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While more money and quality opponents are great benefits to going independent, it means nothing if the Longhorns cannot find success on the field. Luckily, this will not be a problem.
Even right now, Texas has the coaching, the talent and the recruiting prowess to compete on a national level as an independent.
Starting with coaching, Mack Brown has coached at the pressure-cooker that is Texas football since 1998. In that time, he has dealt with every kind of success and failure there is in the coaching world.
He's experienced the elation of winning a national championship contrasted with the masses calling for his head after the debacle that was 2010. Now Brown is on the rebuilding trail after cleaning house a little over a year ago.
Mack Brown has seen it all and is no stranger to the type of scrutiny he would face as the head coach of an independent Longhorns team.
Not only would Brown be subject to the same criticisms as Notre Dame coaches both past and present, but his assistant coaches would as well.
And they can handle it, too.
Both Bryan Harsin and Manny Diaz showed up as household names, and fans looked to both of them as saviors for a team that seemed lost on the field the year before. They answered with a 3-game improvement in 2011, meeting the expectations and earning a special place in the hearts of all UT fans.
The transition to national criticism may be more trying, but these two have been battle-tested at big programs their entire careers and will have no problem staying focused.
As for the players, most of these guys have grown up playing high school football in Texas which is way more pressure-packed than anyone not from Texas could understand. Furthermore, they would not be playing at a place like Texas if they could not handle expectations.
Not to mention this team is just built to be able to play against anyone, evidenced last year by the fact that they ranked No. 1 in the conference in passing defense, rushing defense and total defense. This year, they seem favorites to do it again with guys like Jackson Jeffcoat along the line and a secondary that sticks to receivers like their shadows.
That's just the defense.
This year alone, the Longhorns have furthered their commitment to the power running game by fielding 2012's top running back in Johnathan Gray along with last year's standouts Joe Bergeron and Malcolm Brown. And if Alabama and LSU taught us anything last year, it's that you can beat literally anybody and everybody with a good running game and an even better defense.
Not only does Texas have the coaching and talent to get it done as an independent, but Mack Brown and his staff can recruit with the absolute best of them.
Since 2006, they have not had a recruiting class ranked outside of the top 10 and have been in the top three five times, not to mention they already have a top-five class lined up for 2013, according to ESPN. Since being able to recruit on a national level will be a must should the Longhorns become an independent, I would say they have that part covered as well.
Coaches that can handle national-level scrutiny? Check. Players that can play with anybody? Check. Ability to recruit on a national scale? Check.
Texas may not feel pressed to become an independent after the efforts it put in to hold the conference together, but they certainly have the ability to go out on their own should the need arise.