Ordinarily I’m pretty good about tracking these things in real time and getting a post up relatively quickly, but I’ll admit that on the first part of this afternoon’s news I just missed it.
In case you are like me, Baylor confirmed the long-rumored hire of Joe Wickline as OL coach under Larry Fedora (our new OC) about 3 hours ago. Wickline achieved most of his fame/notoriety as the OL coach at Oklahoma State from 2005-2013 but he actually spent time at Baylor before that in 1997-1998 (after Fedora left for Air Force, coincidentally, and thus the “welcome back” part of the tweet above), then he joined Fedora at MTSU in 1999, moved with him to Florida in 2002, and again to Oklahoma State for his longest sting in 2005. So he’s got a lot of history with Fedora, is what I’m saying. In Texas Wickline is perhaps best known for his time in Austin when Charlie Strong hired him away from OSU to work with Shawn Watson in what can charitably be described as a disaster of an arrangement. After that fell apart he moved to West Virginia through the 2018 season before sitting out 2019 (much like Fedora, actually). On a slight tangent, I find it really interesting that he was at Delta State about 20 years before Roberts and Aranda came through, and that’s a pretty weird connection to have.
I’ve heard mixed reactions about this hire from both Baylor and other fans, mostly stemming from the Texas disaster I referenced above. The theory goes that if he couldn’t win with/develop the level of talent Texas can pull, how good can he be? There are also rumblings that he’s difficult to deal with because he’s extremely particular; thus, people don’t really like him. I’d note that this runs counter to virtually everything we know about his history at Oklahoma State, where he was extremely highly regarded (enough to be celebrated when he got the Texas job initially), and the perception from national observers. It’s enough for me that he knows Fedora and how he likes to do things, has worked in Fedora’s system extensively before, and has developed multiple NFL players over his career. He’s yet another experienced college coach with coordinator on his record. And he’s also a former Baylor Bear coming back home again, even if he was only with us for a year or two in the 90s the first time.
Welcome back, Coach Wickline!
The other bit of hiring news today came totally out of left field in that it’s a name that wasn’t on anybody’s radar as far as I know. Just a few minutes ago Baylor announced the hire of Brian Stewart, most recently the CB coach for the Detroit Lions, as our own CB coach under DC Ron Roberts. When the announcement was made the name seemed familiar to me, and I couldn’t figure out why. Then I read Baylor’s release (linked below) and realized that he was the Dallas Cowboys’ DC in 2007 and 2008 under Wade Phillips. After leaving the Cowboys, Stewart spent another season in the NFL with Philadelphia before dipping back down into CFB for seven seasons with Houston, Maryland, Nebraska, and Rice from 2010-2017.
I don’t have much else to say about this one other than that he’s obviously extremely experienced (and well traveled) on the defensive side of the ball that has not only been a defensive coordinator, but a NFL defensive coordinator. That makes five hires on this coaching staff so far (out of nine) with coordinator experience in CFB or the NFL as far as I can tell (Aranda, Fedora, Wickline, Roberts, and Stewart). I don’t see an obvious connection either Roberts or Aranda, but in Baylor’s release, Stewart references both highly. I would note that the hire of Stewart as CB coach and not simply the secondary caoch implies that there is another defensive coach yet to come for the safeties.
Welcome to Baylor, Coach Stewart!
With Wickline and Stewart filling two of the remaining four roles from yesterday, the coaching staff is now missing just a RB coach and probably someone to work with the safeties. We now have the following:
HC: Aranda (@CoachDaveAranda)
DC/ILBs: Roberts (@CoachRonRoberts)
AHC/(OLBs): McGuire (@CoachMcGuire_BU)
DL: Johnson (@CoachDJ_)
CB: Stewart (@stewdg1)
OC/QBs: Fedora (@CoachFedora)
PGC/WR: Munoz (@CoachMunoz13)
OL: Wickline (none*)
TEs: Bell (@CoachShawnBell)
*I found a couple of possibilities for Wickline, but neither has been active since at least 2014. I’m going to guess he’s not a huge Twitter guy.