January 16, 2008

Applewhite 'steers' West

The University of Texas made official what has been reported since Tuesday by multiple news outlets including Rivals.com when it announced on its website that Alabama offensive coordinator Major Applewhite has been named running backs coach at his alma mater, UT.

Longhorns coach Mack Brown, who coached Applewhite during his playing days at UT, met with his former quarterback Tuesday night. Applewhite's introductory news conference will be Thursday at 10 a.m.

"We're really excited to have Major back," Brown said in a report on UT's official football website. "He was a great player for us and we saw him growing into a terrific coach as a graduate assistant here for two years. He's had a chance to go work at a few other places, gain some great experience and will be a tremendous addition to our staff."

Terms of Applewhite's new contract were not released. His contract with Alabama for $250,000 included a $50,000 buyout.

"It's exciting to be a Longhorn again," Applewhite said. "The opportunity to come back to my alma mater, working with Coach Brown, Coach Davis and all the great coaches, many that I know and have worked with before, is special. Having the chance to be with all of them the last couple of days, to see their passion, to be a part of the expectations they've built and see how they're all on the same page and heading in the same direction is really exciting to be a part of. It's not just about being back in Austin, which is great because I love everything about this place, but the challenge Texas football presents, the familiarity I have with the program and Coach Brown's philosophy that I believe so strongly in. That's ultimately why this was an opportunity I couldn't turn down."

A record-setting former quarterback for the Longhorns, Applewhite makes his fourth coaching stop in as many years. He coached at Syracuse in 2005 and Rice in 2006 before joining the Alabama staff last year.

As for his feelings about leaving the Crimson Tide, Applewhite said he appreciates what he learned in one year under UA coach Nick Saban.

"Alabama's a great place," Applewhite added. "As an athlete or anybody, you have goals and dreams, and one of mine growing up was to be a player or coach at The University of Alabama and I'm grateful for that opportunity. I can't thank Coach Saban and Coach (Mal) Moore enough for the chance they gave me. It's an honor to have worked for such a great coach, at such a special institution."

The search for Alabama's next offensive coordinator begins just three weeks before national signing day. Earlier this week, BamaOnLine.com spoke with one of Applewhite's key recruits, quarterback Star Jackson, who said Applehite's departure would not affect his commitment to UA.

Applewhite coached just one season as Alabama's offensive coordinator after performing in the same role at Rice in 2006. Alabama's offense ranked seventh in the Southeastern Conference in both scoring offense (26.8 points per game) and total offense (372.6 yards per game) under Applewhite.

In Applewhite's one season directing the offense at Rice, the Owls broke the school's scoring record (350 points), a 109-point improvement over the previous season. Prior to that, Applewhite was a graduate assistant at Texas for two years and coached quarterbacks at Syracuse in 2005. In his playing days as quarterback at Texas, Applewhite became UT's all-time leader in passing yards (8,353) and passing touchdowns (60).

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