Just two weeks removed from Terry Gambill announcing that he would step away from the helm of the Allen Football Program, the district dropped a bomb. Today, Chad Morris was named the next head coach of the Allen Eagles.
Coming off of a decade-long run in College Football that saw him helm programs at SMU (2015-2017) and Arkansas (2018-2019), Morris will head to Allen to lead one of the country's premier High School Football Programs. If you're not quite up to speed on the Chad Morris saga, don't worry, we've got you covered.
Morris' tenure at the collegiate level started with a flash. After just one year of college experience, Morris was hired as the Offensive Coordinator at Clemson University. In his four years at Clemson, Morris led the Tigers' Offense to new heights, posting two Top 10 finishes in Total Offense. After his success at Clemson, SMU gave Morris his first opportunity to lead a college program. Over three years, Morris led the Mustangs to a 14-22 mark, which many considered to be a remarkable feat given SMU's recent struggles.
Perhaps his most notable tenure, though, was at the University of Arkansas. Morris was hired by the Razorbacks in 2018 as an up-and-coming young coach looking to prove his worth in the SEC. What followed was hard to watch. With Morris at the helm, the Razorbacks posted a 4-18 record, and won zero conference games in nearly two years. Morris was let go near the end of his second season.
Though, Morris isn't just known for all of that. In Texas, Chad Morris is best known as the man who led Lake Travis on an all-time run. In his final High School job, before bolting to the NCAA, Morris led the Cavaliers to Back-to-Back 4A DI State Championships and a 32-0 overall record. The Cavaliers haven't looked back.
Only time will tell if Allen has made the correct decision in Morris but with a pedigree like his, you'd be hard-pressed to blame them. Morris may not have been a hit on the college stage but, then again, few are. The hire of Morris certainly puts the Eagles in the spotlight, and with his proven experience and unparalleled success at the high school level you've got to be impressed with what Allen has done.
Yesterday's shocking news, broken by the Morning News' Greg Riddle, that Allen's head coach Terry Gambill announced his retirement will certainly reverberate throughout Texas High School Football, if not on a national scale.
BREAKING: Allen football coach Terry Gambill announces his retirement.
In five years as the school's head coach, Gambill compiled a record of 65-4 and led Allen to a 16-0 record and 6A Division I state title in 2017.
Read: https://t.co/qbXUoTqHPu#txhsfb @SportsDayHS @dctf pic.twitter.com/Kcr7NMxPDv
— Greg Riddle (@DMNGregRiddle) March 16, 2021
Allen football is one of the premier high school football coaching spots, and it's destined to be filled rather quickly. As DCTF's Matt Stepp tweeted below, it seems Allen is ready to pounce - though immediately refuted by the Allen ISD's Twitter account.
We know you're right on a lot of rumors, but not on this one. Completely false. There is no “list" and we look forward to seeing who is interested in the job.
— Allen ISD (@Allen_ISD) March 16, 2021
When Allen's job opened five years ago, it was filled within two weeks by Gambill, who came from Waco Midway after a six-year stint. At Allen, Gambill amassed a 65-4 record and never lost more than one game in a season, taking home the 2017 state title with a 16-0 record.
Before we get into theories, let's talk a bit more about the Allen gig.
There's immense pressure at Allen. It's a one-school district that has the largest public student body in the state that strongly emphasizes its extracurricular activities. From the multi-million dollar football-only stadium to the nearly thousand-member marching band, Allen expects participation and excellence.
To add to that, Allen football doesn't operate like any other public school in Texas. There's an abundance of background chatter from those more in the know with regards to Allen's tactics in getting top talent year-in and year-out. Kyler Murray is one instance, another is General Booty moving from California before the beginning of last season. Essentially, there is recruiting going on and it's basically an open secret at this point. So the next coach at Allen has to have some chops to get that talent, cultivate that talent, and win. Winning is obviously most important, and that will be priority No. 1 for the next coach.
After IMG Academy in Florida, Mater Dei in California, and other independent private schools, Allen is right near the top of the best opportunities in the nation. So, let's theorize what will unfold with the Allen head coaching job.
Hire From Within
Though Allen didn't do it last time, it's very possible could look from within. Right off the top, Allen has two very capable coordinators that have been with the program for a number of years. Derek Alford has been Gambill's offensive coordinator since their days at Midway. Alford's offenses have always been dynamic and finds a way to put players in a position to excel.
Cory Cain has been the team's defensive coordinator for a couple regimes at Allen now and could be an interesting promotion. The team's defense has been up and down through the years in comparison to the offense, but it has certainly held strong for the most part and won Allen some games.
Keep it in the Family
During Gambill's tenure, two of his sons played in the program. One of them, Cody Gambill, became the special teams coordinator and could possibly be the successor. Surely, the younger Gambill learned a thing or two from his father as well has some ideas of his own on how to run a program. The only hiccup here is being a bit unproven, and with this position, there might not be any leniency in allowing someone to learn on the job.
Without question there are a number of quality coaches and potential candidates right in Allen's own back yard. Even within its own district, there are a number of coaches that could step in and keep the train on the tracks. Right off the top, Marcus Shavers at McKinney, Rodney Webb at Denton Guyer or Cody Moore at Denton Braswell are some names that could be in the mix.
That's certainly not to say they will or have. We're just spit-balling here. Jesse Perales is another potential coach from Garland Naaman Forest after a great year last season and previous success at Del Valle. Jon Kitna by way of Burleson and Waxahachie? The possibilities from the area are endless.
Texas football is just different. Within that spectrum, Allen sits near the top as one of the most desirable jobs. While DFW coaches are probably dusting off resumes, there have to be 10 times as many Texas coaches, and 100 times as many national coaches showing interest. Would Todd Rodgers leave Argyle since Argyle is somewhat regarded as the 4A Allen? What about Scott Surrat at Carthage?
Essentially, Allen will have the pick of the litter. It went within the state last time out, and it could easily do it again.
Bigger than Big
The final idea is that Allen could go the Argyle Liberty Christian or Fort Worth Country Day route and hire someone with NFL or college experience. It would certainly continue that trend and definitely raise some eyebrows. The idea being that Allen would be a resume builder for something bigger and better down the road. That's the consensus with Jason Witten at Liberty Christian as he'll probably want to get to the college or professional coaching ranks.
Bringing a big name like that would also certainly help with attracting that blue-chip talent into Allen. Allen is a factory of talent, whether internal or through transfers. So if nothing materializes with current high school coaches, maybe there's a name out there that warrants making a "splash" hire.
Either way, Allen will continue to be Allen. It has established a precedent of winning, excellence and championship. Certainly, the School District knows how important the next hire will be to continue that tradition.