Tom Herman is entering his first season as the Texas football head coach with the cupboard stocked with more talent than he could ask for.
Charlie Strong had his own flaws with game management and getting his players in the right position on game days, but no one can deny the fact that the man can recruit. Even after two straight losing seasons to start his tenure at Texas, he managed to claim two top-ten recruiting classes nationally.
The majority of the starters last season were freshmen and sophomores, meaning those guys will be experienced sophomores and juniors when the 2017 season starts. In other words, Herman doesn’t have to start over from scratch.
With that being said, there’s going to be some attrition this offseason and into the spring. Players always transfer when there’s a change with the coaching staff, and I don’t expect this to be any different. Different philosophies on offense or defense could be the reason for transferring, or they just could be afraid of having to compete for their starting spot again. Regardless of the reason, transfers have to be embraced. If a player doesn’t want to be here, then fans and coaches shouldn’t want him here.
I don’t expect the top players on the team to move on, though. These guys loved Charlie Strong and didn’t want him to leave. What better way to honor him than by going out and winning 10-11 games next season?
After reading some of the player chatter on Twitter and other places, I believe that’s going to be their attitude. The only difference will be Herman’s game management abilities and the intense attention to detail that will set the players up for success.
The biggest challenge for Herman in year one will be removing the entitlement factor. These players were highly recruited, but some of them have admitted they stopped putting in as much work once they got to Texas. They thought everything would be handed to them. But the only things handed to them were complete whippings on the field on Saturdays.
That has to change under Herman, and it will. He runs a program built on meritocracy, meaning you have to earn everything given to you. Just because a player started every game last year doesn’t mean he’s going to next year. And when you win a starting job, you have to continue to earn it throughout the season, or you’ll be put on the bench.
We saw a little of that under Strong, but I expect it to be way more intense under Herman in year one. He’s made it a point on numerous occasions to say that this isn’t going to be “camp Texas.” It’s going to be hard and players are going to want to quit. And I get the sense that he doesn’t care if some players quit. If they can’t handle his program, then it’s best for both parties to move on.
But what could happen if the key players on the team buy into his system from the beginning and bring everyone else with them? Texas could end up being the team with the biggest turnaround from one year to the next.
Charlie Strong even said midway through the season that this team will win 10 games in 2017, regardless of who the coach is. He could have just been saying that to make his case for staying another year, but I think he truly believes it.
There’s enough talent on the 40 Acres to win 10 games. Herman has proven to be able to work with the talent given to him, and he’s not afraid to go out and find some transfers to fill in any voids.
Charlie Strong came to Texas with an empty cupboard of talent. He stocked the cupboard immensely during his three years. Now Herman gets to enjoy the fruits of Strong’s labor.
He’s been handed a fully baked cake, and all he has to do is put the icing on it. If he can figure out how to ice the cake this offseason, Texas will see instant success and win early and often in 2017.
E-mail Chase at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @chaseholik88.
Photo: BlazerMan, Flickr