Well, fuck. I follow the Horns year round - recruiting, arrests, what have you. I highly anticipate the season, go to a couple of games, including OU. I buy some more burnt orange gear. I cart a boom box out to Matagorda Island to listen to the game against Wyoming. For the national championship game I take a day and a half off from work and drive 2-1/2 hours to watch the game in Austin with my cousin and brother so that I will be at celebration ground zero if we win. Suffice to say, I had a lot invested in the game last Thursday night and it was all over on the fifth play of the fucking game when Colt McCoy got rocked from behind and pinched a nerve in his shoulder. We went from having the best quarterback in the county who completes over 70% of his passes and directs one of the most potent offenses in the country to a playground offense. Don't get me wrong, Garrett Gilbert probably did about as well as can be expected given the circumstances, but he might as well have been a kindergartener out there.
The paragraph you just read was written over a year ago, right after the Horns lost the national championship game to Alabama. Since then, the Longhorns went 5-7 and had their worst season since 1997. I was at the UCLA game, their first loss of the season. At the time, I thought it was a fluke. That one loss a year to a team they should beat. What it really was was the beginning of the end. We played competitively against OU, but got beat. Then we went into Lincoln against the #5 team in the country in what was something of a grudge match due to the offseason conference realignment drama. Nebraska bolted our conference for the Big 10, citing Texas' control over the conference as one of the factors. We beat Nebraska in what may be the last team the two storied programs see each other on the field in a long time. The season seemed salvageable. Then we proceeded to lose four games in a row to Iowa State, Baylor, Kansas State and Oklahoma State. Iowa State and Baylor are historically the two worst teams in the conference. We pasted Florida International, which is one of the worst programs in the NCAA's top football division, then we lost to A&M to close out the season.
There are lots of superlative negative statements that can be made and a lot of unbelievably bad statistics that can be drawn out the season. The one question that I kept coming back to over and over again was, "How did this happen?"
Before the season even started Mack Brown complained of the team feeling "entitled." I dismissed it at the time. Usually things are so good that Mack has to find insignificant things to complain about so that it appears that he's constantly trying to make the team better. I thought this was one of those times. I don't really know if the team's sense of entitlement to winning contributed to this abortion of a season. But that's something that Mack pointed to. In my search for answers I started paying attention to Longhorn football message boards. One of the things that I learned is that message boards are terrible for gaining any real information about the team. Mostly it's a bunch of dudes competing to see who can bitch about the team and the coaches in the most creatively vulgar way. Sometimes someone will get on there and act like they have inside information, but there's never any way to verify it. One of the most sickening things to me to witness was how quickly people were to believe the most meager morsel of information put out there by someone claiming to be in the know. Another thing that came out of the message board experience was my participation in organizing a banner to be flown around the stadium before one of the home games that said, "Greg Davis is not our standard." For those reading who don't know, Greg Davis was the offensive coordinator. The "standard" was flown about by the team as their motto this year, as in, Texas football has a certain high standard. Every year a team adopts a motto. We used that on the banner.
Greg Davis was fired after the season. I don't think the banner had anything to do with it, though I do think that ten years' worth of fan discontent with the man did play a small part. Along with Davis, most of the other coaches were either fired, reassigned or left for other jobs. I don't have any idea whether the coaches had anything to do with the failures of the team in the 2010 season, but firing coaches is the program's way of keeping fans happy until wins come again. I tend to think that we could have come back next year with the same coaching staff and had a ten win season. Nevertheless, as a fan I am happy to see the changes and happy to see the courage on the part of Mack Brown and the administration to make them. The new staff is made up of some of the best guys on the market. Offensively, especially, it will be very interesting to see the then/now difference.
National signing day just happened and according to most, UT's recruiting class ranks in the top 5. We probably would have ranked number one if Christian Westerman, an offensive line recruit from Arizona, hadn't bailed on us for Auburn. The good news is that we continue to have a top level talent pool and that will continue unless we have another season or two like the last one.
So, here's looking forward to next season.