The Gilbert saga finally came to an end after Texas coach Charlie Strong, Texas president Greg Fenves and Texas AD Mike Perrin made a trip to Tulsa on Friday night to secure the Longhorns’ would-be offensive coordinator.
Matt Mattox, co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach for the Golden Hurricane, is also expected to join Texas, per a source.
It’s a return to the Lone Star State for the 37-year-old Gilbert, a well-regarded former Texas high school coach and one of college football's most innovative young minds. This season was his first at Tulsa, where he was an integral part of an explosive Golden Hurricane offense that is among the nation’s most improved.
With Strong entering a critical third season in Austin, he is depending on Gilbert to reinvigorate his offense. The Longhorns were 85th this season in the FBS in scoring offense (26.4 points per game) and 93rd in total offense (370.8 yards per game).
“Texas is very lucky to have him,” says Syracuse coach Dino Babers of Gilbert.
A savvy recruiter, Gilbert spent last season as co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Bowling Green under Babers, who was hired as Syracuse’s coach last week. Gilbert also worked for Babers as offensive coordinator at Eastern Illinois from 2012–13.
There, Gilbert tutored quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who led one of the FCS’s most lethal offenses and won the 2013 Walter Payton Award, the Heisman Trophy award of the FCS. Garoppolo was drafted in the second round of the 2014 NFL draft by the New England Patriots.
Gilbert and Mattox first crossed paths at Eastern Illinois, when the latter was hired by the program as offensive line coach in 2013. Mattox moved with Gilbert and Babers to Bowling Green in 2014, serving as co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, and then moved with Gilbert to Tulsa prior to this season.
Before Eastern Illinois, Gilbert was the offensive coordinator for a season at Temple (Texas) High in 2011. That came after he was the coach of Lake View High in San Angelo, Texas, for three seasons. During the first of those seasons, he led Lake View to a bi-district championship and its first playoff appearance in 13 years. He was also the West Texas High School Coach of the Year in ’08.
Gilbert was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Abilene (Texas) High from 2006–07 after spending ’05 as an offensive graduate assistant under then-Houston and now-Baylor head coach Art Briles. Gilbert got his start in coaching as quarterbacks and running backs coach at Springtown (Texas) High from ’03–04.
A San Angelo, Texas, native, he was a quarterback at Angelo State from 1999 through 2002.
Like Gilbert, Mattox got his start at the college level as a Houston graduate assistant in '05 after playing under Briles at Houston for two years.
Gilbert takes over the Longhorns’ offensive coordinator duties from Jay Norvell, who was elevated to play-caller after former play-caller Shawn Watson was demoted following a season-opening loss at Notre Dame.
Texas finished with an inconsistent 5–7 record this season that included handing No. 4 Oklahoma its only loss of the season and a regular-season finale victory at Baylor.