Tag Archives: Texas football

If Preseason Honors Mean Anything, Texas Will Be In Good Shape In 2017

Before I get started here, you can count me in the group of people who don’t get excited about preseason polls, rankings or honors. In fact, I don’t believe teams should be ranked until at least week eight, when there is a decent sample size to look at. But I do understand it all has to exist for entertainment purposes.

Now, the Big 12 recently released its preseason poll and handed out individual preseason honors. Something doesn’t quite match up with these, in my opinion.

Texas is picked to finish fourth in the conference. That’s not completely off the wall, and it’s probably going to be pretty close to where they actually finish. But what doesn’t add up is that the Longhorns have five individuals on the preseason All-Big 12 team. Five!

Oklahoma, picked to win the conference, also has five. So how is that possible?

These are the same players coming back from a 5-7 campaign in 2016. And three of the players on the list play defense, which was one of the worst in school history last year.

Poona Ford and Malcolm Roach were All-Big 12 honorable mention last year, and Malik Jefferson didn’t even make that list. But they are seen obviously seen as some of the best players in the conference in the eyes of the media.

I just find it funny that anyone who follows the Texas program isn’t worried about the offense under Tom Herman. Yet, Connor Williams is the only offensive player who made the All-Big 12 preseason team, and deservedly so.

The defense is a big concern yet again this year, but they have three All-Big 12 preseason team members. To me, this just shows the tremendous job of recruiting Charlie Strong did, but also the awful job of coaching he did.

And just for the record, the fifth player is punter Michael Dickson, who could end up being the best punter in the country by the end of the season.

All I’ve got to say is if the Longhorns land five players on the All-Big 12 team at the end of the season, they are going to finish higher than fourth in the standings.

It wouldn’t surprise me if five players were honored at the end of the year, but there’s going to have to be two or three offensive players instead of one. Without offense in the Big 12, you aren’t going to make it.

If I had to make my prediction for preseason All-Big 12 members for Texas, I would have Connor Williams, Michael Dickson, Collin Johnson, Shane Buechele and Malcolm Roach. These are just based on what I’ve seen from them in their careers up to this point. But again, I have no clue how they worked out this offseason and if they’re even mentally prepared to go through Herman’s fall camp.

I would leave off Poona Ford and Malik Jefferson from my list, simply because I haven’t seen enough from them. That’s not saying those guys may not reach that point by the end of this season, but I go by what I see, not what I think could happen.

It’s not very often that you have five players on a list like this after going 5-7 in the previous season. The good news is Texas is returning most of their starters. But the bad news is Texas is returning most of their starters. How much could they really have improved in one offseason? Does the coaching really matter that much?

That’s where we will see what Herman and his staff are really made of. And we will see it early on.

The media isn’t giving Herman the benefit of the doubt by picking the Longhorns fourth behind Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Kansas State. But realistically, no 5-7 team should be picked higher than about sixth in the conference.

But by selecting five members from the team to the preseason All-Big 12 team, the media acknowledges the talent on the roster.

Preseason polls are meaningless in every way imaginable. But if this year’s poll ends up being somewhat accurate, the Longhorns will be in for a major turnaround from 5-7.

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

Photo: Wikimedia

Tom Herman Has Some Explaining To Do

Tom Herman has pushed all the right buttons since he was hired as the Longhorns head football coach back in November. From assembling his staff the right way, to hitting the recruiting trail hard, to meeting with prominent boosters and parents of the current players, he seems to understand what it takes to be the man at Texas.

But one of his most recent hires is a complete head scratcher and he needs to address it very soon. In case you missed it, Herman hired Casey Horny to be his Special Teams Quality Control Assistant. No problem there. We knew Herman was going to create a lot of new jobs in the football offices, so this just seemed like another one of them. Plus, Herman has known Horny for over a decade and trusts him as a person and as an employee.

However, there’s just one thing that sticks out with me.

Casey Horny has been very apologetic and supportive of Baylor University, and specifically Art Briles, for the rape cover-up scandal that has been going on there for years.

