Tag Archives: Charlie Strong

Agree or Disagree With Tom Herman’s Sideline Mockery?

In case you missed it, Tom Herman created a bit of a stir at the end of the Longhorns’ 33-16 bowl game victory over Missouri. For this article to make sense, take a minute to watch this.

Now, to the casual college football fan, Herman looked completely immature and irresponsible as a head coach of a major university. I get that because he did.

I’m not going to make any excuses for Herman here because he’s got to be better in this situation. If you’re going to mock the opposing team in any way, do it behind closed doors so only your team can see it.

With that said, I have absolutely no problem with what Herman did. What the casual fan doesn’t know is that Missouri players had been mocking and trash talking to Texas players all week leading up to the game.

And then they committed the big no-no: flashing the horns down sign.

Here’s a video that surfaced to give the rest of this article even more context.

This is exactly why I have no problem with Herman’s mockery.

Opposing players, coaches and fans constantly mock Texas by throwing the horns down sign. Throwing the horns up sign signifies so much for the University of Texas, whether it’s celebrating after a big play, scoring a touchdown, singing the Eyes of Texas or anything else. When a person throws the horns down sign, they are mocking the player, coach, alumni and university as a whole.

And you know what? There’s never any outrage. In fact, I think I saw an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty thrown on an opposing team for the first time ever this year for doing it.

Why is it ok for other teams to throw their horns down with no backlash, but the Longhorns can’t mock an opposing player’s celebration? It’s complete crap is what it is.

Another reason why I’m ok with Herman’s mockery is that it shows he takes the horns down sign personally. Mack Brown did, but he handled the issue behind closed doors (like it should be). Charlie Strong didn’t respect the sign much and didn’t care if it was disrespected, in my opinion.

For the first time in a long time, I saw a coach and players get as upset and pissed off as I do when I see the horns down sign. Especially when it’s directed at me specifically. It takes quite a bit to make me mad, but there’s something about seeing the horns down sign that boils my blood every single time.

So when I saw the video of the Missouri players doing the horns down sign so freely and confidently, I was proud to see Herman and the Texas players on the sideline doing what they did. Probably the thing I’m most proud of after seeing the video is that the Texas players on the stage with those Missouri players didn’t light them up right there on the stage. If it were me, I would have had a hard time not going all-out Bobby Boucher on them as they were prancing around proudly with their horns down.

Unfortunately for Herman, he’s going to have to live with the social media backlash for a while. It will be talked about for a couple days and will definitely resurface throughout future football seasons, but it is what it is. But if he won over the locker room by doing it, then mission accomplished. And according to Breckyn Hager, he did:

Now if Herman makes this type of behavior the norm, then I’ll have a problem with it. But for a fragile program that has no self-pride in several years, I’m ok with it just this time.

My final point is for the people who say the team should act like they’ve been there before, in regards to winning. My rebuttal is this team has not been there before. They don’t know what winning feels like. Maybe this will give them a taste of winning, maybe it won’t. But for Herman, it’s a small price to pay to potentially elevate his program.

To recap:

Should Herman have done what he did? Probably not.

Is it the end of the world? Definitely not.

Should he make those antics a habit? Absolutely not.

Should Texas fans be embarrassed? Depends on your opinion, but embarrassment is not something that describes my feelings, obviously.

Do the Longhorns have a coach who genuinely takes pride in the University? You better believe it, and it was proven at the Texas Bowl.

And for the record, the Missouri quarterback whom Herman mocked understands the situation and has no problem with it:

Once Texas returns to their winning ways again, this will never be an issue with Herman or his players. I feel confident in saying that. The program just has to get to that point first.

Hook’em \m/

Photo: Wikimedia

E-mail Chase at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @chaseholik88.

Texas Is Back, Folks…

…to bowl eligibility! For the first time since the 2014 season, Charlie Strong’s first year at Texas, the Longhorns are eligible to participate in college football’s bowl season. While this should be an insignificant accomplishment, it is far from it at this point.

