If you've ever tried to follow a college sport on the internet, chances are you've seen, joined in, or started a debate on how well your team "should" do.
If you've ever tried to follow a Texas sport on the internet, chances are you've already etched "Brooks was here" on a support beam and ended it already.
This is because any major program's message boards have the same protocol: Why aren't we better? vs. shut the fuck up you God damn whiner. The rest is filled with pictures of Erin Andrews.
Rooting for a team in college is a matter of perspective. If Texas had gone 10-3 12 years ago, and ended their season with a shellacking of a nationally ranked program, we'd have held a parade at Waterloo Park. Now it merely earns groans of jealousy as we watch WVU beat the snot out of OU like everybody seems to be able to do so easily now.
Winning begat expectation, so sayeth our Lord Mack Brown.
starters vs depth
What is Texas' biggest concern, personnel-wise? Defensive tackle, you'd say. You wouldn't be wrong. The general narrative is that we are extremely thin there, worryingly so. You'd be wrong.
If you swapped our guys with Missouri, or Tech, or OSU, or Nebraska, we'd all be worrying about Roy Miller or that young upstart Lamarr Houston, and wondering how we were going to stop anybody with our cast of no names.
Note that nobody is going to argue that we will not be great if Roy Miller gets hurt, or next year when he graduates. But if you don't have bodies at DT, then you tell them to get low and let somebody else make plays. It's not ideal, but as long as you have playmakers somewhere then you'll be OK.
Two things contribute to this. One, Mack Brown has pretty much set the standard on the recruiting trail for the last decade. More than that, though, he's always had some weird fascination with being 8 deep everywhere. He's talked about it ever since he's step foot on campus, the consequence being that we all wring our hands whenever we don't have a 4th stringer capable of stepping in and playing at a high level.
It's silly to worry about stopping one or two guys on other teams while we worry about not having 15 great players. Why do people worry about Tech? Crabtree. A&M? Goodson. OSU? Barry Sanders, presumably.
Darkhorse teams are expected to only have a few good players here and there before they get the media thumbs up. Texas is supposed to have depth.
Second, Texas fans are just used to kids not developing. The ones that come in a superstar are good, everybody else, not so much. This has changed lately, but the last two years of mediocre talent gracing the grass of DKR has understandably set back any progress we had made mentally as a fanbase. I contend this is just a product of bad players, as evidenced by the continued growth of players like Deon Beasley, Robert Muckelroy, and even Sergio Kindle, while the usual suspects stagnated.
It's not unreasonable to think Michael Wilcoxin or Christian Scott will become useful players, but it's not what we're conditioned to think. You can go to any sports bar in Austin and listen to grown men bite their nails to the bone about the lousy depth on defense, or lack of playmakers on offense, and ever the pompous windbag contrarian, even I cannot argue.
Mack might have the best DC of his career, but nobody on this team has earned the benefit of the doubt. Mac McWhorter is the best collegiate OL coach in the country and even he put out mediocre units the last couple years. Everybody deserves the skepticism.
Art Briles is a good coach. So is Mike Sherman. Neither will be successful.
Guy Morriss and Dennis Franchione were also good coaches. The fact that Fran "squeezed" 9 wins out of what essentially amounted to a Fresno State level roster was nothing short of COY material. He got fired for all the right reasons, of course, the point is only that A&M doesn't exist in a vacuum. There are other good coaches in the conference, with a few great ones, who will dilute your efforts to win. If you want to be great in a power conference, you either have to have an exceptional coach, cheat, or have your competition wither under suddenly higher academic standards or the refusal to fire Greg Davis.
Mike Sherman was a head coach in the NFL, and unless you're Rich Kotite, that earns you a lifetime membership into the You Can't Say I Suck club. He won't suck. He just isn't exceptional. No kid in inner city Houston is going to get excited about playing for him.
Art Briles is an upgrade from Morriss, I think, but he will likely never have the defense that Bill Bradley brought, oh and also he is at Baylor.
The Big 12 hasn't been the same since KSU and NU both fell to earth with a thud, but it's not the WAC. You can't win by just by not sucking. You have to be better than 5-6 good teams, and I can't see that happening any place with a new coach. There are only so many Stoopses/Manginos out there.