It's no secret that Texas is still in a downswing that began under Mack Brown and has continued into the early stages of Charlie Strong's tenure as the Longhorns' lead man. But while explanations and excuses for the state of Texas football abound, coaches of Texas foes are pointing the finger squarely at Brown, not Strong.
That's the tale those coaches are telling Thayer Evans and Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated's Campus Rush for their latest Inside Read column, in a wide-ranging piece that faults Brown for both a stunning lack of talent at Texas and a pervasive attitude of entitlement.
And with the guise of semi-anonymity — Evans and Thamel say they're quoting "numerous coaches who have faced Texas this season and are familiar with the Longhorns" — they're being quite clear about their assessements.
"In two years, Charlie could not have f----- that place up," a coach tells The Inside Read. "It was already f----- up before."
The latter was clear by the time Brown's 16-year tenure at Texas had puttered to mediocrity when he left at the end of the 2013 season. The Longhorns were never the same after their loss to Alabama in the 2009 national championship game and declined with every additional year Brown was allowed to stay.
"Mack knew the s--- going on, he just didn't want to own up to it," another coach says. "He knows what he left."
The coaches point to a number of Texas freshmen and sophomores — from Kris Boyd to Connor Williams — as a bright future for Texas. One coach says the Longhorns freshmen are "balling their a---- off," while "the upperclassmen are killing everything." And the dearth of great talent in Austin is apparently so bad that NFL scouts are now joking about it.
Neither is the void of talent among the upperclassmen. It's so bad that the Longhorns' have become a punch line among NFL scouts, who joke they now make the trip to Austin for Sixth Street instead of The Forty Acres.
But one of the core weaknesses about this 2015 Texas team seems to be the lack of leadership, which has helped produce dispiriting losses and a locker room that seemingly cannot avoid turmoil. One coach distills the ramifications of a vacuum of leaders as colorfully as possible:
"(Texas) doesn't have any dogs," one of the coaches says. "They don't have anyone that will stand up and say, 'F--- this bull----, let's go kick these f------' a--."
And perhaps that's partly Strong's fault, for not empowering the upperclassmen he inherited and the underclassmen he recruited to be leaders. But the coaches speaking to Evans and Thamel — perhaps including ones at Big 12 rivals Oklahoma State and TCU, who would seem to have far more to gain from noting the conference's dormant superpower is still poorly-coached than from facetiously praising the man in charge of it as part of some long con — seem mostly laudatory of the job Strong has done, with the reporters even writing "many coaches still can't believe Strong was able to will the Longhorns to a 6-7 record last season."
Given a chance to play politics, those coaches chose truth. And it's crystal clear that those coaches — who see more, talk more, and know more about locker rooms, even their opponents', than virtually anyone else in the college football ecosystem — feel that the lion's share of the blame for this Texas plight should fall at the feet of Mack Brown.