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The Times' preseason college football countdown: No. 25 Texas

The Longhorns finished 5-7 last season, and the pressure is on as the school launches its own sports network.

August 06, 2011|Chris Dufresne
  • Although the Texas Longhorns could whoop it up during a nonconference victory over Florida Atlantic last fall, Coach Mack Brown's team still finished 5-7 overall.
Although the Texas Longhorns could whoop it up during a nonconference victory… (Eric Gay / Associated Press )

It remains illegal in Texas to shoot a buffalo from the second story of a hotel, milk another person's cow, drive without windshield wipers and for Texas to finish 5-7.

What happened?

Two years ago, we put the No.1 saddle on Texas and rode the Longhorns all the way to the national title game at the Rose Bowl.


Texas was playing Alabama off its feet early before a freak injury caused Colt McCoy to lose throwing-arm feeling, and that probably caused the Longhorns to lose the national title.

The positive takeout was the backup baptism-by-fire play of quarterback Garrett Gilbert. He overcame a jar of jitters to nearly rescue his team in the end. The experience was supposed to prove invaluable when he inherited McCoy's job in 2010.

Instead, Gilbert spit the bit, throwing seven more interceptions (17) than touchdowns (10) as Texas skidded about five victories short of the Austin city win limit.

The county judge ordered 150 hours of community service and a Two-Step program.

Coach Mack Brown handed several assistant coaches, including 13-year offensive coordinator Greg Davis, their hats.

Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, Texas' designated "coach-in-waiting," left when he heard there was no wait at Florida.

Brown brought in Bryan Harsin, Boise State's whiz-bang offensive coordinator, to design plays that actually lead to the end zone.

The incredible part is what minimal impact a lousy season has had on Texas' power and influence.

The school that lost every home game last year except against Wyoming continued to rule with an iron fist (full of dollars).

ESPN overlooked home losses to UCLA, Baylor, Iowa State and agreed to launch the Longhorn Network to the tune of $300 million over 20 years.

This went over like a Democrat in Crawford in the state and the Big 12, especially when it was learned Texas would use its network to televise high school games.

If that's not a recruiting advantage, good people argued, Angus isn't beef.

The issue ignited a firestorm that has led to a temporary one-year moratorium on the Longhorn Network showing prep games.

You wonder if Texas had finished 7-5, instead of 5-7, whether the school would have been able to legally change Oklahoma's fight song.

To make this network work, though, Texas football has to start winning big, although there are too many new faces and moving parts to think it might be this year.

"We obviously have a lot of questions that we have to get answered over the next month," Brown said.

The hope is that Gilbert will flourish in a new offense and that Manny Diaz, the new defensive coordinator from Mississippi State, can get his players to ring a few bells.

If Gilbert can't do it, there's a younger version of Colt McCoy willing to try. It's Case McCoy, Colt's younger brother.

There's huge pressure on Texas football. Having your own network deal is no guarantee of football success. Ask NBC and Notre Dame.

The eyes of Texas (especially A&M) are upon you.

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