With Texas’ win on the road at West Virginia, the Longhorns now sit with a 6-5 record with one home game remaining against Texas Tech the day after Thanksgiving. A chance to win seven games in the regular season hasn’t happened since Mack Brown’s final year as head coach. Again, the standards should be higher at Texas, but this is something fans should celebrate as improvement.

I finally saw one of the most complete games of the season for the Longhorns in all three phases of the game against West Virginia. Shane Buechele started the game at quarterback and moved the ball somewhat efficiently, but the Longhorns didn’t get on the scoreboard until Sam Ehlinger came in and finished the game from the second quarter on.

But the real difference was in the running game. Texas had three players average more than 7.0 yards per carry on a combined 28 attempts among those three (Ehlinger, Daniel Young and Kyle Porter). The team ran for 233 total yards, which is about 100 yards over their season average.

The difference maker? The return of All-American Connor Williams at left tackle.

Combine Williams’ return with the emergence of a new H-back role for Chris Warren III, and the Longhorns running game actually looked like something a decent football team would have. It’s the first time this year that I actually saw some promise for the unit against a decent opponent, and it seemed like Tom Herman finally found an offensive line combination that can work for the rest of the year.

There are still plenty of issues to clean up, but this was a team that looked like they gained more confidence with nearly every snap.

And let’s talk about the defense for a bit. I wrote last week that Texas needed to have a good game from cornerback Kris Boyd to have a shot at winning. Fans who watched the game didn’t hear Boyd’s name called much on Saturday, which means he did his job. He held West Virginia’s best receiver to two catches for 47 yards. Bravo, Boyd! Now continue to play up to your potential like that on a weekly basis.

Now, what does getting to a bowl game mean for Texas? It means the team gets 15 additional practices after the conclusion of their season on Friday. The more organized repetitions you can get for Ehlinger and some of the other young playmakers, the better off the program will be in the future.

It’s really not about the bowl game they’ll be playing in or their opponent. We know it’s not going to be a great game, and it’s going to be against another mid-tier team in another conference. But that doesn’t mean it’s not important to win against Texas Tech and then go on to win the bowl game.

The prospects of winning eight games looked bleak just a couple weeks ago, but after pulling off the upset against West Virginia, it’s not out of the question now. Herman will be able to preach improvement all offseason long, players should have some newfound confidence and recruits will hopefully take notice.

Texas still has a long way to go to be considered “back” to national relevance, but qualifying for a bowl game is a big first step for a fragile program that has been struggling for years.

Photo: Pixabay

E-mail Chase at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @chaseholik88.

For Texas, There’s Still More Questions Than Answers

After almost every Texas game this season, I read about people bashing the offense on Twitter, the radio and everywhere else. Some people blame Tom Herman, some people blame offensive coordinator Tim Beck, and others blame the quarterback (whomever that is any given week).

It’s pretty clear the Longhorns have some serious problems offensively. But to place the blame entirely, or even partially, on one person is simply unfair.

First, Beck usually gets the brunt of the blame from fans, just because it’s easy to target the offensive play caller. But from what I’ve seen, I’m ok with what he’s done so far. Of course there are some questionable calls, but we see some different things happening. Adjustments are being made, but none of them work. I’ll tell you why in a bit.

Next is Tom Herman. Is Herman really the answer at Texas? I thought he was an offensive mastermind? Isn’t he the quarterback whisperer? These are the questions I’ve seen numerous times. And for those people, I say chill out and let this play out for more than one season before you make those judgments. And for the record, I always said the same things about Charlie Strong.

The next line of blame falls on the quarterback. Fans were excited about what Shane Buechele brought to the table last year, but he just can’t stay healthy. Then there was excitement with Sam Ehlinger, who got concussed and is now dealing with an inner ear issue. All I’m going to say about this point is the issue isn’t with the quarterback, folks.

Now I want to draw some parallels with you. Let’s flashback to last year at this point. Texas had a 5-4 record and had to win one of their last three games to save Charlie Strong’s job. That team was so fragile and incredibly mentally weak that they couldn’t do it, even when they knew they would lose their beloved coach if they didn’t.

