FanPost

Summer Series Installment #6: Texas

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"You see (insert 5-star recruit name here) even our paper we use is better than normal paper. Ours is burnt orange"

Football:

2010-11: 5-7, (2-6)

In what became known as the worst Texas football season in the Big 12 era, there was proof that even the mighty could fall. The first sign that the panic button should be pushed was after defending national runner-ups lost a home game to the sweater vest. Not only did they lose, but it wasn’t even close as the UCLA Bruins walked out of Darrel K. Royal stadium with a 34-12 victory against a roster littered full of 4 and 5 star High School recruits. As troubling as that was, things appeared to be not so bad as the ‘horns followed up that performance with a close loss in the Red River Rivalry falling 20-28 to the Sooners, and then stole the show in Lincoln Nebraska with a 20-13 victory. As soon as Bevo and the Longhorn faithful could exhale, Paul Rhoads walked into DKR and stole the show again in front of the home crowd. The Longhorns would wind up 2-5 at home. It was also this Longhorn team that the debut of the Collin Klein running show would be displayed to the world in primetime as the host Wildcats would put up 33 points to the Longhorns 14 in the Sophomore’s very first start at qb.

2011-12: 8-5, (4-5)

When you’re the university of Texas, you might fall, but getting back up isn’t hard to do given the talent you can pull in. After cleaning house of the coaching staff in the off-season, head coach Mack Brown rattled the bee-hive as violently as a 60 year old man possibly can. The inconsistencies that plagued the qb position in 2010, didn’t entirely go away in 2011, but ex-Boise State offensive coordinator Brian Harsin was able to coax more points out of the returning talent. It was first year defensive coordinator Manny Diaz who was the saving grace as the Longhorn defense finished the year the #11 defense in the country, #1 in the league. Every opponent besides Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State were held to 25pts or less in a game. Among those performances was shutting out and holding the University of Kansas to 46 total yards, the second lowest in Kansas school history. The combination proved enough to get the Longhorns to tip the scales in favor of the win column, finishing up the year 8-5 on the heels of a Holiday bowl victory over the Cal Bears 21-10.

One has to think the sleeping giant talent-pool of a University of Texas roster can only stay down so long. There's no reason to think that the two year combined record of 13-12 is a very accurate projection moving forward. If that’s the case, look out for the ‘horns in 2012-13. If qb play can improve yet again, and Manny Diaz as much as matches what his squad did last year this should be a candidate for a 10 win season, and that could come down to the last game of the season against your Kansas State Wildcats.

MBB:

2010-11: 28-8, (13-3) NCAA Round of 32

If not aware of the names J’Covan Brown, Jordan Hamilton and Tristan Thompson going into the season, the nation took notice of Rick Barnes’ club after back to back wins over North Carolina and Michigan State in the early non-conference schedule. Though the Longhorns would only start 12-3 in the non-con, there was no doubt that along the way they had built one of the saltiest schedules out the three losses were to Pitt, UCONN and USC in addition to those names aforementioned. You might also find a favorable score tally over a Bruce Weber lead fighting Illini in that non-con as well. With a squad well seasoned at the beginning of conference play, the Texas Longhorns rolled out an impressive 13-3 ledger through the conference with the three hiccups along the way being at departing Nebraska, at departing Colorado and at home to the K-state wildcats. Had the Longhorns not derped their way to any of those three losses, they would have taken home a share of the Big 12 title, and in our hearts we would have given them the outright title as Barnes did the impossible, and took out the Kansas Jayhawks on their home floor, something that rarely happens.

However, the Jayhawks left no doubt who the best team in the league was as the two teams met again in Kansas City, and the Longhorns left 13 points shy of a trophy and a cut down basketball net.

2011-12: 18-11, (8-8) NCAA Round of 64

The 2011-12 squad featured J’Covan Brown and 2 other Juniors, 2 Seniors and 6 Freshmen. That my friends is called “losing talent to the league”. With a much different face to the promotional schedule poster (both in players, and conference scheduling), the 11-12 season was much more of a challenge although the Longhorns skipped out of non-conference play with 3 losses once again. Only this time not nearly as impressive considering the opponents weren’t nearly as stacked as the year before and for the fact of only amassing 10 out of conference wins. As conference play started, Pretty boy Hoi wasted no time throwing a loss UT’s way at Hilton Coliseum to start things off. Following that up with 2 conference wins, the Longhorns would then go on to 5 out of the next 6 leaving them at 3-6. As radio talk show hosts would continue to debate whether or not Barnes can coach, he would only proceed to finish the conference schedule at a 5-2 clip. Ahh but the teams he beat were ranked 5th-10th, and the teams he lost to were Baylor and Oklahoma State. So I suppose mediocrity is a fair shake. Life on the bubble was no fun, so to solidify whether or not they belonged in the big Dance, the Longhorns claimed the season edge at 2-1 over then ranked #25 Iowa State. After punching their ticket, the University of Missouri would send them back to Austin to watch Selection Sunday on their way to a tournament championship. Even though allowed to dance, the Cincinnati BearCats motioned the chaperones to the dance floor and got the ‘horns escorted to the exit.

