If incompetence was a respected art form, Texas Longhorns football would be featured in all the finest galleries.
Following another disastrous performance on Saturday — this time at the hands of the Baylor Bears — Texas is in the midst of its most disappointing season in the last 10 years.
Coaches and players asked for the expectations this year. They placed a target on their backs after beating Georgia in a Sugar Bowl and claimed to be “back.”
It’s fair to be upset. In an online poll of more than 1,000 Texas fans, 30 percent believe a coaching change is warranted.
But before we push to clean house again, it might be time to take a holistic view of Texas football — what it is and what it can be.
While we don’t like to talk about it, this is an institutional problem. The Texas football program is fraudulent this year, sure, but a lot of disappointment this season is self-inflicted. It might be time to re-examine what this program can do and adjust expectations accordingly.
Fans act like it isn’t, but losing is in Texas’ nature. Since 1984, Texas has finished ranked just 18 times. Since the current crop of high school seniors turned 10, TCU has finished ranked twice as often as Texas.
When you look at the bluebloods of college football, Texas doesn’t break the threshold.
Two national championship appearances and a handful of 10-win seasons in the 2000s help mask decades of mediocrity and inflate fan expectations, but they can’t fully cover up what Texas has been since Darrell Royal left.
Even legendary coach Mack Brown — who experienced enough success at Texas (one championship) to earn himself a cushy, post-retirement, $500,000-per-year “assistant to the president” job on top of his buyout — only won two conference titles during his 16-year tenure.
If fans are going to hold coaches to the Texas standard, we must first figure out what the Texas standard is going to be.
It can’t be national championships — Texas has only one title since 1969. Conference championships aren’t really the standard, either. Texas has two Big 12 titles this millennium — on par with Baylor and closer to Oklahoma State than Oklahoma.
The realistic goal for Texas football is 10 wins a year. And with a shifting college football landscape that has the most talented in-state recruits looking to play elsewhere, that isn’t going to be easy anymore.
Per 247 Sports, Texas has only landed 16 of the 50 available top in-state recruits since 2013. Of those 16, seven signed with Texas coach Tom Herman in 2018 and are currently underclassmen.
That isn’t to say Herman deserves the benefit of the doubt, but ask yourself if expectations fall in line with reality. Chances are, they don’t.
Fans are angry. Players are upset. Recruits are panicking and coaches are checking lease terms.
I guess, in a way, that is more on par with Texas football than winning football games.