By Kirk Bohls
Where have we seen this before?
More to the point, are we going to see it again?
Mack Brown’s got it down pat by now. Lose by a lopsided margin to Oklahoma, this time by 63-21. Grovel in front of fans and media. Claim such a disgraceful performance is unacceptable.
But what does that mean?
Smaller pay raises.
Another coaching staff shakeup.
Depth chart shakeup.
More than all that, Texas needs a makeover. Or a Mack-over, because too many have to be wondering if the Texas coach who remade Longhorns football and brought it the first national championship in 35 years is the same coach who has to rebuild it back into the powerhouse he so desperately yearns for it to be.
For now, Texas is nothing more than Nebraska in better uniforms. Neither great program seems nationally relevant at the moment.
Brown’s program faces a serious crossroads after yet another humiliating loss to Oklahoma.
Saturday’s beatdown administered by a really solid — but hardly spectacular, given only a competent quarterback — Sooners team represented another, not unfamiliar low for Brown’s team.
By the time Texas got its initial first down of the game, OU had built a 27-2 lead and had uncorked a 95-yard touchdown run and a 73-yard catch-and-run play by Sooners fullback Trey Millard. The Sooners got four touchdown runs from backup quarterback Blake Bell, who moonlights as a wrecking ball. Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro accurately said OU “ran the ball down our throats.”
OU had piled up an impressive 407 of its 677 yards by halftime, leaving nothing but the score to the imagination. Texas’ offense matched its defense’s futility by failing to score until Case McCoy — the lone bright spot — directed two touchdowns in the last five minutes against an OU defense of more backups than starters. On nine of Texas’ first 12 possessions, the Longhorns punted eight times after three-and-out series and gave up a safety once in just a pathetic display.
Texas is no closer to being a strong, physical team than it was before Mack’s proclamation he wanted to out-SEC his Big 12 opponents. OU owned both lines of scrimmage and, well, everything else. Texas remains a finesse team. Where’s the toughness?
What’s odd is Brown quotes his hero, Darrell Royal, so often that he does it in his sleep. But DKR would call out his team and demand accountability. Brown soft-pedals his grievances out of fear of offending mommas and high school coaches. It filters down to the players.
“We’ve just got to man up,” Horns wideout Mike Davis said.
Brown finds himself in the throes of yet another ugly losing streak to Bob Stoops, one that now’s reached three straight. OU has outscored Texas 126-58 in that span. Four of Texas’ worst five defeats in this series have come under Brown’s watch, all by 38 points or more.
Mack finds himself at risk of losing his hardcore base, the Longhorn faithful that sees the national championship even if it’s way back in the rear view mirror seven years ago. Texas has been at its very best under Mack when he’s had two record-setting quarterbacks. While David Ash was hardly the sole reason for Saturday’s meltdown, he’s not close to the level of a Vince Young or Colt McCoy.
Mack’s program has spiraled out of regular Top 10 contention as Bobby Bowden’s did during his final, sad years at Florida State. Could Mack face the same fate? Has he lost the ability to motivate, coach, develop four- and five-star players or hire a staff that can?
Texas (4-2 overall, 1-2 in the Big 12) gave a false read after winning its first four games against nobodies and pressing an outstanding West Virginia team that was exposed Saturday by Texas Tech.
What are the reasons?
Poor attention to fundamentals of tackling and blocking.
Weak non-conference scheduling.
A lack of accountability from everyone at Texas, none of whom even see smoke in Rome.
Something’s broken. Big-time broken. And if Texas is content with going to Holiday Bowls and winning eight and hoping for nine, then that may become the new acceptable.
Through the last 2 ½ seasons, Texas is an unimpressive 17-14, and has now lost nine straight games to teams ranked in the AP’s Top 25. That’s not just a problem; it’s a pattern. The Longhorns could well slip out of all the polls.
Certainly, Texas has the meat-grinder portion of its schedule out of the way, although Baylor has beaten the Longhorns two straight years and won’t be intimidated this week. Not sure anybody is any more.