I was saddened to hear the unfortunate news that our beloved mascot, Bevo, has a “life-threatening condition” and therefore will be unable to watch the Texas-OU game Saturday from the sidelines. Don’t feel too bad for him, though.
Right now, Oklahoma is a 17-point favorite per vegas.com. I’ve been a pessimist all year long and I (naturally) think that the spread might be too generous to the Horns.
Sports Illustrated’s Campus Rush blog has a new article up analyzing the recent problems with the Longhorns varsity football squad. It lays most of the blame on the upperclassmen recruited during Mack Brown’s final years as head coach:
Speculation about Charlie Strong’s future at Texas has intensified with his team’s woes, but Strong won’t blame his predecessor. “I never will ever say it was Mack Brown’s fault,” Strong told reporters Monday. “It wasn’t his fault. It is on me.”
But numerous coaches who have faced Texas this season and are familiar with the Longhorns aren’t as diplomatic about Strong’s 1–4 start entering Saturday’s game against No. 10 Oklahoma in Dallas. They point the finger at Brown and his former staff for the lack of talented upperclassmen and an attitude of entitlement that’s resulted in public clashes with younger players recruited by Strong.
“In two years, Charlie could not have f—– that place up,” a coach tells The Inside Read. “It was already f—- up before.”
. . .
It’s apparent the Longhorns’ most talented players are mainly those Strong signed in his first two recruiting classes. Offensively, coaches rattle off freshman wide receiver John Burt, sophomore running back D’Onta Foreman as well as freshmen offensive linemen Connor Williams and Patrick Vahe as the best at their respective positions for the Longhorns. Defensively, it’s freshman linebacker Malik Jefferson along with freshmen cornerbacks Kris Boyd, Davante Davis and Holton Hill.
The best quarterback on the roster is redshirt freshman quarterback Jerrod Heard, but coaches attribute his immense struggles the last two games to opponents’ crowding the box defensively to restrict his dual-threat ability. With enough video of Heard finally in action, the opposition has discovered he can’t complete the intermediate passes needed to exploit those defensive schemes.
“That’s no secret,” one of the coaches says.
Neither is the void of talent among the upperclassmen. It’s so bad that the Longhorns’ have become a punch line among NFL scouts, who joke they now make the trip to Austin for Sixth Street instead of The Forty Acres.
Senior cornerback Duke Thomas is considered Strong’s best senior because of how hard he plays but is unlikely to make an NFL roster. It’s widely believed Texas won’t have a player selected in the NFL draft for the second time in three years after its 76-year streak was snapped in 2014.
“None of the older guys are going to the NFL, so you can tell most of them really don’t care,” one of the coaches says.
To make matters worse, there appears to be a lack of leadership among the players, a role usually filled by upperclassmen. “(Texas) doesn’t have any dogs,” one of the coaches says. “They don’t have anyone that will stand up and say, ‘F— this bull—-, let’s go kick these f——‘ a–.”
The rift between Texas’s underclassmen and upperclassmen is so evident that coaches could sense the animosity well before it spilled over publicly in recent weeks. They see confidence in the Longhorns’ younger players, but not the older ones.
“The upperclassmen are killing everything,” one of the coaches says. “The freshmen just want to play. They’re balling their a—- off.”
The piece also slams Mack Brown for not recruiting some of TCU’s most talented players.
Look, I know as a Texas Ex that we can’t always be national championship contenders. But this really hurts. Heretofore I have tended to, like most people I think, blame Charlie Strong. Even Charlie Strong (publicly) blames Charlie Strong.
And perhaps that’s partly Strong’s fault, for not empowering the upperclassmen he inherited and the underclassmen he recruited to be leaders. But the coaches speaking to Evans and Thamel — perhaps including ones at Big 12 rivals Oklahoma State and TCU, who would seem to have far more to gain from noting the conference’s dormant superpower is still poorly-coached than from praising the man in charge of it — seem mostly laudatory of the job Strong has done, with the reporters even writing “many coaches still can’t believe Strong was able to will the Longhorns to a 6-7 record last season.”
Given a chance to play politics, those coaches chose truth. And it’s crystal clear that those coaches — who see more, talk more, and know more about locker rooms, even their opponents’, than virtually anyone else in the college football ecosystem — feel that the lion’s share of the blame for this Texas plight should fall at the feet of Mack Brown.
And given that, I’ll sure as heckfire be mad if the University chiefs even consider hiring Mack Brown as Athletic Director. There is no way he could possibly be objective. (Fortunately, the latest is that he doesn’t want the job).
Whether Charlie Strong can succeed in turning things around is yet to be proven, but he has earned the opportunity to try. If anyone should feel entitled on the 40 Acres, it should be him.