That’s not ok.

Horny was very vocal on Twitter about his support for Briles, and even using the hashtag #TruthDontLie as recently as November. This was the hashtag that the Baylor coaches, players and fans used throughout the nonstop reports about the sickening scandal over the past year or so.

Even with all of the evidence, reports and eventual cleaning house at Baylor, Horny obviously refused to believe the allegations when the rest of the country is sickened by them.

It’s also suspicious that almost immediately when Horny was hired at Texas, those tweets supporting Briles started disappearing. He didn’t want people to read through his tweet history and see the ridiculousness, so he thought he could hide behind them and just delete the tweets. But he wasn’t quick enough.

Even Chuck F’n Strong, the comical fake Twitter account for Charlie Strong, rose from the dead and had something to say about the hire:

Now, I hope we can trust Herman enough to have done a diligent background search on this guy to make sure he wasn’t involved in any of the cover-up process at Baylor. Based on his role on the staff, I highly doubt he was directly involved. But it doesn’t matter.

I don’t care if you had nothing to do with the scandal, you still don’t publicly support a man who should be in jail for covering up multiple rapes by football players on innocent female students at Baylor University. In fact, if you have any morals at all, you find a new job as soon as possible.

But Horny chose to continue to be supportive of Briles, which to me means he is supportive of covering up rape. He doesn’t belong at my school for that reason alone.

Herman probably did his homework on Horny, but he forgot to complete one assignment. He can’t just sit back and hope it goes away. That’s what Briles did.

The Texas administration is supposedly mute on the subject as well, since multiple local media outlets have attempted to reach them for comment, and they haven’t gotten a response. Silence is deafening. It means they know they did something wrong.

Herman has been proactive up to this point about other things, and he needs to be again. I honestly don’t know what he can say to help the situation, but simply acknowledging the negativity surrounding the hire shows that he cares and understands why people are upset.

In today’s society, public perception shapes who you are as a person. That’s why Horny’s name is tarnished. That’s why Herman’s name took a hit by hiring Horny.

Herman may not ever say anything about this hire on his own. But you can bet he will be asked about it. The next scheduled press conference with Herman will be in a couple weeks on National Signing Day. If Herman doesn’t want to answer questions about it then, then he better address it earlier.

I hope this isn’t the first red flag of the Herman era. I hope he doesn’t take the “win at all costs” approach.

Hiring an Art Briles apologist rubs me the wrong way, and I think many Texas fans think the same way. Horny doesn’t belong at Texas, and Herman needs to do something about it. In fact, someone even started an online petition to get him off campus.

Horny may fall under the alignment that Herman is looking for with his staff because of their past history, but Horny’s values don’t align with the values upheld at the University of Texas.

You’re better than that, Herman.

You’re better than that, Texas administration, and shouldn’t have allowed this to happen in the first place.

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

What Do Longhorns Fans Want For Christmas?

Nowadays, most Texas fans aren’t very greedy when it comes to what they want from their program. With volleyball, swimming and diving and men’s golf being the only successful programs in the last half-decade or so, the bar has been set pretty low. But this is the time of year to make a wish list and ask for what you want.

Now let me say this list could be extremely long, but I tried to sum it up in just a few points as it relates to the feelings of the majority of Longhorn nation.

A Permanent Athletic Director

Ever since Steve Patterson was fired about a year and a half ago, Mike Perrin has been the leader of the athletic department on an interim basis. He’s done a good job behind the scenes by most accounts, but he’s definitely shown his lack of AD experience when it comes to the things fans care about most.

Perrin completely botched the baseball head coach search. He may or may not have negotiating power with the coaches. The president doesn’t necessarily trust him to make big decisions. These are just some of the issues making fans question his leadership abilities now and going forward.

I think Perrin could be a good AD, so just make him the permanent one! I honestly don’t have a list of people whom I would want as the AD, but I just want one for the long-term. Until it happens, the stability needed for an already fragile program will be non-existent.

