The casual Texas Longhorns football fan may not be aware that the team’s relative struggles — if you can consider nine win seasons as “struggling” — are far from the only concern on the Forty Acres. Expectations will be at their highest level in years when the 2013-2014 academic calendar year kicks off this fall, so high in fact, that 2014 could be a year of reckoning that changes the face of Texas sports if things go sideways.
There’s a small fire burning under the backside of Mack Brown that could turn into an inferno by this time next year if Texas doesn’t manage to take home at least 10 wins, play in a major BCS bowl game, and most importantly, beat the Oklahoma Sooners. If any of those three elements are not met, no one should be surprised if the voices calling for Brown’s job go from a whisper to a yell post haste.
As things go, the success of the football program often carries the success of the overall athletic department, apart from the minor sports that have seen some relative success this year with National Championships in both volleyball and men’s golf. If the football Longhorns struggle through the backside of 2013, you can almost bet the negative flow will carry over right onto the hardwood.
Rick Barnes‘ young basketball squad will be lacking in experience yet again with the departure of Myck Kabongo to the NBA and with the transfers of mainstays Jaylen Bond and Shelden McClellan. Barnes will yet again need unproven freshmen — three-star freshmen at that — to play heavy minutes to ensure Texas makes its way back to the post-season after a one-year absence, and possibly, to save his job.
Make no mistake, while Texas is a football-driven department, the standards for the basketball team are higher than ever, and marginal performances like we saw in 2013 won’t be allowed to become the norm rather than the exception.
The 2013 Texas baseball team has perhaps had the roughest go of any of the school’s major sports, and after losing to the Kansas State Wildcats yesterday, may in fact miss out on even the chance to make a trip to Omaha for the first time in the tenure of legendary head coach Augie Garrido. Disciplinary problems have abounded recently, and there’s even starting to be suggestions that Garrido step down while he’s ahead.
In short, things are not what they once were on the Forty Acres, and sooner than later if the ship isn’t righted, someone will have to take the fall. It’s reasonable to surmise that before Brown, Barnes or Garrido are scapegoated that long-time Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds would have to go first.
The four men are all attached with shared limbs and seeing one go without Dodds hitting the bricks first appears to be an impossibility.
Regardless, we’ll know plenty more about the short-term future of Texas sports next May, a future that could be led by several, fresh new faces if results aren’t different on the field, on the court, and on the diamond.