Charlie Strong met with offensive coordinator candidate Sonny Cumbie Sunday evening in Fort Worth, a source close to the situation told HornsDigest.com Sunday night.
Strong is expected to interview a second candidate - Tulsa co-OC Sterlin Gilbert - as early as Monday, the source said.
The source said Strong took Texas run-game coordinator Jeff Traylor with him to Fort Worth Sunday night for the interview with Cumbie. Strong and Traylor were in Fort Worth for roughly five hours before returning to Austin around 11 pm CT Sunday night.
Texas gave Strong the green light to offer Cumbie a multi-year, guaranteed deal paying him $1 million annually. If Cumbie becomes the new OC at Texas, he might also be allowed to select a coach or two to join him on the offensive staff, a source said.
Strong contacted Gary Patterson to notify the TCU coach of his desire to interview Cumbie, who has more than a $250,000 buyout, said another source close to the situation.
Cumbie's play-calling experience is limited. He called plays for Texas Tech in a come-from-behind, 34-31 victory over Minnesota in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in 2012, when Chris Thomsen served as interim coach following Tommy Tuberville's departure to Cincinnati.
Thomsen, now the assistant head coach/offensive line coach at Arizona State, could be a candidate to join Cumbie if he were to come to Texas, two sources told HD.
The interest Strong has in Cumbie is three-fold:
1) He's well-versed in a passing game with roots in the Air Raid as a complement to run-game coordinator Jeff Traylor's power spread concepts. Those two have a good comfort level and respect for each other from Cumbie recruiting Gilmer, I'm told from a source close to Cumbie.
2) Cumbie has proven to be an excellent QB coach with his development of TCU's Trevone Boykin.
3) Cumbie is one of the best recruiters of QBs (especially Texas QBs - with Brennen Wooten currently committed to TCU for 2016 and 5-star Shawn Robinson for 2017), and everyone knows the lifeblood of Texas' program has been Texas QBs.
As I've reported, Cumbie could become a target of Bob Stoops at Oklahoma if OU offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley were to get a head-coaching job (East Carolina, where Riley was OC for five years, might have interest), and Cumbie could become a target of A&M's Kevin Sumlin, who appears to be ready to pull the plug on OC Jake Spavital.
If TCU offensive play caller Doug Meacham, who was a finalist for the North Texas job, were to get a head-coaching gig, of course, Patterson would seek to make Cumbie his play-caller.
If all the schools had vacancies at OC, I'm told Cumbie's priority list right now would probably be:
1) TCU - He's put in two years to help build it and has QBs on the way with Kenny Hill coming out of a redshirt.
2) OU - Baker Mayfield returns, and if OU has another season like 2015 in 2016, Cumbie's the hot head coach candidate.
3) Texas - Being the offensive play caller with a lot of young talent - and turning things around - would be enormous. The downside of things not turning around is significant.
4) A&M - See No. 3
I'm also told money and a guaranteed contract for so many years won't be the top priority in Cumbie's decision.
One source close to the Texas program said Strong plans to talk to two offensive coordinator candidates - with the other expected to be Tulsa's co-OC Sterlin Gilbert.
Gilbert, who has extensive ties to Texas, ran the offense for Tulsa coach (and former Baylor OC) Philip Montgomery this season, helping the Golden Hurricane average 35.9 ppg in a 7-5 season as junior QB Dane Evans completed 63 percent of his passes while throwing for 3,958 yards with 22 TDs and 8 INTs.
In 2014, Gilbert was co-OC/QB coach for Bowling Green's Dino Babers, averaging 30.0 ppg and 433 yards per game (173 ypg rushing/260 ypg passing) in an 8-6 season. Babers called the plays.
Gilbert gained the reputation as a rising star offensive coordinator while OC/QB coach under Babers at Eastern Illinois in 2012 and 2013, helping to develop QB Jimmy Garappolo into an NFL draft pick.
In 2013, Gilbert's second year at EIU, the offense led FCS in yards (589.5 - 372.4 passing/217.1 rushing) and points per game (48.2) while earning honors as FCS coordinator of the year.
Garappolo won the 2013 Walter Payton Award (FCS' version of the Heisman Trophy) after passing for 5,050 yards and 53 touchdowns. In two seasons under Gilbert, Garappolo threw for 8,873 yards and 84 TDs.
Gilbert was an all-state high school QB from San Angelo who went on to all-conference honors at Division II Angelo State. He started his coaching career as an assistant at Temple, Abilene Cooper and Springtown before getting a head-coaching gig at San Angelo Lake View, where he was named West Texas High School coach of the year in 2008.
Gilbert was hired by Art Briles as a graduate assistant coach at Houston in 2005 and was recommended to Dino Babers at EIU by Briles after Babers worked as Baylor's WR coach from 2008-11.
Another candidate, of course, would be Traylor, Texas' TE coach/run game coordinator and former Gilmer HS coaching legend.
Traylor's power spread offenses at Gilmer mixed the concepts of Chad Morris and Gus Malzahn and scored points like crazy during his decorated HS coaching career, which included 3 state titles (59.2 ppg during Gilmer's 16-0 4A state title run in 2014).null