A Decent Recruiting Class

Tom Herman may have a roster full of experienced players, but he doesn’t have a leg up on recruiting for 2017 just yet. He’s already making some waves around the state of Texas, but has to play catch-up with a lot of the big-name recruits since he’s coming in so late in the game.

I don’t need to see a top-10 or top-15 recruiting class when it’s all said and done. In fact, that may not even be possible due to the limited amount of scholarships Herman has to offer. A class of 20-21 players is about all we can expect when the first Wednesday in February rolls around for national signing day. As long as Herman lands the players needed most, then we can’t ask for much more this year.

THE Quarterback

Shane Buechele put on a display last year that we haven’t in Austin since the Colt McCoy era. He put up some impressive numbers and showed a lot of poise as a freshman, but he may actually not be the best fit in Herman’s offense. He has the experience factor going for him to help his case to be the starter going forward, though.

Sam Ehlinger is enrolling in January, just like Buechele did last year, so don’t count him out. Ehlinger probably needs to redshirt, in my opinion, so I think Herman will have to look at other options for depth.

Does that mean Jerrod Heard moves back to quarterback? Or does Herman go the JUCO route or pursue a graduate transfer to compete for the job?

It’s possible the Longhorns quarterback for 2017 isn’t even on campus yet. For me, it’s not a matter of who is behind center. As long as it’s clear that he is THE guy, then we won’t have to deal with yet another offseason full of drama regarding the quarterback position.

Stability Within the Program

Considering how smooth the transition went from firing Charlie Strong to hiring Tom Herman, it appears stability may be on the way. Of course, a permanent Athletic Director would put a stamp on it, but there have been larger issues than just that.

It seems like everyone from the fans, regents, boosters and even the student athletes are on the same page with bringing Herman on board. There isn’t any animosity toward him right now, and he can basically ask for anything he wants and he will get it.

Let’s just avoid some media embarrassments causing national reporters to refer to our program as a “cesspool”, how about it?

More Than Just a Few Wins

Winning cures everything. Losing magnifies even the tiniest issues. Herman doesn’t have to win the conference championship in his first year. Getting to a bowl game would already be an improvement, but the standard has to be set higher.

If all of the other points I made from my wish list come true, then I think the wins will come more naturally. On the other hand, winning games will make my points not seem like a big deal at all.

I believe most Texas fans would agree with this list, but what else would YOU want from the program for Christmas and in 2017?

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

Photo: Randall Chancellor, Flickr

How Bad Was Texas This Year? Just Look at the Bowl Schedule

I normally don’t like looking in the past when there’s nothing good to look at back there. But for the past couple years at this time, I’m reminded about how bad the Longhorns really have been. This year may be the worst yet.

As I filled out my picks for a bowl pick ’em contest the other day, I found it extremely disturbing that I had to think about the winner between Old Dominion and Eastern Michigan, but didn’t have Texas anywhere on the schedule. No disrespect to either of those programs, but I honestly didn’t know Old Dominion even had a football program.

I mean, even schools like UTSA, New Mexico and Idaho won enough games to qualify for a bowl. The fact that Texas couldn’t even win six games to make a bowl just shows it was time to make a change in leadership.

Of course, there are a lot of other high profile teams who didn’t make bowl games this year as well. Michigan State, Oregon, UCLA, Notre Dame and Ole Miss are some notable ones to miss out on the action this year, along with the Longhorns.

I’ve always been a supporter of some of the things Charlie Strong did at Texas. I even recently wrote about him having the cake baked, with Tom Herman just needing to put the icing on for a potential 10-win season. But after looking at the bowl schedule and not seeing Texas on it again, I’m rethinking my stance a bit.

I would argue that Strong started putting the ingredients together for the cake, but hasn’t even put the batter in the oven yet. It’s a start, but we don’t even know if the right ingredients are mixed together yet.

