'm proud that it's all worked out for him. And Bryan Harsin is getting his dream now, and Major is getting one of his dreams, and that's to be the offensive coordinator and call plays at Texas. I think he'll be a star. I think he'll be really good at it. I've watched him enough. He's driven and he's always been that way and he gets it and he knows it and he has a way with the kids. They all really like him. It's hard and tough, but at the same time, they embrace that. I think he'll be really good at this."