"I grew up and played high school football in Texas and coaching at The University of Texas was a dream come true," McCrary added. "I can't thank DeLoss Dodds, Butch Worley, Mack Brown and everyone at The University of Texas enough for everything they've done for me. My six years at UT have been the best years of my life."
McCrary joined the Longhorn staff in 1998 after spending five years at Rice, the final season as the Owls defensive coordinator.
"Hardee is a great friend and a guy whom we've had a relationship with since he was on our staff at Tulane 20 years ago," head coach Mack Brown said. "He has done a great job for us. When we came here, one of the biggest challenges we faced was rebuilding the relationship with Texas high school coaches, and no one could have helped us more than Hardee. Coaches love him, his players love him, in fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find anybody who doesn't like Hardee McCrary. Hardee gave 100 percent to his job. Coaching is a tough, time-demanding profession. And after the years he's given to the business, I understand and respect his desire to spend more time with his family. We wish him, the kids and Susan the very best. He'll always be a part of our Longhorn family."
The Austin American-Statesman reported two weeks ago that McCrary planned to resign to take a high school coaching job. McCrary would "neither confirm nor deny" the original story when an Inside Texas source spoke with him the day that it was posted.
In news-speak, when a subject will "neither confirm nor deny" a report, it basically means your sources are accurate. McCrary was surprised that the story leaked two weeks ago, according to our source, who also added that McCrary had hinted since late last fall about the possibility of not returning to Texas for the 2004 season. The Statesman later retracted the story after McCrary labeled the account as "premature."
The speculation has been that McCrary's announcement was strictly a matter of timing, as he did not want to be the second of Brown's staff to leave (defensive coordinator Carl Reese announced his resignation on Jan. 6) so close to the February 4 national signing day for high school recruits. Reese, of course, insisted he was "not forced out" but that a change would be positive both for him and the Longhorn program.
Yet Brown was on record on more than one occasion last fall in voicing his disappointment that Texas' down linemen were failing both to tackle consistently and pressure the quarterback through a sustained pass rush. The Texas defense recorded just four total QB sacks in losses to Oklahoma and Arkansas and none in the Holiday Bowl loss to Washington State last season (while nearly dropping a home game to pass happy Texas Tech for the same reason). Even so, Brown included a statement in Reese's press release that there would be no more coaching changes this off-season.
"The thing I'm going to miss the most is all of the coaches and players," McCrary said. "That's a great group of guys and it's going to be hard not being around them everyday. I've enjoyed working with all of the players and watching them develop and I'll really miss being around the talented group of young guys we have now. But I'll still watch them every chance I get and be their biggest fan."
The 2003 season marked his 24th year as a collegiate coach.