After two days of talks with Texas coach Charlie Strong about the Longhorns' offensive coordinator job, TCU QB coach Sonny Cumbie has a decision to make.
Cumbie, 34, and pregnant wife Tamra left Austin late Monday afternoon after touring the Texas campus - and even a few houses - to go back to Fort Worth and sleep on an offer that turned out to be a two-year guaranteed deal worth $1.3 million per year, sources told HornsDigest.com.
Strong's original plan was to fly in Tulsa co-OC Sterlin Gilbert for an interview - and that could still happen, depending on Cumbie's decision, sources said.
One source close to Cumbie told HD Monday night that Oklahoma and Texas A&M have put out feelers to see if Cumbie would be interested if either of those schools suddenly had an offensive coordinator opening. OU's Lincoln Riley could be up for the East Carolina head coaching position, and Kevin Sumlin could be looking to let go of Jake Spavital.
It sounds like Strong is ready to make several concessions to Cumbie, including restructuring when the Longhorns' practice on Sundays to allow for church services to changing the team's weekday practices to accommodate Cumbie's up-tempo offense.
While Texas run-game coordinator Jeff Traylor would be retained, Strong would be willing to allow Cumbie to bring in two and possibly three offensive staff members with experience running Cumbie's up-tempo spread principles as long as they are beasts in recruiting, sources said.
A couple potential staff members who have been mentioned are Arizona State offensive line coach Chris Thomsen, a top recruiter who coached with Cumbie at Texas Tech, as well as Texas Tech RB coach and former Cibolo Steele head coach Mike Jinks, who has recruiting ties all over Texas after high school coaching stints at Robert E Lee, Galena Park and Judson.
Strong would undoubtedly like to have a new offensive coordinator by the time he makes a scheduled in-home visit on Wednesday with Texas commit Shane Buechele, Scout's No. 1 QB in the state for 2016, and no later than this weekend.
That's when Buechele, who plans to enroll early at Texas next month, takes his official visit to UT. The recruiting dead period begins Dec. 14 and runs through Jan. 13.
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.
Strong took Texas run-game coordinator Jeff Traylor with him to Fort Worth Sunday night for an interview with Cumbie, sources said. Strong and Traylor were in Fort Worth for roughly five hours before returning to Austin around 11 pm CT Sunday night.
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.
Sources said Strong was drawn to Cumbie because his spread, passing game concepts - grounded in Mike Leach's Air Raid - are a good complement to Traylor's power-spread run game which features the concepts of Chad Morris and Gus Malzahn.
Cumbie also has a strong record as a QB coach, helping to develop then-true freshman walk-on starter Baker Mayfield while serving as Texas Tech's QB coach under Kliff Kingsbury in 2013. The last two seasons at TCU, where Doug Meacham has been the play-caller, Cumbie has been the QB coach to Trevone Boykin.
Over the last two years, Boykin has completed 63.1 percent of his passes while throwing for 64 TDs with 20 INTs and averaged 4.8 yards per carry while rushing for 17 TDs. Boykin finished fourth in last year's Heisman Trophy race, helping TCU to a 12-1 record.
Cumbie is seen as an excellent recruiter of quarterbacks in the state having already helped land commitments to TCU from 2016 QB Brennen Wooten and 5-star 2017 dual-threat Shawn Robinson.
Sterlin 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.
Cal offensive coordinator Tony Franklin, a passing game disciple of Hal Mumme (like the king of the Air Raid - Mike Leach), could also be under consideration. Franklin, who helped recruit and develop Cal QB Jared Goff under head coach Sonny Dykes, has been the offensive coordinator at Kentucky, Troy, Auburn, Middle Tennessee State and Louisiana Tech.
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 scored points like crazy during his decorated HS coaching career, which included 3 state titles, including 2014, when Gilmer's undefeated (16-0) 4A state title run included an average of 59.2 points per game.
After one game this season (a 38-3 pummeling at Notre Dame in which UT went three-and-out on 8 of its 10 possessions), Strong replaced Shawn Watson as offensive play caller with former Oklahoma co-OC Jay Norvell.
Strong also made Traylor run-game coordinator, replacing offensive coordinator/OL coach Joe Wickline. Texas was eighth in the Big 12 in scoring (26.4 ppg) and dead last in passing offense (145.9 ypg).