Even if Texas can't cash in on its golden situation in 2013, the Longhorns are well-positioned to rule the Big 12 for at least the next five years.
Yes, with what is arguably the most experienced squad in the nation this season, Texas ought to be able to win its first conference crown since 2009, and beyond that, the long-term forecast is bright.
This is the case even though Texas hasn’t managed to cash in on its advantageous situation over the past three seasons.
Though there is obviously nothing definite about long-term predictions in the volatile world of college football, the bottom line with Texas is it will have few excuses not to pump out title teams between this season and 2017.
Texas has out-recruited all but a few contenders nationwide since Mack Brown took the reins in Austin in 1998. As a result, the Longhorns have one of the most talent-rich squads in the nation.
Yes, even with Texas’ epically “down” class of 2013, which was ranked No. 24 by Rivals.com, the Longhorns still are far and away the top recruiters in the Big 12.
To illustrate, Texas’ average recruiting class ranking from 2010 to 2013 is No. 7, while Oklahoma, the next closest competitor, lags behind at No. 11. The next closest program is Oklahoma State at No. 31.
When you throw out the class of 2013, the Longhorns' average ranking rises all the way to No. 2, while the Sooners stay at No. 11.
Looking ahead, Texas comes into this season with a senior class that was brought in as the No. 3 class in 2010, a junior group that came in at No. 3 in 2011 and a sophomore class that was signed at No. 2 in 2012.
Moving toward 2017, with the exception of the 2013 group, there is no reason why the Longhorns won’t rule the league in recruiting for the next five seasons.
So then, given the richest talent pool in the league and adding in the best coaching staff—the subject of the next slide—Texas should dominate the Big 12 in the years ahead.
Just in case there are any naysayers, remember that since 2007 no team has made the BCS title game that didn’t have a senior class that had a recruiting rank of lower than No. 15 and a junior class that was brought in at lower than No. 22.
Texas and Oklahoma are the only two teams in the Big 12 that meet that criteria, with the Longhorns having a significant edge over the Sooners.
Even if Mack Brown can successfully engineer a complete revival of Texas football in 2013, you have to figure that his tenure in Austin is reaching the end of its natural lifespan.
There are two scenarios that make the most sense for the end of Brown’s career. Either Texas wins the Big 12 in ’13, goes to a BCS bowl and, perhaps more, and he retires with the honor he deserves. Or the 'Horns take all the promise of the upcoming season and crash and burn, winning only eight or nine games, and Brown is forced to retire.
If you don’t think the more negative outcome is a realistic turn of events, remember that Brown has won three Big 12 titles since taking over at Texas in 1998, while Bob Stoops has captured eight conference crowns since coming to Oklahoma in 1999.
In other words, job security is always relative—even if you are Brown.
You could argue that the coaching situation is the linchpin holding together the Longhorns' bid to dominate the Big 12 over the next five seasons.
The Longhorns must find a coaching staff which can transform the heaps of raw talent and rich assets into a winning football team.
To put it another way, Texas needs the right leadership to return to being a squad that dominates its yearly rivals.
This means that realistically Brown must go, and since he’s close to being gone, that makes the coaching situation an asset as opposed to a liability.
Regardless of which names actually surface should a coaching search get underway in Austin, the short list should include guys like Vanderbilt’s James Franklin, who has managed to turn Commodore football on its head since arriving in 2011.
Indeed, what happens when a guy with that much passion, experience and never-say-die attitude rolls into Austin and takes the reins?
Texas AD Deloss Dodds
According to USA Today sports’ college athletics finances database, which for six years has tracked revenues and expenses for 225 D-I athletic programs which are required to release financial data, Texas earned more money than other school in the nation in 2011.
Yes, the Longhorns' athletics package brought in $150,295,926 in 2011, while the next closest competitor—Ohio State—earned $131 million.
The next closest program in the Big 12 was Oklahoma with $104 million, followed by Oklahoma State with $82 million.
