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Two Bold Hires Have AAC Schools In A New Position

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Lets face it, there is no overarching identity in the American Athletic Conference. That is unsurprising given that the league spans two time zones and wildly differing climes. Travelling from Houston to Storrs, Connecticut is a near 2,000 mile odyssey. Given those factors its no surprise that all of AAC schools play with varied styles of play.

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

That will start to change because of the hires that are coming from the heartland. SMU made what is probably going to be the hire of the off season when they poached Chad Morris from Clemson. Morris was one of the first guys that the SMU administration zeroed in on after the resignation of June Jones, and he wound up taking the job. Morris is a legend in Texas who is bringing an offense that is a picture perfect match for the kind of talent that the state of Texas is creating on an annual basis.

To understand why that is the case you need to know something, there is not a state in the nation that has taken to the precepts of the Air Raid and spread offenses more generally with more enthusiasm than Texas has. Seven on Seven football has been a part of the development of offenses for decades. But seven on seven has become, in essence, the second sport of Texas.

From March through July there are nearly non stop seven on seven events being held throughout the state on any given weekend. There are more starting quarterbacks in the NFL from the state of Texas than from anywhere else in the nation. That's not some statistical fluke born of Texas's immense population, its the 10,000 hour rule playing out before our very eyes.

Young quarterbacks in Texas spend so much more time working on the passing game; on their release, on reading the defense, on perfecting their drop, on their timing throws that they develop a level of sophistication that is unmatched by their cohort in the rest of the country. The same precepts are true of their skill position players. It's not uncommon for receivers to actively read defenses at the high school level in Texas. That simply doesn't happen in other states, because it's hard for receivers to develop that second hand communication with their quarterback without the benefit of the hundreds of additional hours spent playing seven on seven.

Which brings me back to the hiring of Chad Morris by SMU. That hire, along with the hiring of Baylor offensive coordinator Phillip Montgomery by Tulsa positions those schools to really tap into that Texas market in a way that they weren't previously.

June Jones came to Dallas from a long and successful run as the head coach at Hawai'i where he coached Timmy Chang, and then Colt Brennan to NCAA records and many, many wins. Because of that his ties were to the Islands, and to the west coast, Southern California in particular. Yes he recruited Texas, its impossible not to at SMU, but they also devoted a lot of time and resources to recruiting Arizona, California, Washington, Oregon and yes, Hawai'i. Because of that Jones was never really able to tap into the infrastructure that has sprung up around spring football in Texas.

Chad Morris will not have that problem, nor will Montgomery at Tulsa. The only question is will Houston follow in the same path, hiring someone who gets what is happening in that state, and what kind of resource they have with their in state talent? The smart move would be to do just that, but they did just meet with Will Muschamp of Big Dumb Will Muschamp Football fame. In which case Houston's worst fears about being left behind by their regional rivals would prove true.