Photo via Max Olson, ESPN
Along with Oregon, the Texas Longhorns were one of 2016’s most disappointing teams. It doesn’t take a genius to see the program is worn out. Under head coach Charlie Strong, the Longhorns didn’t have a single winning season. The program is simply falling apart—the office was old and gaudy, the staff was lacking depth, and the locker rooms and training rooms simply weren’t up to snuff.
The Charlie Strong era was not the only rough patch; the Longhorns have been struggling for a while. They may have had winning seasons, but Texas hasn’t won 10 plus games in eight years. Both Strong and the famous Mack Brown weren’t able to deliver nearly as well as was hoped. It’s difficult to turn around a program after three straight losing seasons, but coach Tom Herman might be just the man for the job.
One only needs to look at Herman’s achievements during his tenure at Houston to see that he knows his stuff. He walked into a program that hadn’t won more than eight games in three years and immediately led them to a 13-1 campaign, beating Florida State University in the Peach Bowl. They also beat Louisville twice and had a win over Oklahoma. In his Herman’s second season, the Cougars went 9-4.
I don’t know how quickly Herman’s changes will affect the program, because there’s so much to be done. He’s (literally) ripping up the floors in Austin. He’s trying to change the culture, and he’s hiring the right people to help him do it.
It’s a tall order for Herman. The biggest problem he’ll run into is University of Texas’ complete lack of recruiting prowess. UT’s name has a fraction of the weight it used to carry, and a high-performance high school player isn’t going to want to commit to a losing program. Herman can make all the changes he wants, but without dedicated, talented players, he isn’t going to go anywhere fast. To make big time players come to his school, Herman needs to make it look infinitely more appealing.
This is the ultimate program overhaul, and it’s hard to imagine it getting fully off the ground anytime soon. Herman might not even be at Texas to see the finished product. He could take too long in realizing his goal and lose his spot at Texas—it’s happened at other programs.
Texas won’t be anywhere near their former strength in the next five years. It’s happened faster before, but I think the Longhorns are too deep in the hole to see noticeable changes anytime soon. We might see Texas get a few Top 25 votes and some surprising wins, but at best, they’ll barely break the .500 mark for the next two years or so.