It’s the beginning of a new era in Austin. Again.
Three years ago, Charlie Strong was brought in to revive the Texas football program. Three years later, Strong is now in South Florida after falling short of meeting the expectations that come with being the Longhorns head coach.
Now, it’s Tom Herman’s turn.
Herman takes over a team that has managed to underachieve despite all the plethora of talent basically at every position on the field. It’s also a team that despite having the name Texas across the chest, hasn’t really won much over the last few years. Herman arrived in Austin with the task of showing the Longhorns how to win again.
“In our first team meeting, I said raise your hand if you’ve been on a winning Texas football team, and three people raised their hand,” Herman said during Tuesday’s Big 12 Media Day. “I think losing has to be awful, and you can never get used to losing. That is one of the biggest maybe downfalls of a lot of teams is you get used to losing. It’s awful.”
“Players that came to Texas came here to win, came here to hold trophies and for us not to do that is a very eye-opening experience,” added offensive lineman and Coppell native Connor Williams. “We must be doing something wrong so we are trying to figure it out.”
There wasn’t much losing at Houston under Herman. The Cougars were 22-4 during his two years there. However, Herman is no stranger to Austin. He was a graduate assistant for the Longhorns in 1999-2000. While Herman insists this isn’t a rebuilding project, he did have some interesting takes on why the program has struggled recently.
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“I know that it went through a tremendous storm, if you will, from Coach [Mack] Brown’s departure to now,” Herman said. “We’re talking about a Hall of Fame coach leaving, a Hall of Fame athletic director leaving, a president leaving, a new president coming in, a new AD getting hired, that AD leaving, a new interim AD leaving, the next head coach leaving and not having success. So I think there was a lot of non-continuity, if that’s a word. There just wasn’t any stability from the top down.”
Texas has six returners on offense going into 2016, including Arlington Lamar’s own Shane Buechele, who made 12 starts last season at quarterback. On the defensive side of the ball, 10 starters will be back, among them is linebacker Malik Jefferson. The former Mesquite Poteet standout had 5.5 sacks last season and was named to the 2017 Preseason All-Big 12 team.
Texas isn’t the only team going into the season with a new head coach and the talent to capture the Big 12 title. North of the Red River, Lincoln Riley takes over for Bob Stoops as the new head coach at Oklahoma after Stoops announced his retirement last month. The Sooners also have Heisman Trophy hopeful Baker Mayfield returning at quarterback. This is the first time in recent memory that the Red River Showdown will have two new head coaches on the sidelines, which makes the rivalry even sweeter this year.
“That’s going to be one of the biggest games this year for that reason,” said defensive back P.J. Locke III. “In the past, it’s always been a big game and so we are going to take the same approach. I can imagine it getting bigger but I’m the kind of person that doesn’t try to make it bigger than what it is. As a leader, I try to spread that around the team. It’s just another game of football.”
While Herman is known for his intensity, he did have a little fun at Media Day. The day before, Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury poked fun at a Justin Bieber song playing as he walked up to the podium. Herman wasn’t going to let an opportunity go to waste when it was his turn on the mic.
“I’m a little disappointed, no Justin Bieber,” Herman said.
The Tom Herman Era at Texas has now officially begun.