With a combined total of 46-19 over the two years, I think you can see essentially Rick’s ceiling and floor to his coaching abilities. Keep in mind both included nothing to be ashamed of non-conference schedules and NCAA tournament appearances. I suppose the 2010-11 season is an unfair representation of his ceiling as the guy has 3 conference regular season (big 12) championships, two elite 8 and one final four appearances. But I guess the point I was trying to make, was moving forward I think a Longhorn fan should realistically expect some sort of performance in 12-13 akin to whatever the middle ground is between the two. Look for a win total in the 20s for sure.

WBB:

2010-11 19-14 (7-9) – NCAA Round of 64

Borrowing scheduling techniques from the Men, the LadyHorns had a non-conference that featured at Stanford, at Michigan State and home for Tennesse as a 3 out of 4 spots on a schedule in two weeks, which also equated into 3 losses in those same 4 games, as SMU was the relief in the win column. As that will do you no favors, neither does opening conference play with a loss to hapless bottom feeder University of Missouri. As psychological deflating as that sounds, it apparently wasn’t far from the truth as that turned into an 0-4 start on the conference season. Eventually in the Big 12 tournament the gals would get revenge on the Tigers to set up a match in the quarterfinals with Little brother turned Big Sister the Texas A&M Aggies, in which they would lose to the team on a crash course with destiny; the eventual national Champions. It was the University of Marquette though that made the LadyHorns season come to the official end in the NCAA tournament.

2011-12 18-14, (8-10) – NCAA Round of 64,

The same three big name opponents from the year prior ended up on the schedule again only this time they turned into the return trips at the opposing venues, were further apart on the schedule and a more favorable 1-2 outcome. Again a poor start to conference play as the Horns won only 2 of the first 6 matches. Mizzou would provide the much needed bounce back for win #3, but then it was back to the L column with a 4 game losing streak. Despite as many negatives as there were in an 8-10 conference schedule and a loss to Texas Tech in the conference tournament, I will continue to be perplexed as I do these write-ups as it seems UT is like the upteenth women’s team to not reach the 20 win threshold, yet still make the NCAAs. The interesting thing in this write up, is that the foe which handed the first round loss to UT was WVU. So we now have some insight into what the future holds for the Big 12 women’s basketball league. Now I doubt WVU is at the level of departing A&M, but it shouldn’t be much to ask of TCU to perform as well as Mizzou. But given UT's record, I would also assume WVU was something like a 3 seed or something, so who knows. I guess in another three weeks we might as I open up what WVU's 2-year vault looks like.

As we now look onto 2012-13, it appears having a ridiculous schedule is the key for the Longhorns to sneak into the women’s tournament, as there’s nothing astounding about a 15-19 conference mark of the last two years. I would like to say the gals get into the NCAAs again this year, but obviously I have no handle on what criteria is needed on the women’s side. Either way, I think it’s safe to say the LadyHorn basketball team is an area of which we don’t have to worry about UT attaining another conference title.

Baseball:

2011 49-19, (19-8)

A season that never featured a losing streak greater than 2 games is usually a recipe for success. That might explain a top 10 ranking most of the year, the privelage to host both a regional and super-regional as well as a trip to Omaha. Pitcher Taylor Jungman may have had a lot to do with that, and I assume the rest of the pitching staff. But this guy was simply amazing through the conference grind going 11-0.

2011 30-22, (13-10)

With an obvious contrast in prosperity to that of 2011, the University of Texas decided to let go Assistant head coach Tommy Harmon and bring in former player/assistant coach Tommy Nicholson. Will that be enough to turn back the winning ways? It’s tough to tell, but it’s easy to tell the University of Texas can’t stomach closing the year out with a Loss to the worst team in the conference tournament, the University of Kansas.

With any coaching changes come question marks. What worked for Mack Brown might not have the same affect on the hardball squad. But again with a brand name like the University of Texas, and the state’s natural resource of warm weather fostering longer schedules for the youth to play the sport, you have to think 30 wins will be “easy” to eclipse in 2013.

Volleyball:

2010: 27-6 (16-2)

Going 16-2 in conference play is usually good enough to win any conference title in any sport. However when the Nebraska Cornhuskers are in your volleyball conference, 16-2 means you're the runner up. This Longhorn team made it all the way to the National Championship Semi-finals despite not winning their conference crown. It was Penn State who sent the ladies back to Austin.

2011: 25-5 (15-1)

Going 15-1 in conference play is usually good enough to win any conference title in any sport. Without the Nebraska Cornhuskers in your volleyball conference, 15-1 does exactly that. The Longhorn volleyball team would make it all the way to the NCAA regional finals, only to lose to the UCLA bruins.

In 2012, you have to think Texas is poised to repeat for the conference crown now that Nebraska won't ever cross their regular season paths.

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