Is Texas All Show and No Go?


When I think about Texas football, it reminds me of the Dallas Cowboys.  It makes me wonder, when is the last time Texas won a meaningful game?  What does meaningful mean in this context?  Today, ESPN has made it clear that the only thing meaningful in college football is the playoffs.


The new playoff format started in 2014.  In five of the last nine years a Big 12 team has qualified for the playoffs.  Four of those five times, Oklahoma has been the Big 12 representative.  Last year, Texas Christian University represented the Big 12.  Somehow, the supposed most prestigious, glamorous football program in the Big 12 has yet to even knock on the door of the playoffs.  Apart from the Longhorns win in the Sugar Bowl in 2018, the Texas failed to finish in the top ten at the end of any of the play-off seasons.


The Longhorns lack of consistent success has a much longer memory than the last nine years.  The last time Texas won a National Championship is the 2005 BCS championship game at the Rose Bowl against USC.  Texas, undefeated in the regular season, won a nail-biting blockbuster game against the pride of the PAC 12, USC.  It was a massive win.  Pete Carroll had led the Trojans to back-to-back national championships and was going for a third and row.  Carroll ran into Mack Brown’s magnum opus and lost.  What has Texas accomplished since?


Looking further back into history, Texas has only claimed four National Championships.  The remaining victories occurred in 1963, 1969 and 1970.  Texas Longhorn Alumni waited 35 years for their next championship in 2005.  Alumni are now in year 18 since Texas’s last Championship.


Like the Dallas Cowboys, Texas is plagued with rich oil men who think they know football best.  They have forgotten a fundamental tenant to the game of football, leadership.  Mack Brown was by far the Longhorns best head coach since Darrell Royal.  Coach Royal led the Longhorns from 1957 thru 1976 achieving three national championships amassing 19 winning seasons out of 20, 14 bowl appearances and 11 bowl victories.  Mack Brown’s record is remarkably similar during his 16-year tenure.  The common thread between both men was leadership.  They knew how to build a plan and execute it.  They knew how to get the most of their teams.  They knew how to win consistently and build a championship team.   But some rich men think they know better.  They think you can buy yourself to victory.  History simply does not support this theory.


Austin Texas has a lot of distractions.  It is a foodie town.  It is an arts town.  It is a music town.  Austin has turned into a version of Los Angeles.  Football is no longer the priority in Austin and the culture of city reflects that.  When you go to LSU, Alabama or Georgia the entertainment is football.  There are limited entertainment choices.  Everyone is invested in the football program.  That simply isn’t the case in Austin.  Coaches at Texas must understand the distraction factor and have a plan to overcome it.


Texas seems to thrive on mediocrity.  The rich oil men hate mediocrity but their moves show they don’t know how to avoid it.  The Dallas Cowboys and the Texas Longhorns are still living on glory days that are long past.  It is time for both squads to start living and planning for the future.  However, planning for a football future does not seem to be in the cards for Texas.  The football program is just another avenue of approach to high revenues for the University…nothing more.  The Longhorns move to the SEC is a money move.  It is not a football move.   Their pathway to the national championship is more difficult.  Money is the driver.  Achieving consistent football greatness has been cast aside.


Recruiting is the life blood of any college football program.  Texas has struggled in that regard over the years.   Though Texas is situated in the seemingly beautiful Austin, Texas, its still central Texas.  If there is a state you want to avoid during July and August, its Texas.  Players have to be incentivized to come to any school in Texas.  Name recognition simply isn’t enough.  Most players want to go where they have an opportunity to develop into an NFL player.  Other players simply want to be a part of a program that consistently has a shot at the playoffs.  Lastly players want to go where there is maximum investment both physically and culturally to the football program.


Texas no longer has the monopoly on the best players in college football. The SEC dominates college football because they have access to the best players in the game.  Players tend to want to stay home close to friends and family.  When Nick Saban can’t find the best players in the South, he poaches players from Texas, California and Ohio.  Coach Saban can do this because he has a consistent track record of winning at Michigan State, LSU and of course Alabama.  He is known as a leader of men.  He is known as a developer of players.  He is known as a winner.


Coach Sarkisian is not the answer to the Texas Longhorn championship hopes.  He has ridden the coat tails of greater men and coaches.  He has coached under Pete Carroll and Nick Saban, earning national championship rings as an assistant coach.  There is no doubt that Coach Sarkisian had a positive effect on those teams.  He is an effective offensive coordinator and good quarterback coach.  He has yet to show that he can be an effective leader of men.  That is what is required to consistently win and be in the hunt for championships.  His head coaching tenure at Washington was average at best.  His time at USC was a disaster.  He is starting his third year at Texas, and he is only 13-12.


How you treat the little people is how you treat everyone.  As Coach Sarkisian was about to lead his team onto the field at the Alamo Bowl, he was seen berating a crew member in the tunnel.  “Don’t fucking touch me again mother fucker.  Get your fucking hands off me.”  This is what his team observes him yell at a lowly crew member right before the game.  Really?  That is not how you set a winning tone.  That is not a winning attitude.  It is certainly not leadership.


Sonny Dykes has shown the state of Texas what leadership is.  During his first year at TCU he led his team all the way to the National Championship game, even though they lost the Big 12 Championship game to Kansas State.  That is leadership.  It helps that he had a veteran squad coached and developed by another great leader of men, Coach Gary Patterson.  TCU almost made a critical mistake letting Patterson go.  Thankfully for the Horned Frogs, they were able to find another great Coach.


How long will Texas wait for their next championship?  History shows at least another 17 years.  Texas needs to find the kind of coach that will bring great recruits and consistent wins to Austin.  Texas needs to dust off the history books and look at what made Coach Royal and Coach Brown so special.  Then they need to go out and find the next Nick Saban.  Coach Sarkisian isn’t the answer.  For now, Texas is going to be All Show and No Go until they figure it out…..




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