This year, Texas is 4-5 and has to win two of their last three games to become bowl eligible. Again, some players are saying they are confident they can do it. But confidence and mental toughness are two different things.

The one question that has been answered most of the year is the mental state of the team. Even in some heartbreaking losses, the team never gave up as they did in past years. I was seeing a mentally stronger team, with the exception of the most recent game against TCU.

Another parallel to quickly touch on is the fact that Ehlinger went from the concussion protocol to having an inner ear issue. This sounds eerily similar to what David Ash dealt with in Charlie Strong’s first year. Forgetting about my fandom for a moment, I hope Ehlinger’s football career doesn’t end like Ash’s did.

Ok, back to Tim Beck and why his adjustments simply aren’t working no matter what he tries. I wrote all of these issues out in a paragraph, but then realized it’s worthy of a bulleted list because there are so many:

  • He doesn’t know who his quarterback is going to be on a weekly basis
  • He may not have had the same starting five on the offensive line in back-to-back weeks the entire season
  • The linemen he has to work with simply aren’t good, for the most part
  • He doesn’t have a running back he can rely on
  • He has plenty of talent at wide receiver, but none want to step up and stand out
  • The lack of a quality and experienced tight end has limited him
  • Some of these points have to do with injuries, while some of them have to do with poor recruiting efforts on offense by the previous coaching staff.

My main point is if you’re going to point your finger at Tim Beck or Tom Herman for this dumpster fire of an offense, then you haven’t been keeping up with this team much at all, and you’re taking the easy way out with the blame game.

Players have to be accountable too. Injuries play a big role in a struggling offense, but the last I checked, even the backups have a scholarship. And if a coach gave you a scholarship to play at the University of Texas, then you better be ready to step up when called on.

With any coaching change, there are going to be a ton of questions. It’s unfortunate that most of the questions to this point are still unanswered for Herman’s program. But with three games left, there’s one big question he needs to answer clearly.

If this team can find a way to beat Kansas, and then either West Virginia or Texas Tech to get to a bowl game, I would say the biggest question of the year had been answered. The team has been struggling mentally in games for years, but now they have a chance to finish strong and somewhat overcome their woes.

But if they can’t get the job done and finish 5-7 or worse, we will be asking even more questions at the end of the season.

E-mail Chase at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @chaseholik88.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Next Step For Texas: Eliminate Close Losses

Texas will never be a “moral victory” program, but it seems like that’s all we can get from the football team nowadays. In fact, it’s beginning to become predictable. Every time the Longhorns face a ranked opponent, they always have a chance to win the game, but find a unique and creative way to lose it.

How predictable is it? I wrote the majority of this article before Saturday’s game against Oklahoma State was even played, minus the details of the actual game, of course.

Tom Herman has to find a way to eliminate these close losses, or things could go south quickly for his program. For the record, I believe Herman is a much different coach than Charlie Strong, but you can’t argue with some of these numbers.

  • Texas lost three games by three points or less in the 2015 season.
  • Texas lost five games by seven points or less in the 2016 season.
  • And through seven games in 2017, Texas has lost three games by five points or less.

And to take it further on the opposite end, this team’s biggest loss under Herman so far is by ten points. Strong’s team lost by 20+ points nine times in three years. So am I saying the close losses are an acceptable trade-off for getting blown out? Not at all.

The most gut-wrenching thing about the close losses this season is the Longhorns held a lead against the #4, #12 and #10 ranked teams in the country in the fourth quarter.

So what can Texas and Herman do to convert these close losses into wins going forward? I don’t see a solution this year, unfortunately.

With a depleted offensive line, the offense is going to be limited all year. That unit may get a little better, but Sam Ehlinger is going to continue to run for his life every time he drops back to pass. It’s just the reality of the situation. A patchwork offensive line is exactly that…patchwork. It can’t be completely fixed in the course of a season, and it’s not going to be.