I think there’s enough talent on the roster currently to win 10 games next season, but really, that prediction is solely on recruiting rankings. You can’t expect to go from a five-win team to a 10-win team in one season without a lot of changes happening. If this past year’s issue was truly a coaching issue, then it wouldn’t surprise me if Texas approached 10 wins with Tom Herman calling the shots. But what really makes people think that will be the case?

These current players have a severe lack of confidence when adversity strikes on the field. The team as a whole has plenty of confidence off the field and on Twitter, but we all know how that has worked out for them recently.

My point is you can’t proclaim yourself to be a 10-win team when you’ve won a total of 10 games the past two seasons. Let’s talk about qualifying for even the trashiest bowl game before we start that discussion. Major turnarounds can happen, but talking about being great won’t do any good unless you put in the work to be great. That’s been the biggest issue with the current players, so I’ll have to see it before I believe it.

Tom Herman will have to remove any sense of entitlement from these players before anyone touches the field in the spring. Otherwise, he will be facing an uphill battle the entire way. These kids listen to the talk shows and read the social media posts about how great they could be. It’s always good to look ahead and think optimistically, but it also goes to the point of talking too much without putting the work in.

That is a big reason why the 2016 season was a complete failure. The minimum amount of wins was supposed to be eight. And when the Longhorns beat Notre Dame, the expectations went to nine or ten wins.

Instead, the Longhorns are sitting at home watching Ohio play against Troy and talking about how good they’ll be next year. Expectations can be set at whatever levels the media and fans want them to be, but the reality is this is a five-win team. And until the team eclipses that point and shows some consistency, there’s no sense in wasting any breath talking about how good they can be.

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

Photo: Wikimedia

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 and Texas Are a Perfect Match

A new era of Texas football has begun as the Longhorns won the Tom Herman sweepstakes.

After yet another disappointing and embarrassing performance the day after Thanksgiving, Texas officials decided to officially part ways with head coach Charlie Strong. And there’s no doubt it was the right decision.

So why do I think Herman is a perfect match for Texas?

Herman’s hire came with hardly any backlash from the media, boosters, regents or anyone associated with the Texas program. This is a big difference from the Charlie Strong hire, where the fan base was divided and the comments made about Strong were mostly negative. As a result, he seemingly never had support from the beginning.

When you’re dealing with a program like Texas, having unified support from the administration to the fans goes a long way. Mack Brown had that unified support when he was hired in 1998. Charlie Strong did not have that support in 2013. Herman has it, so that’s a start.

Brown took over a program in disarray back in 1998. He was told by the great Darrell Royal that he had to get the BB’s back in the box. The BB’s signified the program as a whole, from the most loyal fans all the way to the influential regents who make decisions. When the BB’s were all in the box, the program succeeded. When the BB’s got out of the box, the program was in disarray.

Right now, the BB’s are out of the box. It’s Herman’s job to put them back in.

He has plenty of talent to work with because of Strong’s impressive recruiting classes the last two years. But the reality is he’s inheriting a team that has gone 6-7, 5-7 and 5-7 the last three years. I don’t care how much talent you have on paper, you are what your record says you are. So in that regard, Herman has his work cut out for him.

But one of the biggest reasons why Herman is the best fit right now is from a recruiting standpoint. He doesn’t have to create new relationships with Texas high school coaches. He’s always recruited the state well throughout his entire career and should only build on that with the Longhorns.

There’s absolutely no way Strong would have been able to put together a recruiting class this year similar to his last two. The program lost all momentum and his job status would have been a distraction. With only seven current commitments in the 2017 class, Herman and his staff have to hit the recruiting trail early and often, but selling the program shouldn’t be difficult.

And speaking of his staff, it’s critical that Herman hires the best possible staff right now. Strong’s biggest downfall was his inability to hire the right coaching staff when he arrived, and it led to inconsistencies all over the place. Herman doesn’t have to land the big name coordinators and coaches, he just has to land the RIGHT guys.

