Last nights games signaled the beginning of college football season and for all the excitement that brings it sadly also signals the end of State of the Union season, that magical time of year when we invite fans from all around middle America here to tell us we're unfunny racists. Like our moms don't already tell us that.
For this last SOTU I'm going to forgo the usual depth chart and schematic analysis for a couple of reasons, the first being that we've all pretty much spent the entire off season doing that and the other being that when I was supposed to be researching this post I was watching The Burbs on cable. The crazy vet's wife was hot. Anyway I think Roger Roesler starts at guard for us or something.
Don't mock the Pizza Dude Corey. That's you in three years.
Instead I'd like to take a look at the program and its overall competitive footing and there seems no better place to start than examining the vast difference between our expectations today and where they were a year ago. At this time last year I don't mind telling you that I saw 8-5 as a real possibility. I thought we'd made some solid coaching upgrades in the off season but was unsure of how soon they could really impact the program. From a depth chart standpoint it looked a lot like 1999 to me and I thought the overall record would reflect that. Instead what we enjoyed was one of the most gratifying years of Mack Brown's tenure. The results were gratifying not just because of how much was accomplished but also the fact that it was achieved by what was far from a perfect team from a talent/experience standpoint. What last year's team was, was disciplined, well conditioned and persevering. That's known as well coached and it's 180 degrees from where the team had been just a year before that. That leaves us with a far different outlook going forward as we make the transition from the Brown Era to the Muschamp Administration, a process I think may begin after this year.
I say begin as I think Will Muschamp retains a majority of the current staff when he steps into the head job. I would assume Cleve Bryant goes when (and possibly where) Brown does. There's been speculation about the retirements of Tolleson and MacWhorter for some time now and I'm guessing Mack's departure may seem like as good a time as any to them. Greg Davis intentions are anyone's guess. If he wants to stay I assume Muschamp lets him but he's another guy who's been with Mack for most of his career and I'd expect him to bow out when he does. Some tuned in folks think otherwise so who knows? It's also obvious that Applewhite was brought to this staff with the understanding that he'd get the offensive reins at some point. Akina isn't retirement age yet and isn't likely to get a better gig.
So I would say at most Muschamp has to restaff two to three positions and that will be an opportunity to address one of the staff's biggest vulnerabilities right now, that being its lack of a great recruiting closer. When Oscar Giles first joined the staff I thought he might be that guy but his record since the 2007 class has been disappointing. Muschamp and Applewhite are both tireless and fearless on the recruiting trails and that's a great sign but neither has shown lock down ability to this point. Now thankfully Mack's done such a great job of making Texas the premium brand in the state that we can basically just toss out offers to the top twenty five players in the state, accept the commitments of 19 of them and sign the best or second class team in the conference. Or at least that's been the case the past couple of years. Opposing coaches are once again adjusting and kids are getting offers and interest earlier than ever and it's costing us. This has happened to Brown in the past and he's always changed his own game and ended up pacing everyone else yet again. It'll be interesting to see how Muschamp addresses this.
Also along those lines is the need to deal with the increasing frequency of recruiting malfeasance and its impact on Texas. Every year it gets worse and with every wrist slap the NCAA signals to those schools so inclined to play the game that it isn't the least bit interested in stopping them. This has already impacted Texas a number of times but nowhere more so than at tailback. For those who care to play the 'We're Texas; we'll always get our guys,' card, I present to you the eighties and nineties. This stuff affects us and the worse it gets the greater the need is for us to address it publicly and this probably needs to be done by the athletic director and not the head coach.
Beyond these concerns however, the Texas football program is operating at a level very rarely seen. Organizationally we're just incredibly strong at pretty much every level right now and all the indications from its next generation of caretakers is that they are highly motivated individuals who put a premium on accountability. That's a pretty good place to start but in Will Muschamp's case we've also seen someone who understands the need to put players in their best position to succeed as well as an ability to innovate. None of that guarantees his success with this program but it's a damned strong skill set to bring to the job.
So here we sit, a little more than twenty four hours until kickoff of a season we have every right to feel great about but also probably six to eighteen months from a new chapter in Longhorn Football about which we again have every reason to look toward with hopeful confidence.
All that makes tomorrow even easier to enjoy and I'll see you there. For any of you that may not yet have tickets there are plenty available on the secondary market, including some site called vividseats.com. I discovered this while doing a quick search for... you know what, it's not important.