Jeff Traylor to serve as SMU Interim Head Coach following Chad Morris' departure

DALLAS, Texas (KETK) - After it was made public that SMU's Chad Morris had accepted the position of head football coach for the University of Arkansas, SMU announced Associate Head Coach Jeff Traylor will serve as Interim Head Coach at least through SMU's upcoming bowl game.

In a statement to KETK's Reagan Roy, Traylor said:

We have a bowl game to play in two weeks and that will be our focus. The coaching staff and I are here to lead these young men and get them ready to play a talented and well-coached Louisiana Tech team in the DXL Frisco Bowl on Dec. 20. Winning a bowl game was a goal Coach Morris, our players and our staff set for this season and we remain committed to reaching that goal and getting our eighth win of the season.

SMU will take on Louisiana Tech in the DXL Frisco Bowl on December 20, at 7:00 p.m.

Traylor began his coaching career as an assistant coach at Big Sandy High School, where he spent four years (1989-1992). From there, Traylor served as an assistant coach at Jacksonville High School from 1993-1999, where he served as passing coordinator, defensive backs coach, receivers coach and special teams coordinator.


Traylor, a 1986 GIlmer High School graduate, took the head coaching job for the Buckeyes in 2000. In his 15 seasons at Gilmer, Traylor racked up three state championships (2004, 2009, 2014) and posted a 175-26 overall record (.871). He also led Gilmer to state runner-up finishes in 2007 and 2012, along with 12 district titles.

Gilmer reached the 10-win mark 11 times under Traylor's direction, while also recording seven 13-win campaigns. The Buckeyes reached the 15-win plateau three times, all of which resulted in undefeated state championship years, including two 16-0 marks in 2004 and 2014.

En route to the 4A Division II state title in 2014, the Gilmer offense put up the second-most points in the history of Texas high school football with 950 in 16 games for an average of 59.4 points per game. The Buckeyes scored over 60 points on nine occasions, twice posting 80 or more. They also averaged 536.1 total yards per game (8,577) with a balanced 293.9 passing yards and 242.1 rushing yards per contest.

The defense was equally impressive, allowing only 276 points (17.3 ppg) with five single-digit performances and two shutouts, while recording 23 interceptions and forcing 17 fumbles. Gilmer capped the season with a win over West Orange-Stark at AT&T Stadium in Arlington and had eight different players earn 4A All-State honors from either the Associated Press or the Texas Sports Writers Association.

Gilmer's two other state titles under Traylor, both in 3A, in 2004 (Division II) and 2009 (Division I), before the change in class structure in Texas high school football moved the school to 4A.

To take a look at Gilmer and Traylor's accomplishments at the high school level, check out KETK's Special Report,  "What is a Buckeye? The Legacy of Gilmer Football."


On February 9, 2015, Gilmer ISD confirmed to KETK, Traylor was in Austin interviewing for a job with The University of Texas.

Traylor was officially hired by former Texas Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong on February 13, 2015, as the tight ends and special teams coach. 

"Jeff's a tremendous football coach who has built a program at Gilmer that has had unbelievable success," Strong said at the time of his hiring. "He's a guy that we've watched, admired and really gotten to know. The thing about Jeff is he's just so passionate about the game and his players. We had a chance to get him in for an interview and around our staff, and he really impressed all of us. He has a great deal of knowledge and experience and having coached in this state for so long, really knows Texas. East Texas has so many great players that it really helps us to have a guy like Jeff on staff that knows the area so well. We're excited to have him on board."

Traylor quickly became one of the top recruiting names in the country, playing a key role in landing a top 10 signing class in February 2016. Behind Traylor, Texas recorded one of the most successful National Signing Days in recent history for the Longhorns. That class included former Nacogdoches 5-star safety, Brandon Jones. Jones was ranked the No. 1 safety in the nation for the 2015-2016 class.

Jones joined fellow 2016 East Texas recruit Demarco Boyd in the "40 Acres". The former Gilmer three-star linebacker enrolled at Texas early, having signed with Texas on January 6, 2016. Prior to his decision, he also had interest in Texas A&M and Baylor. According to recruiting websites, Boyd was the 566th nationally-ranked player, the No. 18 inside linebacker and the No. 77 player in Texas. 

For his efforts, Traylor was named the Big XII Recruiter of the Year by

In November 2016, following a less than stellar season, Strong was let go by Texas as they brought in former University of Houston head coach Tom Herman to take over the program. After being named head coach, Herman decided not to retain any of Strong's staff members, including Traylor.

Strong would eventually take over at The University of South Florida after Willie Taggart left for the University of Oregon.


After being released by Texas, Traylor joined the staff of Morris, another East Texas native, at SMU as Associate Head Coach, in February 2017. Traylor helped Morris and the Mustangs become bowl eligible for the first time since 2012.


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