An optimist views the Texas Longhorns 8-5 year in 2011 as a three-game improvement on the dumpster fire of 2010. The resources in Austin, misused for multiple seasons following 2005 due to laziness, misevaluations, complacency and the occasional bust don’t equate to admiring eight-win campaigns. David Ash struggled, Case McCoy maintained then sunk then walked right through the Texas A&M defense for 25 yards and the most significant gain of the year. Running back injuries forced a depth chart to consider trips to the Intramural Fields for the next Legal Eagles’ standout. All the while, a young defense matured though it still allowed an Oklahoma Sooners rout and Robert Griffin III‘s Heisman coronation. A loss against Kansas State was expected as Bill Snyder weaves victories against the burnt orange out of JUCO talent and elven secrets.
The first season, of reconstruction on the 40 Acres, set the compass. In year two of Mack Brown‘s retooled coaching staff, the job is to guide the ship with early arrival like the surprise 2008 Texas team a possibility. Keeping in mind that the final BCS National Championship will be played in 2013 at the Rose Bowl. There’s a bit of history in that venue with this program. You can be sure that the athletic department, coaches, players and the miscreant executives running the Longhorn Network know it.
David Ash no longer shares that inane or on the depth chart with McCoy. Joe Bergeron and Malcolm Brown spearhead the running game initially; at least until Johnathan Gray simply can’t come off the field. A thin offensive line hopes to avoid injury the way Bobby Petrino walks across the street at sight of a blonde. Manny Diaz‘s defense may prevent Texas from being blown out; even win them a game or two. He can’t score though and that’s been the issue since Colt McCoy graduated; finding a consistent offense.
As for the schedule, two non-conference games occur in early September but a few hundred thousand in Central Texas are the only ones to receive the transmission. This is not unlike the Mars Curiosity landing I watched today, which happened on a different planet. Oh wait, it’s nothing like that. A trip to Oxford and a test of the Texas rushing attack looms with Ole Miss Rebels, though that contest seems more about the sheer quantity of sundresses and which southern school provides better distractions.
The gauntlet and trio of games that earmark Texas for January in San Diego, Glendale or Miami occur in succession: Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Oklahoma. That’s the season in a span of three Saturdays with home tilts against Baylor and TCU the on-paper version of potential landmines. A November night in Manhattan may put title dreams on a cold, bleak line and at this point, does a bundled-up Mack Brown or a tuxedo t-shirt Bill Snyder offer more confidence?
Currently ranked 11th in the 2013 recruiting cycle by 247 Sports, 14 commits pledged to Texas thus far with offensive lineman/defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson, offensive tackle Kent Perkins, quarterback/athlete Tyrone Swoopes and wide receiver Jake Oliver a few of the headliners. Already, Texas has suffered two defections in wide receiver/athlete Ricky Seals-Jones and defensive end Daeshon Hall, an irregularity that doesn’t tend to plague the Longhorn’s staff. These are issues when a program is attempting to rebound from a 13-12 record in the previous two seasons. Recruiting in Austin, though, becomes more selecting when double-digit victories precede signing day.
The future for Texas and the questions surrounding it reside mostly with the man in charge. Mack Brown’s contract was extended last winter through the 2020 season. No sane person believes he’ll remain on the sidelines that long. At some point, be it another national championship or a second disastrous 5-7-ish inferno, Brown will retire. And arguably, the best job in the country will open for the first time in nearly two decades. Somewhere, in the headquarters of Flight Aware, an analyst will see a tremendous spike in traffic in the southwest and wonder if it’s Burt Reynolds or something. No, just a program generating hundreds of millions in revenue replacing a football coach earning $5 million annually.