In 2017, during Tom Herman’s debut season on the Forty Acres, the Texas Longhorns won seven games, but they almost won several more, had it not been for losses to No. 4 USC, No. 12 Oklahoma, No. 10 Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech by a combined 15 points.
Almost 11-1, but not quite.
Last season, Texas pieced together its most successful showing since the Colt McCoy era, finishing at 10-4, despite the three losses to Maryland, Oklahoma State, and No. 13 West Virginia by a mere eight points.
Texas almost became a College Football Playoff contender, but they didn’t.
Tom Herman isn’t a fan of that word — almost.
“We don’t take days off. It’s 4th and inches every time you walk in the doors of that building. There’s no almost,” Herman said during Big 12 Media Days.
“’I was almost hydrated.’ That means you were dehydrated. We live in a zero-sum business,” Herman added. “It’s like sales: ‘Well I almost made my quota.’ Guess what that means? You didn’t make your quota. ‘We almost won the game or we should have won the game.’ You know what that means? You didn’t win the game... You either did it or you didn’t. You’re plus or minus. That’s it.”
If almost equated into wins, the previous two seasons would have provided Texas with a remarkable 24-3 record, rather than the 17-10 mark on Herman’s résumé entering Year 3.
In the minds of the masses and the media, Texas would be back, rather than almost or on its way back.
With what Herman is aiming to build in Austin — a sustainable championship culture — almost isn’t enough, and it never will be. That, of course, makes his test of restoring Texas to that elite status much, much taller when something as simple as a failed hydration test or slowing down on a rep a split second too soon could quite easily be swept under the rug.
But if Herman allowed that to be the case, the mantle in his office would never feature a championship trophy.
“It is exhausting as coaches to be that thorough on your details and consistent with your follow through of them, but it is also necessary,” Herman said. “That’s why there’s only one national champion at the end of the season and why there’s only been a few [teams] in the past decade.”