Not trying to be negative here, but I see what I see and I’m calling it as it is.

The defense has made an admirable turnaround since week one, and they may have turned in their best performance of the season against the top-ranked Oklahoma State offense. When you hold that team to just ten points in regulation, there’s no excuse to not win the game.

People can blame and criticize playcaller Tim Beck all they want, but the playcalling isn’t the issue. Just look at what Ehlinger is forced to do every play. The offense may be better off adopting a backyard football scheme and just have receivers run around everywhere until they get open. And forget about handing the ball off to a running back.

The good news is the brunt of the Big 12 schedule is over for the Longhorns. The hope of being in contention for the conference championship went out the window against Oklahoma State, and now the goal has been lessened to making a bowl game for the first time in two years.

When you look at how competitive this Texas team has been in big games, wins over teams like Baylor, Kansas and Texas Tech seem like a given. However, the confidence of this team is clearly shaken on offense, and could result in a loss in any game left on the schedule.

Until Texas figures out how to win a close game over a ranked opponent, we are going to see a lot more of what we did on Saturday. It had to be the most frustrating loss of the season for fans, simply because the result was predictable when the Longhorns held a slight lead in the fourth quarter.

In a way, it seems like the mindset of the players is similar to the mindset of the fans, or me at least. Instead of thinking how Texas could possibly pull off the upset, you can’t help but think how they are going to possibly lose the game after playing so well.

It’s the unfortunate state of the program right now, and it may not get any better until next season, at the earliest.

E-mail Chase at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @chaseholik88.

Photo: Flickr

Texas Fans: The Hype Could Be Real This Year

Let’s be honest, there’s a certain amount of hype that comes with being less than two weeks away from college football starting, no matter which team you are a fan of.

Your favorite team may have some flaws, but the reality is your team is 0-0. Just like Alabama. Just like Clemson. Just like Ohio State.

Hype is a good thing because it means there are expectations. If there were no hype, there’d be nothing to get excited about. And who doesn’t get excited about college football?

Now, I went on that mini-spiel because there are obvious reasons to be hyped up about this season if you are a fan of the Texas Longhorns. A new coach, recruiting momentum, a returning starting quarterback and a talented roster on paper all add up to high expectations.

But there’s hype surrounding every season. I’ve been saying for the last three years around this time that I haven’t been this excited about football in a long time. Whether it’s a new coach, a new quarterback, a new offense or whatever the situation was, the promise of change provided hope. We know how that all worked out.

I’ve decided not to buy into the hype this year, even though it can be extremely easy to buy into with all the burnt orange sunshine pumpers writing about and talking about the team. Instead, I’m going to take a realistic approach and explain why the hype could be real this year.

First, Tom Herman has won games everywhere he’s been as a coach. He simply knows how to win big games. But on the other hand, his teams historically lose a game or two that they shouldn’t.

Then consider the roster Herman has to work with. Charlie Strong’s 2015 recruiting class was considered one of the best in the country, and those players are now juniors. Seemingly every playmaker went through a sophomore slump last season, so if things align how they tend to in college football, those players could be in for breakout seasons. I’m talking about Malik Jefferson, Kris Boyd, Holton Hill, PJ Locke, Charles Omenihu and many more.

If you follow the team closely, you’ll recognize all those names play on the defensive side of the ball. That’s where I think a lot of hype should be placed. Todd Orlando had dialed up some impressive schemes in the past at Houston, which completely gobbled up the likes of Oklahoma and Louisville last season. If things click for the players I mentioned, and if the game slows down for them, Texas could have the best defense in the Big 12.

Now for the quarterback situation. For the first time in years, Texas has a healthy returning starting quarterback who deserves to be the starter. David Ash was capable, but often injured. Tyrone Swoopes was generally always healthy, but not a capable quarterback and was clearly out of position during his time at Texas.

Many people are saying if the offense doesn’t have an outstanding season, it’s going to be because Shane Buechele gets injured. Buechele has tons of weapons at receiver. Even though the running back position is shaky, his throwing accuracy should open the running game enough to make it respectable.

