It took more convincing than Texas initially believed would be needed, but the Longhorns have landed one of their top targets at offensive coordinator with Tulsa's Sterlin Gilbert agreeing to join the program.
The Longhorns announced Saturday that Gilbert will earn $850,000 in each season of his three-year contract, which is believed to be a significant increase from his salary with the Golden Hurricane.
“I feel extremely blessed by this opportunity,” Gilbert said in a statement released by Texas. “I’ve been looking forward to an opportunity like this for a long time, and we’re finally here. I’m excited to be on campus, and to get around our kids and our coaching staff. Coach [Charlie] Strong has been great through this process, and I just can’t wait to meet and see our kids.”
Gilbert, who was technically Tulsa's co-offensive coordinator with Matt Mattox, brings Mattox along for the ride as his offensive line coach. The assistant will earn $550,000 annually as part of his three-year contract with Texas.
As a consequence of the moves, the Longhorns announced Saturday that they parted ways with quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson and offensive line coach Joe Wickline.
It was a long road for Texas and Gilbert to reach this agreement, and it appeared as if Gilbert -- who authored the third-fastest offense in the nation in 2015 -- had all the leverage.
Following erroneous reports Thursday that Gilbert had accepted the Longhorns job, it was later reported that Gilbert turned down a three-year offer. He was actually concerned about Strong's longevity with Texas and whether the decision makers in Austin planned to keep Strong around for the long haul after a rough start to his career there.
The Longhorns rallied together Friday in order to convince Gilbert to join them in Austin. First, school president Greg Fenves sent out a tweet to declare that he was firmly behind Strong.
I fully support Charlie Strong. I am committed to helping him move Longhorn Football forward.— Greg Fenves (@gregfenves) December 11, 2015
Fenves, athletic director Mike Perrin, Strong and another Texas coach then jumped on a plane to woo Gilbert in person. And yes, before you ask, it was captured on camera.
EXCLUSIVE: Charlie Strong & UT prez and AD meeting with Tulsa co-OC's Sterlin Gilbert and Matt Mattox near Tulsa. pic.twitter.com/CLDajhiwxf— Charlie Hannema (@CharlieHannema) December 12, 2015
So after seemingly declining the Longhorns' offer initially, Gilbert is headed to Austin to help turn around an offense that was ranked 93rd in total offense (compared to 14th for the Golden Hurricane) and 117th in passing offense (11th for Tulsa) just one season ago.