All this is pretty simple. Texas has more cash to work with than any other athletic program in the nation.
This equals better facilities, higher coaches's salaries, bigger budgets for items like recruiting and staff, and offers a level of class that enhances the possibility to win rather than hinders it.
This helps Texas to win in five years, in 10 and in 20.
If you look at Texas’ non-conference schedule from 2013 to 2017, it’s easy to see that given the right staff and continued recruiting wins, the Longhorns are—once again—well-positioned to win a bunch of games.
For 2013, the 'Horns have home games vs. New Mexico State and Ole Miss, and a road game with BYU.
In 2014, Texas won’t have to leave the Lone Star State to complete its non-conference schedule The Longhorns play North Texas and BYU in Austin, and have a showdown with UCLA in mid-September at Cowboys Stadium in Austin.
In 2015, the Longhorns pick up the front end of a home-and-away with a blockbuster trip to Notre Dame and then welcome Rice and Cal to Austin.
In 2016, Texas welcomes the Irish and UTEP for home games and then travels to Cal.
Wrapping up the five-year plan in 2017, the 'Horns welcome Maryland and UCF in Austin, then travel to USC for the front end of another big-time home-and-away series.
With Notre Dame and USC on the radar, Texas’ upcoming slate of non-conference opponents can’t be called “easy." That said, it definitely can be termed “do-able,” especially given the balance of the non-Big 12 foes
The other element of Texas’ schedule that is favorable is that its annual grudge fest with Oklahoma is neutrally sited in Dallas.
Yes, while other Big 12 squads have to travel to Norman every other year to face the Sooners—where Oklahoma is 58-4 since 2003—the Longhorns get Stoops and Co. at what is a neutral site.
With Texas A&M, Nebraska, Colorado and Missouri off to greener pastures—and West Virginia and TCU in the mix—it could be argued that the Big 12 has actually become a bit easier to win.
Add in that the conference championship game—an affair which offered participants the opportunity to lose an extra game—has been gone since 2011, and the situation becomes even more favorable.
And while this set-up is advantageous for all current 10 members of the Big 12, Texas still has the most money and the best recruiting numbers, putting the Longhorns—once again—in the proverbial catbird’s seat.
Yes, while squads such as Oregon, Alabama, Ohio State and Florida State have to risk losing a conference championship game, Texas just has to win more conference games than any other league member to win the title.
Though this could change if the Big 12 expanded—a scenario to be discussed in the next slide—the situation is currently static.
The other component of the Big 12 situation which could help Texas is the possibility of conference realignment.
With only 10 schools in the Big 12, you have to figure at some point the league will be forced to expand to keep up.
On one hand, it’s easy to argue that even if the Big 12 did extend membership offers to prospective programs, it would take several years to ink a deal, meaning that it would have minimal impact on Texas for the next five years..
On the other hand, as quickly as realignment deals have been pushed through, it’s realistic to think that if it’s going to happen, it could happen as soon as 2016 or 2017.
Regardless, additional league members figure to be of the Longhorns' choosing, since they are the conference's most influential member.
Simply put, the Texas brass will likely be at the forefront of any decision-making, and therefore these rulings will likely benefit the 'Horns.
If you’re in the driver’s seat, you’re going to steer the bus to the final destination which most suits your current needs.
Looming on the horizon for the 2014 season is the new College Football Playoff, a four-team bracket for the national championship that will be selected by a committee as opposed to computer formulas.
This approach will do nothing but help teams like Texas, Ohio State, Notre Dame, USC, Alabama, Michigan and Florida, which offer fanbases that historically travel well, have a huge TV draw and amp up merchandising opportunities.
Think about it this way: If the selection committee has a choice between Mississippi State, Michigan State and Texas for a slot in the championship sweepstakes, who will it pick?
Yes, if it comes down to selecting the “best” squad between Cal, Alabama or N.C. State…who goes?
It’s pretty obvious that big-name brands like Texas win in a “committee” approach.