The University of Texas has promoted assistant coach Wyatt Collins to associate head coach of the men’s swimming & diving team.
While these frequent announcements of promotions to assistant or associate head coach are usually administrative changes to recognize an extra layer of responsibility from a normal assistant or to justify a pay raise, Collins’ promotion fits into a larger narrative of the succession plan for the Texas Longhorns.
Texas head swim coach Eddie Reese turned 80 in July. Earlier in the year, he announced his retirement as the most decorated Division I collegiate swimming coach in history. His teams have won 15 national championships at Texas in his 43 seasons, and 42 consecutive conference titles as well. The Longhorns seem well on their way to adding another to each of those columns.
Not long after, though, and just a few weeks before his 80th birthday, Reese un-retired, announcing that he would come back for another season leading the Longhorns.
Regardless of the reasons for why that happened, which will probably never be discussed publicly with full transparency, the hottest topic in college swimming is who will succeed Reese at the helm of the nation’s pre-eminent swimming powerhouse.
Will the Longhorns bring in a head coach from another top program, for whom this might be the only rung left to climb on the proverbial ladder?
Or will the Longhorns promote their young assistant Wyatt Collins, who has been with the team since 2014 in his only collegiate coaching experience?
“Wyatt is an exceptional person and that makes him an exceptional coach,” Reese said. “His knowledge of the sport is, for somebody his age, amazing. He loves it. He has great connection with the student-athletes and is really good at reading body language. Wyatt gets along great with the recruits and knows how to connect with them, so we get a lot of great talent that way.”
Collins swam for 2 seasons at Boston University before transferring and competing for Texas for one season in 2011-2012. He graduated from Texas in 2013, and after starting his career as an age group coach at the USA Swimming club Nitro Swimming, he joined Texas as a volunteer assistant for the 2013-2014 season.
After long-time Eddie Reese assistant Kris Kubik retired in 2016 (the two had spent 34 years together), Collins was promoted to full-time assistant, and has been with the Longhorns ever since. He has been a part of the last 5 NCAA Championship teams for Texas, as well as two runner-up finishes.
Collins is young, though by all accounts in and around the Texas program capable, and his age alone would be a dramatic shift for the Longhorns from Reese. Can we read between the lines of this promotion that it is a sign of confidence that he’s ready to take over the program? If not, it will certainly impress any outside athletic directors who might want to hire him away at the end of the season to lead a program of his own.
Because Reese and Kubik worked together for so long, the one thing that Reese really doesn’t have on his resume is a long coaching tree like some of the other great college coaches do, ala David Marsh or Frank Busch. If Collins were to take over the program and have success, that would serve to check one final box on the list of accomplishments by Reese that really are unparalleled in modern American swimming.