But of course, we can’t overlook the fact that this is Texas and with that comes unfair expectations most of the time. Herman already has intense pressure to succeed right away in Austin. He can’t use youth as an excuse. There’s no rebuilding. There’s no learning curve. He’s got to hit the ground running.

There will undoubtedly be some player transfers over the offseason, just like there are when any coaching change happens. But that also won’t be seen as an excuse with the depth the program has at nearly every position.

The good thing is Herman knows what he’s getting himself in to. He was a graduate assistant under Mack Brown in 1999. He understands what it takes to win at a program like Texas. And he’s learned from the very best, whether it’s Brown or Urban Meyer at Ohio State or anywhere in between.

Herman may check off all the boxes for what you’re looking for in a head coach, but it won’t matter if he doesn’t win early and often. Wins and losses are really all that matter at Texas.

Tom Herman is the right guy for the job at Texas right now. He has the ability to get the BB’s back in the box. He’s got the unified support. He has all the talent he needs to win immediately. He can’t ask for much more, and Texas fans can’t either.

With a rejuvenated fan base that’s counting down the remaining 278 days until opening kickoff, it can be hard to not get caught up in the energy. But for Herman, he knows he needs every one of those days to meet and exceed expectations.

And that’s why he’s the perfect fit.

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

Photo: Wikimedia

Letter to Charlie Strong

Dear Coach Strong,

On behalf of the majority of Texas fans, I want to thank you for the last three years.

I’ve been a supporter of the decision to hire you since day one. I still think you could turn the program around if you were allowed to coach the remainder of your contract, but time has run out before we will get to that point. You simply can’t lose to Kansas and expect to stick around much longer. Any argument to keep you around has been nullified.

But instead of being mad or upset about the result, I’m relieved, and you should be too. Let me explain.

Be relieved that you lost to Kansas to seal your fate. Now there won’t be any surprises. You won’t have to be embarrassed with the speculation about your job security and have rumors swirl about your future. If you had won, the media would have been digging for information related to your job status and even labeling a potential successor for you this entire week. I saw it happen with Mack Brown, and it would have happened to you too. You don’t deserve that, your players don’t deserve it, and Texas fans don’t deserve to have to go through it again.

We all feel bad for you, but this is probably the best thing that could have happened. Does it suck losing to arguably the worst football program in college football? Of course. Is it one of the most embarrassing moments in Texas football history? Absolutely.

I know you won’t like to hear it, but part of me wanted us to lose to Kansas. Why? Because you can’t say you’ve hit rock bottom until you lose to Kansas. We’ve now hit rock bottom and have nowhere to go but up. This is the lowest low that I’ve experienced, and it’s one that I’ll look back on and appreciate when we get back to the top. You won’t be around for that moment, but some of these players you brought in will be.

You came into a mess of a situation on the 40 acres and handled it with class. You had little to no support from the get-go, but still managed to keep your team together through all the adversity. That’s why you’ve earned so much respect from the fans.

It’s unfortunate that the wins could never come consistently in three years, but there’s no doubt you built a foundation your successor will be able to benefit from. You didn’t have that luxury. But we can all see you’re leaving the program better than you found it.

Just like most Texas fans look at the current Louisville program as the one you built, most of us will be thanking you in a couple years when Texas gets back to relevance with your players. I don’t know how you were able to recruit so well with such negativity around the program all the time, but you did it and laid the foundation for getting back to prominence.

Did I agree with some of your coaching hires, game management decisions and the way you prepared your team sometimes? Most definitely not. But those are ultimately the reasons why it’s the right decision to part ways.

I wanted the situation to work out just like the majority of Texas fans, but it’s time for everyone involved to realize we simply aren’t right for each other. Sometimes that just happens.

But most of all, I’m happy that you’re leaving us because of results on the field, rather than being involved in a scandal that gave the entire university a black eye. We wouldn’t have been able to forgive you for that.

Most of the time, fans celebrate when their head coach gets fired for different reasons, but there’s a different sense about your situation. We know you were treated unfairly and never had a true boss to go to for most of your tenure. But the reality is you just can’t lose to Kansas no matter how unfair the situation has been.

