How bad was Texas recruiting on the offensive side of the ball from 2006 to 2009? This bad. In that period Texas recruited 40 offensive players, a number 50% larger than the defense had (27). Here is what an offense made up of the best 11 recruits from that era looks like:
WR John Chiles
WR Malcolm Williams
WR James Kirkendoll
TE Blaine Irby
RB Fozzy Whittaker
QB Sherrod Harris
T Britt Mitchell
G Kyle Hix
C David Snow
G Michael Huey
T Trey Allen
A couple of nice players, but also a lot of guys who really are no more than depth contributors on a good team. I don’t believe any of the above players received any conference awards. No offensive players from those three classes were drafted, and I don’t expect any to be drafted. Don’t believe this is the best offensive lineup that can be drawn from those classes? Check them out for yourself. Note- I purposefully did not count two transferred players, G.J. Kinne and Antoine Hicks, who have shown elsewhere that they are stars. If Texas had wanted to keep them, we would have treated them accordingly in order to keep them around.
With only 27 scholarships, what kind of defense could you draw up?
DE Sam Acho (KC Chiefs starter)
DT Kheeston Randall (will be drafted)
DT Lamarr Houston (Oakland Raiders)
DE Sergio Kindle (Ravens)
LB Emmanuel Acho (expect to be drafted)
LB Keenan Robinson (expect to be drafted)
S Earl Thomas (Seahawk star)
S Blake Gideon
S Chykie Brown (Ravens)
CB Curtis Brown (Steelers)
CB Aaron Williams (started for Bills until hurt)
Now do you see how we managed to play for a MNC in 2009, despite offensive scouting that would make Jerry Jones snort in derision?
Note that our offensive recruits were mostly 4 stars, and parts of nationally ranked classes, and you have to ask if the Rivals rankings mean anything. I think recruits with Texas interest got slight boosts, but nothing conspiratorial. I believe that modestly talented players recruited by Texas were a little over-rated, that the Texas coaches were satisfied with "good enough", and that the Davis/Brown offense wasn’t really the place for the modestly talented player to reach his potential (the Davis/Brown offense was based on matching up great players one-on-one with less-than-great opponents, and capitalizing on the targeted victories).
In a chat a couple of weeks ago, Bohls noted that TAMU president Bowen Loftin (Bohls has better connections in the TAMU AD than UT AD) believed Texas and DeLoss Dodds are pressuring other schools in-state to not schedule TAMU. Let’s ponder that a little.
First off, if TAMU wants to play schools in state, why did they leave the Big 12? Well, they want the status and money from the SEC, and a hoped for boost in recruiting, but they recognize that doesn’t mean much if they can’t demonstrate superiority to their in-state peers. We all value water cooler talk, and the Ags recognize there is only so much, "SEC! SEC!" their co-workers will take before they fake an urgent text message and get away. In other words, they want the camaraderie of Texas football – the games to look to, the games to rehash.
Next, let’s ask if Texas has the ability to force other schools to not schedule TAMU. I don’t think so. Baylor, Texas Tech, et. al. have all shown independence from UT in the past, and even relish tweaking Bellmont when they can. UT needs TCU, TT, and BU to stay in the Big 12 for conference viability, and of course must play them every year. Does Texas have influence over SMU, UH, and Rice? Maybe. Texas has played Rice regularly, providing them with paydays, trips to Austin, and TV slots. Texas has stopped scheduling UH and has not scheduled SMU.
Next, let’s consider why these schools might want to play the Ags, absent any pressure to ignore them. Does TAMU want to schedule TCU? If you’re TCU’s AD, you might ask yourselves why they passed on the opportunity to do so at any time in the last 16 years. After the SWC collapsed, TCU would have loved a game against the Ags. Texas scheduled the Frogs. So did Baylor. So did the Red Raiders. Only the Ags ignored them. Why would TCU schedule them now, when they are in the club and have games with TT, UT, and BU every year, on a home-and-home basis?
Why would Baylor and Texas Tech schedule the Ags, after the way they left the conference? Byrne took shots at the Red Raiders, and Loftin at the Bears. Can you blame them for wanting a cooling-off period? Can they be forgiven for not subordinating their athletic goals to fit the Aggies’ view of how the world should work? Besides, the SEC is a competitor with the Big 12 for TV revenue. Conference unity argues against helping their brand.
What about UH, Rice, and SMU? Why wouldn’t they schedule the Ags? Frankly, they can’t be blamed for being cautious, and there might be some unspoken but implied influence at work here. The Big 12 has 10 teams with TCU and WVU added. UH, SMU, and (presumably) Rice would like to be in a AQ conference. The Big 12 is an option they would consider a prime choice (I know SMU and UH are joining the Big East. Bear with me). They might be cautious about doing anything that might alienate the Big 12, a possible future home.
And, of course, there is another consideration. If the Ags schedule UH and SMU, are they going to be home-and-home contracts? In their 32,000 seat stadiums. The Mustangs and Cougars couldn’t be blamed for insisting on such an arrangement. Now that they’re in the Big East, and the Ags are a little marginalized in state, they can’t be expected to agree to any away-home-and-away agreements.
So, with all of these solid reasons for in state schools to be slow to agree to games with the Ags, why would the Ags blame Texas? I think it’s because their world view insists on a belief that their SEC move was not based on greed or a desire to upset a distasteful competitive balance, but rather a strike for justice and liberty. They need to believe that Texas, the eternal antagonist, forced them to break long term rivalries and partnerships. The idea that other schools in the state view them as anything less than freedom’s champions, or just might not be thrilled to associate with them athletically, is unthinkable.
Texas was a young team last year. We had two seniors starting on offense (Snow and Whittaker, with Whittaker only playing part of the time), and four on defense (Randall, Acho, Robinson, and Gideon). With a tiny senior class, we will be young again next year. Seniors expected to start in 2012 are Goodwin, Grant, Vaccaro, and Okafor. Maybe Roberson, if you count our #1 fullback as a starter. Think what our lineup will look like if Vaccaro and Okafor leave early.
That said, we won’t need the seniors on the field as much in 2012 as we did in 2011. The young guys will have some experience under their belts. We got heavy playing time from true freshmen Brown, Bergeron, Shipley, Ash, and Diggs. It’s crazy to think that we relied more on true freshmen than seniors in 2011. It won’t be the same in 2012.