Baylor football’s search for its next head coach has reportedly shifted to one person — Southern Methodist head coach Chad Morris. Football Scoop’s Zach Barnett reported on Tuesday that Baylor is “zeroing in” on the Mustang’s second-year head coach.
Morris has rapidly transformed the SMU program, taking the Ponies from a 1-11 record in 2014 and 2-10 in Morris’s first season to doorstep of a bowl game while playing in one of college football’s deepest, most competitive divisions.
Morris is tied to the state of Texas itself and has utilized Texas recruits within his program. Morris, a native of Englewood, Texas, went to college at Texas A&M, and then spent 16 seasons in the state coaching high school football. There, he compiled a 169–38 record before Tulsa hired him as offensive coordinator in 2010. He then spent the 2011-14 seasons at Clemson as the Tigers’ offensive coordinator, where he helped build one of the nation’s most dangerous units.
Baylor fired Art Briles before the 2016 season began amid an ongoing university sexual assault scandal. Interim head coach Jim Grobe has the team at 6-4.
Morris’ up-tempo spread offense would make sense for Baylor’s personnel and style of play over the last few years.
One of the most notable things Morris has done during his two seasons as the Mustangs’ head coach is successfully recruiting Texas.
In Morris' first two signing classes at SMU since taking over after 2014, the Mustangs have signed 47 players. Every single one of them has had a Texas address. That’s all they’re recruiting for 2017, too. Morris came to the college ranks via almost two decades coaching high schoolers in the state, so it’s a natural fit, and it’s now his whole recruiting strategy.
"The only chance we got is to win with our Texas high school coaches," Morris told Steven Godfrey and Bill Connelly at AAC media days. "Well, I’m one of them. Coached ball with ’em for 18 years. Knowing those guys, having their help, it’s a big part of our success in our recruiting."
Morris comes from East Texas, and that's part of SMU's focus, along with Houston, Austin and the Mustangs' primary recruiting stronghold, the Dallas-Fort Worth area. And virtually every signee is Texan.
"We're laying market," he said. "We're the only Division I program in our state that can say that, so a Texas-tough mentality."
As we enter Week 13, Morris’ Mustangs are 5-6, with a game against Navy remaining. One of Morris’ signature wins this season came during his team’s upset 38-16 win over against No. 11 Houston on Oct. 22.