I always go back to something Charlie Strong said on his way out at Texas. He mentioned multiple times that this team is going to win 10 games in 2017 and a national championship within four years. He also said he baked the cake for the next coach to come in and have success right away.

I wouldn’t say that he baked the cake, but he provided the ingredients for Herman to have a successful season.

The only thing that will take time for this group is learning how to win. Only a handful of players in the locker room have experienced a winning season at Texas. They handled success poorly last year after beating Notre Dame and rising as high as 11th in the rankings. In summary, winning a big game isn’t enough. They have to validate the victory by beating the teams they should.

There’s been so much of a losing culture, that even beating USC and starting the season 3-0 won’t convince me that Texas is back to being relevant. Not until they prove they can take care of business on a consistent basis.

With all that said, I can understand the hype this year. And it wouldn’t surprise me if the hype all comes true. Winning 10 games is a definite possibility. I’m not predicting it to happen, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if it did.

The key missing ingredient to a 10-win season is learning how to handle success. For me, I’m not buying into the hype unless the team is 5-0 going into the Red River Rivalry.

But if that happens, then count me in on the hype train and I’ll be drinking all the burnt orange Kool-Aid the 40 acres can offer.

E-mail Chase at [email protected]pressbox.com and follow him on Twitter @chaseholik88.

Photo: Wikimedia

Signing Day Expectations for the Longhorns

The Charlie Strong era didn’t bring much success or excitement on the field, but he did make a lot of positive noise on signing day during his tenure. However, I’ve said before that Tom Herman is not in a position to have a great recruiting class for 2017, but it doesn’t mean he won’t be successful on the field in 2017 or beyond.

I never thought this class would crack the top 20 nationally, and I would still be surprised if it happened. But that doesn’t mean this won’t be a solid class.

Texas stole the headlines the last couple years by having handfuls of “silent commitments” just waiting to announce to the Longhorns on signing day. There aren’t many indications of that possibly happening this year, so this is what we know:

Texas currently has 15 players committed to the 2017 class. Realistically, there are only six other players they are targeting with a chance of signing with the Longhorns. If they happen to land all of them, I think they will have a top-20 class. But that’s not going to happen, in my opinion.

The biggest name fans need to be watching for is K’Lavon Chaisson. He’s a monster defensive end who will be choosing between Texas and LSU on signing day. He’s the best target remaining for Texas and would fill a position of need immediately. My gut is he will sign with Texas, but it’s a long 48 hours and anything can happen between now and then.

Of the handful or so of targets outside of Chaisson, I’m expecting Jordan Pouncey, Sam Cosmi, Stephan Zabie and Ryan Johnson to sign with Texas on national signing day. Each of these players recently took official visits to Texas recently, so there’s a good sense that these guys will sign with the Longhorns.

Out of those names, there aren’t really any that will get national attention. They are solid high school players, but most will require a good amount of developing and won’t contribute right away.

So since Chaisson is really the only player who could put the Longhorns on the map on signing day, let’s focus more on the currently committed players in the class who could make an impact immediately.

Sam Ehlinger is a name most Texas fans have heard of. He was the star quarterback just down the road at Westlake High School and has already enrolled at Texas. He’s a name to watch as being the quarterback of the future, but if he plays this year, it will mean something went terribly wrong with the current quarterback situation. Anything is possible if you’ve followed this team for the last several years.

Gary Johnson recently committed to Texas over dozens of schools as the third-ranked junior college player in the country. He plays inside linebacker, which is a critical need for the Longhorns. Malik Jefferson has occupied that spot over the last two years, but it isn’t his natural position. Johnson should be able to come in and contribute right away, meaning Jefferson can play his natural spot at outside linebacker and rush the quarterback more.

Taquon Graham is another guy Texas needs to hold onto. Oklahoma and TCU are also in the mix for the current Texas commit, and it would be tough losing him on signing day. Graham is another defensive end who could play right away and give the defense some quality depth.