A 16-20 record in three years is unacceptable in most programs throughout the country, and especially at Texas. For that reason alone, it’s time to move on.

We’ve seen signs of potential with wins over top-15 teams over the past couple years, but the bad losses simply outweigh them. With this loss to Kansas, the program under your leadership has lost to every program in the Big 12. When you think about how bad the conference has been as a whole over the last couple seasons, you can see why this isn’t sitting well with the big money boosters and fans.

I watched your emotional post-game press conference after the Kansas game. It was harder to watch than the game itself. I know you care about your players and the program. That makes this very difficult to write.

I’m sorry that it didn’t work out. I’m sorry that you didn’t get the support you deserved from the administration. I’m sorry that you simply aren’t the right fit to be the head coach at Texas.

But do I feel sorry for you personally? No.

You’ll be just fine with the additional $10 million owed to you as you head out the door. You’ll land on your feet with another big-time defensive coordinator position and eventually another head coaching job. And my prediction is you’ll do well wherever you land because now you know what’s a good fit and what isn’t. You’ll probably even be on a national championship winning staff and will win a championship before Texas does. If so, good for you.

Go get us a win over TCU on Friday to send yourself and us out the right way. I know the fans are unhappy with the results your team has posted, but I also know they will be there to support you in your final game. Get the job done so we can appreciate you the right way and then make a clean break-up. You deserve it and us fans do too.

Hook’em

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

Photo: Pixabay

Moral Victories Don’t Count in the Standings

I don’t believe in moral victories, but I do believe in progress a team can make to make a loss feel a lot less painful. That’s what I saw at DKR on Saturday.

I saw a team that could have beaten another ranked opponent. I saw a coaching staff that may have coached their best game of the season. I saw a team that could have given up when the score was 17-3. But I also saw a Longhorns team that just flat out got beaten by a better opponent.

Texas sits with a 5-5 record with two games left. That’s not the standard here. The team is one game better than their 4-6 record at this point last season. But why does this year feel different?

Maybe it’s because the games are more competitive this year and there’s clear improvement across the board. Last year we saw losses like 38-3, 50-7, 24-0 and 38-20. This year, four of the five losses have been by a touchdown or less.

This doesn’t make me feel any better by looking at the standings, but it’s a clear sign of progress.

This team is better than the 5-5 record shows. They’ve just got to figure out how to put everything together for four quarters. Hopefully it happens over the next two games and the bowl game, otherwise, the players may have to do it with a new coach in 2017.

Nothing about the game against West Virginia should have people screaming for Charlie Strong to get fired. Yes, there were the same clock management issues. Yes, there were a few questionable decisions. But those happen in every game across the country. And I understand it’s all about wins and losses for the big money boosters.

Texas fans and media tend to nitpick at the tiniest details, and I’ll throw my name in that ring too. It’s very clear that this team is far from being perfect, but they aren’t far from being good again. Just look at the entire body of work instead of criticizing the smallest details, and you’ll see it.

Just about every single opposing coach this season has said Texas is a better team than the record indicates. So why doesn’t the record reflect the product?

That’s a question no one can truly answer, including coach Strong himself.

His players love him.

The players play hard.

Talent is all over the field.

The offense can score.

The defense can stop teams.

So what’s the problem?

The Longhorns have all the ingredients to be a good team again. They just don’t know how to put all the ingredients in the same bowl yet. Once they understand how to do it, look out.

Until then, the moral victories and signs of progress will continue to pile up without showing up in the standings.

With two games left in the season and a possible bowl game, there’s still plenty to play for with this 5-5 team. Take care of business on the road against Kansas and then go out and win against a respectable TCU team to save Strong’s job. It’s that simple.

If the West Virginia game ends up being the last moral victory of 2016, then there’s a good chance Charlie Strong will be patrolling the sidelines for Texas again in 2017.

If not, then all bets are off.

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

Photo: Wikimedia