Whoever replaces Mack Brown will have to institute a major culture change.
Report: Art Briles would take Texas job if offered http://t.co/RDILZcU25O— Baylor News (@BaylorNews) December 29, 2013
The 'Horns need a culture change. They have gone from a perennial contender on the national scene to a them that has lost its edge and become accustomed to mediocrity. An uncompetitive 30-7 loss to Oregon serves as the latest example of this regression.
The Longhorns can be labeled as soft and complacent. They can be accused of paying more attention to the country's perception of them than what they actually do on the field.
The next man up, whoever he may be, has to change all of that.
The Perception That Texas is Soft
Between last season's rash of missed tackles and getting pushed around in five losses this season, Texas has earned a reputation for being soft. That is not a quality shared amongst winning programs.
The notion that the Longhorns lack toughness may not be new, as B/R's Lisa Horne points out, but it's undeniable at this point. The 'Horns lost all five of their games this season by 19 or more points, including the infamous 40-21 drubbing in which BYU ran up 550 rushing yards.
Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel wrote a scathing profile of the program's ignominious label. In it, he cites NFL scouts that have stated they perceive a "spoiled mentality" from Texas' athletes as well as a "'country club atmosphere."
If that's the case, it is little surprise that Texas will finish outside the Top 25 for the third time in four years. It is even less surprising that the Longhorns have not had an offensive lineman, a position that requires true toughness, go in the first round since 2002.
The next Texas coach has to work on changing this perception from his first day on the job. If the Longhorns are going to make a return to the top, they have to bring the same edge that teams have brought against them on a weekly basis.
The Head Coach Being a CEO
Mack Brown has been called a CEO throughout his tenure at Texas, troubling himself more with the off-field product than his team's Saturday showings. The next guy has to be all about the game.
Between the Longhorn Network and other significant media obligations, Brown came off as more of a manager than an Xs and Os football coach. It was all fine and dandy when he was reeling off nine 10-win seasons in row, but hard to justify when you're 30-21 over your last four seasons.
This is an area in which the entire athletic department has to bend. In the arms race that is modern college football, the head coach's first and foremost priority must be producing wins. Patterson and the rest of the university have to make it clear that football will come first, second and third before the media.
Being the most popular guy in the game is nice, but never at the expense of valuable preparation time.
The Expectation That Texas Will Win No Matter What
Fans expect Texas to win, and players at Texas should expect to win every game they play. That confidence is appropriate until it becomes entitlement, which the Longhorns have displayed in recent years.
How else do you describe a team that was down 7-0 to New Mexico State, which has not played in a bowl since 1960, at home? What else would explain the lack of urgency in the aforementioned BYU game?
The answer is that the Longhorns felt they just had to show up. Instead of coming out swinging, they trusted their overall superior talent to carry them.
Those expectations and misguided self-perceptions need to be squashed. Texas' next head coach has to have his guys playing their hardest on every snap, even if it means going to town on a non-conference opponent. Playing at half-speed does nobody any favors.
The Continued Failure to Take Advantage of Talent
According to Rivals.com, the Texas Longhorns produced a top-five recruiting class every year between 2009 and 2012. However, Texas is just 30-21 with only two first-round picks since 2010.
Is the discrepancy between wins and recruited talent the result of bringing in the wrong players? Former safety Kenny Vaccaro thinks so, telling the New Orleans Times-Picayune, "I think the mentality at Texas isn't where it needs to right now."
Perhaps Vaccaro is right, as Texas has failed to mine its considerable, nationwide talent base. Mack Brown wanted Johnny Manziel and Robert Griffin III to play defensive back, and he never returned Jameis Winston's calls. As you know, all three are now Heisman Trophy winners for other programs.
The problem could also be that recruits aren't seeing results. Former 5-star quarterback Garrett Gilbert regressed at Texas, and the lack of high draft picks has not acquitted the program of any fault.
The Longhorns' next head coach has to turn talent into both wins and first-round picks. Doing less with more is not acceptable at Texas.