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The SMO: Your Sunday morning optimist

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Texas still sucks at football.

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Obligatory reminder: The SMO is usually an emotional overreaction based on the game events the day before. It does not deal in logic or reason.

Texas sucks at football. The offense sucks, the defense sucks, the special teams suck, the coaching sucks. It is a bad football team that will have to play lights out this season if it wants to make a bowl game.

I was in South Bend for the game. $300 tickets (or $100 per Texas point) and $300 airfare to spend a weekend in Chicago and the highlight sporting event of my trip was Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field watching the Cubs eviscerate the Diamondbacks.

Some thoughts on South Bend: Notre Dame Stadium was awesome, but most of my UT friend group walked away unimpressed. Here are some real quotes that came before kickoff, so it has nothing to do with the abomination of a football game we witnessed last night:

  • "South Bend seems like Indiana's version of Lubbock."
  • "Touchdown Jesus would be a lot cooler if it wasn't painted on Notre Dame's version of RLM."
  • "I think my expectations were a little too high."
FWIW, I thought it was pretty cool. Tailgating was centralized in a massive parking lot on the south side of the stadium -- which made it easy to maneuver between tailgates. Before the game, it felt like Texas was going to fill half the stadium. At least one in three people were wearing burnt orange. Private jets were approaching to land so often you would have thought we were situated right next to O'Hare.

Construction was under way for a major renovation to the east side of the stadium, so it'll be interesting to see what the final product looks like. With the construction going on and the artificial turf, it kind of lost the historic feel. Texas filled out its southeast corner and burnt orange was sprinkled throughout the rest of the stadium. Horns fans were loud until the opening three-and-out, when they all recognized the impending beat down that was coming their way. After a full day of drinking, Texas fans sobered up pretty quickly. At least Steve Patterson didn't send the UT Athletics ushers up and down the Texas sections with offering baskets.

Interesting fact: Notre Dame Stadium is located less than 10 miles away from the Michigan border. (I understand if you find this fact to be uninteresting.)

OK, now to football. Notre Dame doesn't have a video-board and my eyes are in a slow state of visual regression, so I actually couldn't see much of anything. Not that I would have wanted to. Texas is now in a miserable purgatory state where fans aren't sure whether fault for football failures belongs to the former Mack Brown regime or the current Charlie Strong regime.

Very Optimistic - Malik Jefferson

Jefferson showed why there is so much hype around him last night. The dude was a force to be reckoned with. He had some big hits early on, and Texas fans were happy to see somebody lighting up the Irish. You all saw better than I did, Jefferson has a very bright future in Austin.

He is still a freshman, so he was not void of mistakes. His pass coverage as a linebacker will need to improve. But he shined on a night where most Texas players didn't. MJ is a guy Strong can build around.

Very Pessimistic - Everything else

I believe performances like last night legitimize the "I want a coaching change" crowd. I'm speaking more to OC than HC, but blame for this game rest on Charlie Strong's shoulders first.

Last night was the first opening game loss Texas has had since the North Carolina State defeat in 1999 -- with the second-worst opening game loss-margin in UT history. I did not expect Texas to win yesterday, but I expected to see them fight and compete.  After an eight-month offseason with a revamped offensive scheme, Texas scored three points. The Horns showed zero improvement from the Texas Bowl debacle. It doesn't feel like this season will get much better, either. Looking at the schedule again, Rice appears to be the only winnable game in the first six weeks.

We all thought UT would be better, but the reality is it lost some of its most talented players from a 6-7 team and gained only freshmen. That still isn't a good enough excuse for the last few piss-poor performances.

As UT fans, we harp on the bullshit all the time:

"Oh, we win with integrity."

"Actually, we prefer doing things the right way."

"Core values core values core values core values."

All of that stuff is just an excuse, too. Do you think other programs don't "win with integrity"?  Texas literally trademarked that phrase during Mack Brown's final disappointing season in Austin to shift the message from championships to "winning the right way." Do you think other coaches don't have the exact same rules that Charlie Strong enforces? No guns, no violence, etc. is a pretty basic standard at every college football program in the country. Diverting football conversation back to "at least we are changing the culture" isn't enough when the team is getting embarrassed week after week.

Getting consistently blown out is not an option at Texas -- even during a rebuild.

I don't feel like getting started on Tyrone Swoopes, but it felt like the guy had no desire to be on the field last night. It is safe to say he is not going to be the answer Texas fans so desperately want him to be. His only redeeming football quality last night was zero turnovers. Texas completed eight passes and punted the ball 10 times.

With his mediocre offensive line, I wouldn't expect much else from Swoopes in 2015.

Credit where credit is due: Notre Dame is a very good football team. The Fighting Irish have a legitimate shot at making the four-team playoff this season. That said, ND will play teams with less talent than the Longhorns this season, and those teams will give them a better test than Texas did. One ND player told me after the game that his teammates were "shocked" at how bad Texas had become. He said it felt like Texas had a lot of talent, but seemed discombobulated. After last night, I imagine all of the Power-5 athletic directors who scheduled dangerous early season FCS opponents are frantically trying to replace them on the schedule with Texas.

UT embarrassed itself on a national stage while Texas A&M beat a Top-15 opponent. Recruiting is only going to get tougher in Texas for the Longhorns. I like Charlie Strong, but he needs to figure this shit out pretty fast. If that means more changes on the offensive staff at the end of the season, so be it.

I still believe the distant future is bright, even if the near future is not.