When you think of the state of Texas, what comes to mind? Is it the ridiculous size of the state? Or maybe the amount of beef us Texans have down here? Or what about the king of all sports here, football. No matter what crosses your mind, everyone knows that old saying. “Everything is bigger in Texas.”
While that would be a true statement, does bigger necessarily mean better? In some cases, sure, but what about when it comes to pressure? Perhaps no other Big 12 coach has had more positive praise than Texas head coach Tom Herman this offseason. Everyone has loved the way he has handled the COVID-19 situation and the way he is standing arm and arm with his players for the Black Lives Matter movement that is sweeping across the country.
For as well as he has handled business off the field, there has been plenty of questions about his coaching on the field. Whether it is Twitter, Facebook, Horns247 or Orange Bloods, you will find a good chunk of the Texas fan base questioning Tom Herman. And while some are already calling for his job, most think anything less than a Big 12 title this upcoming year is a complete waste of a season. But should it be?
Now, I know people are bored out of their minds due to COVID-19 and I hate to be the guy who goes off what crazy fans say on social media, but when I see this on my timeline for hours, I had to speak my mind and what better platform to do it than here?
Let us look at the history of Texas football since 1998, shall we? Mack Brown took over a Texas program back in 1998 that was fresh off a 4-7 season under coach John Mackovic. Mack rode Heisman winner Ricky Williams to a 9-3 season with a Cotton Bowl victory over Mississippi State. The following season in 1999, Texas posted a 9-3 record and made it to the Big 12 title game where they got beat up by a good Nebraska team and ended the season at 9-5 with a bowl loss.
Now what about Tom Herman? Much like Mack Brown did in 1998, Tom took over a Texas program in 2017 that had not won ten games in a single season since 2009, which was seven years before Herman took the job. To make matters worse, the three-year Charlie Strong era before Tom took over was a complete disaster as Texas went 16-21 from 2014 to 2016 and not only did those teams not a win a bowl game, they did not even make a bowl in 2015 or 2016.
As 2017 was a complete rebuild for Texas, Tom Herman got them to a bowl game and gave those seniors their first ever bowl win in the Texas Bowl against Missouri. And just like Mack Brown in his second year, Tom Herman led the Longhorns to their first Big 12 championship game in nearly a decade in just his second season as head coach. But just like Mack, the Horns fell short but there was a difference. Texas responded with a huge NY6 bowl win in the Sugar Bowl against Georgia to give Texas their first NY6 bowl win since the 2009 Fiesta Bowl.
Meanwhile, while Mack started to turn things around at Texas quickly, it took him seven years to win a NY6 bowl and that was the 2005 Rose Bowl. And what is even crazier, it took Mack eight seasons to win his first Big 12 title. Could you imagine Texas fans now letting Tom Herman coach for seven years without a single conference title? There is no way in hell that would happen.
I understand that 2018 was a disappointing year for Texas. But since the 2005 to 2008 bowl run, Texas has won three straight bowl games just once and the coach who did it is the current coach at Texas as he has a Texas Bowl, Sugar Bowl and Alamo Bowl victory under his belt in his first three seasons.
Look, there is no denying that Mack did one hell of a job from 2001 to 2009 as Texas won at least ten games in that time and walked away with a National title and two Big 12 conference titles. But like I mentioned earlier, that was a different time. It was much easier then. There was no TCU, Oklahoma State to worry about. Oklahoma was good but right now, they are on another level head and are shoulders above the conference with five straight Big 12 titles over the last few years.
Also keep in mind, back in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s Texas was not fighting for recruits like they are now. Sure, Texas still brings in top classes but guess what? Recruits are leaving the Lone Star State more than ever and other programs can scoop up players that Texas used to lock in with ease.
We live in a “win now” world and with more money involved, colleges cannot be acceptable with mediocre results and fans will not tolerate that, especially at a place like Texas where they wanted you fired yesterday. But here is the bottom line: If Tom Herman does not get his team up to win a Big 12 title this season, should he be fired? If he went 10-2 or 9-3 in the regular season and won his NY6 bowl game to go 11-2 or 10-3, would you consider that a failure? Mack Brown did not hit the ten-game win total until his fourth season and if Tom does it twice in four years, that is a failure? Give me a break people.
For those who think Tom Herman cannot coach or is not good enough to coach at Texas need to sit down, shut up and have a drink. Go back and look at the last five years of Tom Herman’s coaching career. He has won nine games in three of his five years as a head coach, has had two top ten finishes, two NY6 bowl wins and has a 4-0 bowl record. I would imagine the list of current coaches who have done in the last five years is ridiculously small.
I understand this will be a pressure-packed year for Tom, but it would be stupid of Texas to fire a coach if he wins ten games and does not walk away with a Big 12 title. Great football coaches do not just grow on trees and no matter how much money you throw at a coach, it does not necessarily mean it will work out.
Now is Texas a top five job? Absolutely. Is Tom Herman a top five coach? Probably not but when you look at the numbers, he is not as far off as people think he is. But that is the problem. People think you can just snap your fingers and simply fire and hire a new coach for a quick fix. It does not work like that and remember; Tom did not exactly inherit a great team. He did not walk into a situation like his rival did north of the Red River. It takes time people. If Texas has a bad year and goes 7-5 or 8-4, then I could understand some of this talk but until then, just wait and watch.
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