Finally, Toneil Carter is a running back who has the speed and agility to fit in Herman’s offense. However, he could also benefit from a redshirt year, depending on if Kirk Johnson (current Texas running back) can stay healthy.

For the most part, this recruiting class for Texas is going to have time to develop. There might be a handful of players from the class who play in 2017, while the rest will redshirt.

This is just a testament to the recruiting efforts of Charlie Strong, since most of the pieces are in place for experienced players on the two-deep depth chart. If more than a handful of the players in this class play meaningful snaps, then I would expect the season to be another disaster due to injuries or players underachieving.

So to recap: Texas isn’t going to make a lot of noise on Wednesday, and that’s ok. If you hear K’Lavon Chaisson call the Longhorns out on TV and put on the burnt orange hat, then the recruiting class should be considered a success, considering the other circumstances around the program now.

Don’t read too much about Herman’s inability to recruit, which will likely come out somewhere, because he’s already paving the way for a stellar 2018 class.

E-mail Chase at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @chaseholik88.

Photo: Wikimedia

The Good, Bad and Ugly for Texas Football in 2016

Believe it or not, there actually were some good things that happened in the Texas football program in 2016. But let’s face it, there were a lot more bad and ugly things to make last year forgettable.

I’m all for looking to the future, but I think we have to acknowledge what has happened in the past before we can appreciate what could happen in 2017.

As hard as it may be to read, here are some of the good, bad and ugly things that happened with Texas football in 2016.

Good

Signed a Top-11 Recruiting Class

Following a 5-7 season in 2015, Charlie Strong didn’t slow down on the recruiting trail. After making some national noise on signing day in February, the Longhorns had all the momentum they could ask for after a putrid season. This could arguably be the best class Strong signed at Texas and we will be hearing those names called early and often in the future.

Freshman QB Won the Job and Played Well

Shane Buechele took the reigns from Tyrone Swoopes and never looked back. Longhorns fans needed something to be excited about and they got it with Buechele. For a freshman quarterback on a bad team, Buechele was one of the few bright spots in 2016.

Win Against Notre Dame

Texas is back? Not so fast, my friend! I didn’t think Texas was back after that game and was proven to be correct. However, that doesn’t take away from the excitement and thrill of the double-overtime victory over the Fighting Irish. In a season of forgettable moments, Texas fans will remember that game for a long time.

D’Onta Foreman

Foreman had a record-setting season for a Texas running back, highlighted by 11 straight 100-yard rushing games and surpassing 2,000 total rushing yards. Without Foreman, this team may have only won three games. Texas hasn’t had a reliable running back since Jamaal Charles back in 2007, but Foreman etched his name on the list of elite Texas running backs in 2016.

Bad

Unnecessary Quarterback Drama

Buechele was a bright spot at quarterback, but how the situation was handled publicly was just bad. Strong seemed to enjoy stringing Texas fans along for some sick reason, but the quarterback drama was unnecessary. It was clear in the spring who the quarterback was going to be.

Kent Perkins’ DWI Arrest

Perkins fell asleep in the drive-thru line at a fast-food restaurant. An officer woke him up, he drove off and crashed his car about 10 seconds later. Yeah, that happened.

Bedford Demoted

Defense was terrible most of the season, but especially when Vance Bedford was calling the shots. Strong eventually had to demote Bedford after a terrible performance against Oklahoma State the fourth games of the season. It was a decision that should have been made much earlier, but with the way Strong handled decisions like that during his tenure, it’s not surprising it took so long.

Sophomore Slumps

The best players on the team were supposed to be sophomores in 2016. Instead, the team was filled with talented sophomores all going through slumps at the same time. It’s not uncommon for college athletes to hit their sophomore slump, but man, almost every Texas sophomore went through it. Brutal, just brutal.

Ugly

Kansas

Enough said.

Gilberts Digression Calling Plays

Sterlin Gilbert looked like a genius the first half of the season. But then it seemed like the only plays he called were runs up the middle by Foreman and quick out passes for Buechele. Gilbert left a lot to be desired with the amount of talent he had to work with.

