Texas Longhorns head coach Tom Herman doesn’t ever want his players to get used to losing. At times in past seasons, it seemed as if that was the case for the ‘Horns as blowout followed blowout under Mack Brown and Charlie Strong.
“Here we go again,” the players used to tell one another on the sideline.
The residue of those losses still permeates the program.
“Three straight losing seasons takes its toll on kids,” Herman said on Tuesday. ‘It really does. It’s difficult for them, especially when you deal with adversity. It can be a ‘here we go again’ syndrome, so that has been an ongoing challenge of re-establishing the right way to handle adversity, and the right way to compete, and the right way to go about our daily business.”
So it’s no wonder why there have been reports of player dissatisfaction behind the scenes following a 6-6 regular season capped by a devastating loss to Texas Tech that seemed to undo much of the momentum gained by becoming bowl eligible by beating West Virginia on the road.
The efforts to reprogram the team are still continuing, according to Herman.
The desire to compete and to be great is there, however, and has remained despite the fact that a number of players will miss the game due to early departures to the NFL, injuries, suspensions, and transfers.
“We have had some really, really spirited practices and that’s been really fun to watch, especially some of these young guys,” Herman said. “We’ve gotten better. I think we’ve had 17 practices, something like that. Will it manifest itself in the game tomorrow? I hope. If it doesn’t, that doesn’t mean that we didn’t get better, because we did.”
Those practices were critical to the team’s development — as Herman noted, the juniors on this team have missed around 35 practices in December that Big 12 opponents in places like Norman and Stillwater have used to get better.
Just as importantly, the ‘Horns have an opportunity to head into the offseason with a bowl win for the first time since 2012.
“I think winning this game will be important for us in terms of momentum,” Herman said. “It’s not life or death, but we sure as heck could use this to springboard us into the offseason for 2018.”
After all, nothing diminishes the toll of losing like winning does.