As the fairy tale prospect of Urban Meyer becoming the head coach of the University of Texas circulates the far reaches of the internet, there also lies this reality: Texas has a good football coach already on campus. Tom Herman has turned the Texas program around from being a dumpster fire and has made them again respectable nationally. Tom Herman currently holds a 30-18 record at Texas, a far cry from Charlie Strong’s three losing seasons, which Herman inherited.
Magic City Tom also has won three bowl games in three tries and may very well have Texas finished ranked in the AP poll for the third consecutive season. Texas has not become a national title contender, and has not won a Big 12 Championship at this point, and while that may be the goal at Texas, Longhorns fans must understand this is a process and there is no quick and easy fix to becoming a stable program.
From 2012-2017 Texas had five players selected in the first three rounds of the NFL draft. Since Tom Herman has taken over, that number has crept up to four players in three seasons, with several expected to be selected in the 2021 draft class including what appears to be their first, Round One selection since the 2015 NFL Draft. Texas has always recruited well obviously, but Herman is beginning to develop talent and with two Top 3 classes under his belt and three Top 10 classes in the three seasons.
Last season’s 8th-ranked class got to that level with only 20 commitments, which is extremely impressive. Even with Texas normally getting strong classes, the Longhorns had a negative blue-chip rate of minus 3 when Herman arrived on campus, and only one five-star prospect. Texas now has four five-star prospects on campus and a blue-chip rate of +23. Herman, though, has lost some head-to-head battles in recruiting, namely to Ohio State with No. 1 QB Quinn Ewers, and WR Garrett Wilson. Texas’ talent level is now among the tops in the nation, rankings fourth in 247Sports‘ college talent rankings.
There have certainly been moments of failure for Tom Herman. As the coach of Texas, he has a losing record against TCU, he is not faring well against his rival Oklahoma (1-4). Herman lost his one Big 12 championship game appearance to this point. He also got swept by Maryland in a home-and-home series. He has only a 9-10 record against Top 25 opponents, and his one marquee victory over Oklahoma was virtually wiped away from an emotional standpoint, as Oklahoma was able to defeat the Longhorns in a rematch in the 2018 Big 12 championship game. Herman has made comments that raise your eyebrows, like the one about Gary Patterson earlier in the season when he said, “It gets frustrating sometimes because Gary, to his credit and a ton of respect for him, doesn’t do a whole lot [on defense].”
There are rumors of favoritism and other morally suspect actions behind the scenes in Austin. These criticisms are all fair and reasonable, however, that does not change the overall picture. The Texas program is not just in a better position than what they were in when Tom Herman arrived, their situation is vastly improved.
A rebuild does not happen overnight. Dabo Swinney at Clemson is the perfect example. His first four seasons at Clemson were riddled with disappointments, a label known as “Clemsoning”, a losing season and an embarrassing 70-33 loss in his first BCS game to West Virginia.
Mack Brown did not fare much better. Brown needed eight seasons to win his first Big 12 championship, the same season Texas then went on and won the national championship. Brown began his career 1-5 against Bob Stoops, and 2-5 against Oklahoma overall. Mack Brown only won two Big 12 titles, and even if you want to reach and give him a nod for 2008, given the circumstances, that amounts to three in 16 seasons in Austin. Find me one Texas fan or knowledgeable person who believes Mack Brown’s time at Texas was a failure?
Darrell K Royal certainly dominated the Southwest Conference, which was never close to the quality or depth of the Big 8 or Big 12. Calling for Urban Meyer is a desperate attempt by fans to ignore a process that sometimes takes time, even at a place like Texas. A rebuild requires patience. Tom Herman may not turn out to be the guy to get the job done at Texas, but he deserves the opportunity to prove it one way or the other.
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