Media Circus Around Strong’s Firing

Strong got fired after Kansas. No he didn’t. Wait, yes he did, but UT doesn’t want to announce it yet. Now they’re giving him the option of when he wants to be fired. But he could save his job with a win over TCU. The players may boycott the TCU game because of the rumors. OK, Strong convinced them to play the game. But they arguably still didn’t show up. Now Strong is really fired.

See what I mean? An absolute circus caused by a certain regent who feels the need to leak information to the media to get his way. And it does nothing but embarrass the program along the way. Thankfully the TCU game ended the way it did so there was no doubt as to what had to happen after 5-7.

So there you have it. The 2016 Longhorns football program in a nutshell. I apologize to the Longhorns fans who read this and cringed at the painful memories. But if it’s any consolation, just think about how difficult it was to write!

Here’s to a completely forgettable 2016 and to a 2017 that really can’t get any worse!

E-mail Chase at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @chaseholik88.

Photo Credit: Ramdlon, Pixabay

Tom Herman is Set Up to Win Immediately

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

Tom Herman’s Success at Texas Depends on Alignment

During Tom Herman’s introductory press conference as the new Texas head coach, he mentioned the word alignment as being a top factor in getting the program back to the top. But what exactly does he mean by “alignment.”

Before we can fully understand what has to happen during the Herman era, we have to determine what went wrong during the Charlie Strong era. Strong did some great things for Texas in terms of developing his players to be good people and representing the university well. However, those values didn’t align on the field.

Strong’s players were some of the most disciplined guys in the program when compared to at least the last decade, but that discipline didn’t align with the product on Saturdays.

Even the decision to hire Strong wasn’t in alignment because several boosters didn’t want him and the former athletic director, Steve Patterson, was unwilling to honor many requests made by Strong to help his team succeed.

In other words, the alignment was terribly off the mark from the beginning.

It’s interesting that Herman made it clear that being aligned will be critical for the program’s success in the future, since it’s been obviously missing recently.

Alignment is something Herman learned from Urban Meyer during his days as the offensive coordinator at Ohio State. It simply means the entire program has to have the same expectations, the same goals and the same message has to resonate from top to bottom.

The tiniest details that Herman has spoken about since he’s been hired just show how much he pays attention to them. He recently said in a local radio interview that the most important coach on his staff is the strength and conditioning coach. I found that to be a bit random at first.

But what I didn’t know is that the strength and conditioning coach can actually spend more time with the players than Herman himself. The S&C coach is responsible for making sure the players are on the same page and that the right culture is created within the program. In other words, he is mainly responsible for the alignment of the players.

It’s clear now why Herman isn’t trying to pick away big-name coaches from other schools to bring to his staff at Texas. His Houston staff was clearly aligned with what he wanted to accomplish there, so time will tell whether that will translate to Austin.

And most importantly, Herman understands that he needs to have the boosters, fans and everyone else associated with the program on the same page. He knows he’s going to have to shake a lot of hands at this job, and he’s willing to do it because he knows it will keep the peace. You could argue that that was one of Strong’s biggest downfalls at Texas. The job outside of the football field just seemed to be too big for him at times.

Herman recently met with some of the key players on the Texas team to discuss his concept of alignment. He’s not shy about saying the program is going to be unfathomably hard at first, so making sure the key guys are on the same page is critical.

There are going to be some transfers. It happens any time there’s a coaching change. But Herman’s point in meeting with only a handful of players is to ensure he has guys he can rely on to pick up other players when they start to get misaligned for any reason.

It’s going to be hard for Herman to get everyone on the same page. The BB’s have been out of the box for several years at Texas, and it’s going to be impossible for him to put them back in the box in one offseason.

Charlie Strong has built a foundation of talent on the field that Herman can take advantage of. Now it’s Herman’s job to create a new foundation built on his alignment concept on and off the field.

To use his own words, it’s going to be unfathomably hard for Herman to get the players on the same page. They’re used to doing things one way and the transition is going to be difficult.

