It's Day One for Mac Duff at Texas

New Texas Co-Defensive Coordinator Larry Mac Duff met with his troops at 6:00 a.m., Friday as off-season workouts began for the Longhorns. He also met with Austin media for the first time, and inquiring minds wanted to know: why would the former San Francisco 49ers special teams coordinator take a pay cut to return to the collegiate ranks after 15 years?

In fact, Texas coach Mack Brown had the same question when he initially contacted Mac Duff the first week in January. Former Texas Co-Defensive Coordinator Gene Chizik and Offensive Coordinator Greg Davis earned about $325,000 in 2006.

"Larry was making more money before he came here," Brown said. "He had a long-term contract. It had just been extended. My first question to him was why he would want to be at The University of Texas. The first thing you want is someone who is really excited about being here. He has such a passion for college football, and I could tell that he missed it. He grew up watching Texas. He wanted to be part of this program and part of its growth."

Mac Duff, an architect of Arizona's renowned 'Desert Swarm' defense in the 1990s, wants to be a part of it so much that he's putting his Tucson home on the market and will, effective immediately, have a direct hand (along with Jeff Madden) in directing Texas' strength-and-conditioning program.

"I missed college football," Mac Duff said, a 30-year coaching veteran. "There are a lot of positives about professional football. I enjoyed my experience there with two different teams (San Francisco 49ers, New York Giants). The thing that I missed at that level was the mentoring involved. I had a lot of personal enjoyment when I went into a young man's home to meet his family, and getting involved in recruiting, to see him come to the university that I was coaching at, and to see him try to do everything he can to contribute to his development, to see him have a good experience, and graduate, and then stay in touch with you. That's why I got my degrees in education. A lot of us were fortunate to have some great coaches as we grew up and who made tremendous impressions. The opportunity to get back in that environment, and having observed this (Texas) team and its coaches during the first 24 hours that I've been here, I've just been very impressed."

Mac Duff is reunited with lifelong friend and Co-Defensive Coordinator Duane Akina. The two coached together at both Arizona and Hawaii under Dick Tomey, who directed the DEs at Texas (2004) before assuming the head coaching position at San Jose State.

"First and foremost, there are some great people here at The University of Texas," Mac Duff said. "I've keep in touch with Duane and I have great respect for him as a football coach. There were just some great people here to begin with. That was the first attraction for me getting involved with talking about this job. It's an opportunity for me to get involved in a defensive coaching position and being involved where I feel like I could really contribute in the area of defense. Watching The University of Texas play throughout the years, it's been very impressive to me the way they've gone after things, the way they've played with emotion and enthusiasm, and the physical kind of football that they play. I watched as they fought back in games, and that shows a lot of character."

Mac Duff served two stints as Arizon'a defensive coordinator, including his decision to leave the New York Giants after four seasons to resume his role in Tucson to work for coach John Mackivic in 2001. Ironically, the move came after Akina left the same position after one month to come to Texas. Akina, in essence, worked for Mac Duff while in charge of the Wildcats' secondary. Now, Akina has the final say in calling defensive plays on game-day. The decision to give Akina the final word was made after Mac Duff accepted the job on January 6.

"Even though I had the title of (Arizona's) defensive coordinator," Mac Duff said, "I relied a great deal on (Akina) for game-planning and for in-game adjustment. He's very natural at seeing things. All those things lead up to him being a great choice for making the calls on defense."

Mac Duff and his wife Barbie flew from Tucson on Thursday, a 13-hour trek from door-to-door given weather-related flight delays and cancellations. (In fact, there were more than 190 travelers on the stand-by list for Mac Duff's flight to Austin, he said). He was able to greet the Longhorns for the first time during a team meeting Thursday night. (Brown was on a recruiting trip).

"The first thing I told the players was that I considered it a privilege to have an opportunity to be coaching at The University of Texas. To watch them in the team meeting last night, and to watch them work today, I saw why The University of Texas has won so much. I wanted to be a part of that."

Mac Duff will oversee the linebackers when spring football begins for Texas on February 23. His role with special teams will be determined with the next couple of weeks.

"He will work very closely with our special teams," Brown said, "but we've got some decisions to make about whether Duane will continue to work with punt-block and return. We've been the best in the country in those two areas. With Duane's added responsibility in calling the defenses, we know his time will be different. It's something he, Larry and I will discuss over the next month. They, and our special teams coordinator (Mike Tolleson), will look at what might be a better plan, possibly, than we've got on special teams. Then they'll bring that to me and, as a staff, we'll see if there are some areas that we can improve."

Texas ranked among the nation's Top 20 in four special teams categories at the end of the 2006 season. However, Texas' KO coverage team finished No. 41 last season after yielding 19.5 yards-per-return.

It will also be determined whether Mac Duff coaches from the sideline or the coach's box during games. Akina has made clear his preference, however, for remaining on the field.

Mac Duff will devote part of the off-season toward dissecting 2006 Longhorn game films to assist with personnel decisions prior to, and during, spring football.

"I'll go through every game, " he said, "and I will make evaluations of the guys even though I already have some impressions. You can say that the Texas defense runs to the ball well. They're a physical group and they do a lot of positive things as far as making things happen. The linebackers are right in the middle of that, and I'm excited about the opportunity to work with these guys."

Mac Duff played outside linebacker at Oklahoma from 1968-70. When the topic of his alma mater was first broached, Mac Duff glanced at his wristwatch and quipped, "It was 11 minutes since we started before I got asked that question." He then noted, "That precedent has already been set here about some coaches who have been here who have won some national championships." (Brown was OU's offensive coordinator in 1984, Darrell Royal was a Sooner quarterback).

Mac Duff''s Desert Swarm defense led the nation in 1992 by yielding just 8.9 ppg. One year later, Arizona's run defense finished No. 1 nationally after surrendering 30.1 ypg, setting a Pac-10 record. Akina coached Arizona's DBs from 1987-1991 before becoming the team's offensive coordinator (1992-95).

"(Mac Duff) is a perfect fit (with Akina) for what we're looking for at Texas," Brown concluded, "and that's a man with integrity, a man with a world of experience, a guy who lined up with Duane (at Arizona) and shut out Miami 28-0 in the Fiesta Bowl. And, a guy who's coached on the sideline in a Super Bowl is not going to flinch in the games that we play in that have a lot of excitement leading into them."


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