For a program that hasn’t won a Big 12 Title since 2009, and is on its’ fourth coach over the past eight seasons, expectations remain high for it on the national landscape.
Texas is ranked No. 21 in the preseason AP Poll that was released Tuesday, but to College football fanatics it’s nothing more than fools gold. After all, the Longhorns have become the poster boys for underachieving three out of the past four seasons.
Texas started No. 14 and finished 19th last year. The Longhorns started the 2019 season ranked No. 10, but later finished 25th. Not to mention Texas was No. 23 in the 2017 preseason AP Poll, and finished that year unranked.
Longhorn fans are hoping new coach Steve Sarkisian will bring the success he endured at Alabama. Although Texas has several studs on both sides of the ball, it’s not the talent Sarkisian was operating with in Tuscaloosa. The 47-year old coach has yet to name a starter at quarterback. And whoever takes the helms of the offense, they’ll have to replace Sam Ehlinger’s experience, leadership and production.
With the elite talent returning at the skill positions, Texas is expecting a smooth transition. People have been comparing running back Bijan Robinson to USC legend Reggie Bush, in terms of vision and quickness. It’s hard to argue against that when the rusher averaged over eight yards per carry last season. However, being mentioned in the same sentence as a Heisman Trophy winner has put a bullseye on Robinson’s back.
Joshua Moore is arguably the best wide receiver in the league, and he makes sure everyone knows it when he flexes his biceps after scoring touchdowns. The Longhorns’ offensive line is talented and experienced, but the unit is going to miss Samuel Cosmi’s presence and leadership.
On the defensive side of the ball Texas has to replace All-Big 12 performers Joseph Ossai and Chris Brown. Both were enforcers in the front seven and secondary. The Longhorns finished ninth in the Big 12 and 109th in the FBS in passing yards allowed. That’s a number that has to change if the team expects to take that next step.
Sarkisian has arrived in Austin with a ton of hype, so there’s some pressure on him to have immediate success. His stints with Washington and USC were average at best, and those records won’t satisfy Texas fans. Still, everyone is about to find out what can happen for a coach after Nick Saban takes him under his wing.
Regardless of the matter, Sarkisian is being paid $5.2 million a year by a blue blood program desperate to make a splash on the national scene. The first two games will tell fans everything they need to know about Texas this fall. Louisiana is one of the best Group of Five teams that upset Iowa State in last year’s opener and Arkansas will be improved in Sam Pittman’s second season.
The Longhorns’ move to the SEC took the College football world by storm last month. Despite the move being official in July of 2024, it’s still uncertain if it’ll stay that way. In the meantime fans can expect there’s going to be some bad blood between the Texas and the Big 12. That’s why players should expect the conference officials won’t be too favorable on calls, and foes will continue to do the Horns Down mockery.
Texas wants to change the narrative of under achieving. However, if the trend continues for the program, AP’s top-20 ranking was a bit premature.