But once his alignment concept hits home with the players, staff, administration and everyone who touches the Texas program, look out for the Longhorns.

E-mail Chase at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @chaseholik88.

Photo: Alan O’Rourke, Flickr

Tom Herman will be in Over His Head at Texas

Tom Herman is the new head football coach at the University of Texas. For most people, this is a match made in heaven. Campus Pressbox’s own Chase Holik is one of those people who is showering Texas with unapologetic praise for the hire.

I’m here to tell Chase and the rest of the Tom Herman fan club to slow down.

In hiring Herman, I feel like we’ve witnessed this kind of enthusiasm about a previous Texas head coaching hire. Remember when Charlie Strong was hired in 2014? I do. And Strong was the hot, unproven coaching commodity in 2014 just as Herman is now. Even though the perception is that Herman and Strong are nothing like, let’s compare the two at comparable points in their careers.

Prior to accepting the Texas job, Strong boasted an impressive resume. He spent time as an assistant coach at high profile schools like Florida and Notre Dame. He was a position coach for Lou Holtz at Notre Dame and was the defensive coordinator for Florida’s 2006 and 2008 national championship teams. He turned his success as an assistant coach into a head coaching opportunity at Louisville.

In 2010, Strong took over a Louisville program that had gone 15-21 under Steve Kragthorpe. Strong took that struggling program and, through recruiting players like Teddy Bridgewater, went 37-15. In his four seasons at Louisville, Strong turned the Cardinals back into winners. His tenure was highlighted by a Sugar Bowl victory over Florida. His reward for rebuilding Louisville was being tapped to do the same at Texas. Texas was coming off of an 8-5 season under Mack Brown. Times were tough in Austin when Strong took over.

The state of the Longhorn program is important to remember when assessing Strong’s record at Texas. He was having to rebuild the program both inside and out.

Herman and Strong’s rise to coaching prominence is similar. Herman’s claim to fame was the success Ohio State had during his time as offensive coordinator. He is credited with being the architect of the Buckeye offense that won the 2014 national championship. Herman used this accomplishment to gain his first head coaching job at Houston.

Herman then took over a Houston program that had fallen on hard times under head coach Tony Levine. Levine went 21-17 at Houston prior to Herman taking over. Like Strong did at Louisville, Herman brought Houston back to national prominence. Herman went 22-4 at Houston and the highlight was beating Florida State in the 2015 Peach Bowl.

The similarities between Herman and Strong not only include impressive resumes as assistant coaches but also includes success as mid-major head coaches. But the decision made by the Texas administration to hire Herman is based on the idea that Herman is completely different than Strong. Texas is wrong. Herman and Strong are more similar on the field than anyone at Texas cares to admit.

Herman knows football. There’s no question about that. When it comes right down to it, so does Strong. But there’s more to succeeding at Texas than just knowing football. Coaching at Texas also means living inside a vast political machine that includes overbearing boosters and a savage Austin sports media cabal. And that is what I doubt Herman is prepared to manage. Strong was over his head and my best guess is that Herman will also be in over his head.

Texas would have been better off hiring an experienced head coach. Sorry, but Herman’s two years at Houston just doesn’t cut it. Herman couldn’t handle a bit of friction with Nick Wright and John Lopez. Keep in mind that this happened while Herman was winning at Houston. What will he do if he falls on hard times at Texas and the Austin media rip into him? Wright and Lopez aren’t Kirk Bohls and Chip Brown. I’ll wish Herman good luck right now if he rubs either of those Austin sports media legends the wrong way.

Being the head coach at Louisville was different than being in charge of the Longhorns. And being in charge at Houston is different than being the head coach at Texas. It’s not so much about football knowledge as it is the ability to maneuver through a 24-hour labyrinth of media and booster scrutiny.

There will be no honeymoon period for Herman just as there wasn’t for Strong. Herman may have had the head coaching pedigree to handle a job as big as Texas down the road, but I don’t believe that day is today.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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