As my first piece with Hornsports.com, I want to give my opinion on the State of Texas Athletics and what to do moving forward.
For the past two years, the Texas athletic program has been in a state of confusion. A once proud program with 110 conference titles in 14 years averaging Â around 8 conference titles a season to the past 2 seasons only winning 5 titles. That’s only averaging 2.5 titles a year. Â It’s been what Texas Longhorn fans have dreaded for years… mediocrity. The biggest athletic department in the country with profits exceeding most Division-1 schools’ athletic budgets can’t win.Â Â From a 5-7 season in football to dropping the ball on a championship in the 2010-2011 basketball season to not even making the NCAA tournament for the 2012 baseball team for the first time in 15 years. It’s been a tough time for those wearing burnt orange and white. The mediocrity has been rough for most Longhorns and I do believe most could have lived with it, but in these two years Texas has been portrayed as a bully and selfish in the world of college football.
Even though Texas never started conference realignment or expressed interest in being in another conference, the national perception Â is that Texas will only look out for itself. Â Although Texas has given up a lot to keep the Big 12 intact, they still get blamed for the former members leaving the Big 12. Most of this stems from the polarizing Longhorn Network. Â Some other schools do have their own network. Â Kansas State has one and yes, even Texas A&M does as well. The problem that most college football fans have (if they are not Texas fans) is they simply see the big price tag of $300 million. $300 million for one school on a single network run by the most powerful sports entity; ESPN. Â This createdÂ animosity and jealously amongst other schools, but for Texas, this was a deal they couldn’t pass up.
So not only have Texas Longhorn fans seen their program not meet expectations, but in turn it gets blasted by other members of the media and by long-time conference partners. Â The program is on the ropes, taking a beating from others in the media, opponents, recruits and even its own fans.
Texas can get off the ropes and become that powerful, championship program again and here is how they can do it:
1. Football program must get back to elite in 2012.
The football team sets the tone at Texas. When they win, it gets the morale in the athletic department to RISE. Â Mack Brown must win this year. If he doesn’t get to at least 9 wins, it will be 3 years in a row that he wins 8 or less games in a year and considering he has never won less than 9 games a year until 2010, this looks to be more of a trend than just a minor hiccup. Coaches in and outside of Texas are in the ears of recruits telling them that Mack Brown is fading, that he won’t be able to win again at Texas and he won’t utilize your skills as well as they would. Texas is having a fairly good recruiting class but if Â the ‘Horns can’t get the wins, they will start to lose out on the recruits as well. So, to get this athletic program back on a championship track, the football team needs to find its winning ways again.
2. We must have aÂ contingency plan with Deloss Dodds.
Deloss Dodds has served Texas well as athletic director for over 30 years. He has been an innovator and a game changer in college athletics, but no one lives forever. Texas has to maintain what he has built, which means going out there and finding someone who knows Texas, what it is as an athletic program and how to make it successful doing it the Texas way. Many have rumored that current UTA Athletic Director Jim Baker would be the favorite for the job but we need to broaden the pool of applicants and start the search process now so that Texas is in the best position for transition when Dodds decides to retire.
The Texas Longhorns have gone through a rough stretch, but this can be turned around and it starts September 1st against Wyoming.