The Great State of Texas is blessed with an abundance of quite a few things to enjoy. Beautiful landscapes of all kinds, from plains to hills. Beautiful lakes and rivers to float on and cool off on those hot summer days. But most of all, the Lonestar State is blessed with a multitude of great football programs, each with their own unique identity, style and fans.
Like the State itself, college football in Texas has in recent years been ruled and led by the folks down in Austin.
The University of Texas Longhorns have been a dominant force for the past decade or so and don’t seem to be taking their foot off of the gas just yet.
Mack Brown has built a program that annually dominates both on the field and in offseason recruiting, having for the most part, their pick of any high school players that the State of Texas has to offer.
They may lose a few recruits here and there to their neighbors to the north, Oklahoma or their neighbors to the east, LSU, but for all intents and purposes, Brown assembles his team as he likes each year.
2010 was no exception, with the Longhorns turning in another top five recruiting class.
But are the Longhorns the best team in Texas right now? The answer is probably yes, but I’d like to make a case for several other Texas programs and then let the fans debate to decide.
In the mix will be the aforementioned Longhorns, the Aggies of Texas A&M, the Leach-less Red Raiders of Texas Tech, The Horned Frogs of Texas Christian University and the Cougars of Houston.
UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS
Everyone knows the firepower that the Longhorns bring to the field each and every year. Mack Brown reloads his offense each year without a hitch. Replacing Vince Young with Colt McCoy and now following that with a kid that many think could surpass even those two guys, Garrett Gilbert , Brown seems to have a quarterback factory that just keeps popping these talented products out.
Brown also helps these young quarterbacks develop and succeed by surrounding them with top-tier wide receivers and serviceable running backs.
While the Big 12 is not known for its pass defense, Texas exploits them with a multitude of talent and a precision offense that is really second to none.
With the high-powered offense in Austin, it is very easy to overlook the defense, but in the words of ESPN’s Lee Corso, “not so fast my friend.”
Texas, led by maniac defensive coordinator and coach in waiting Will Muschamp , has speed and athleticism to rival anyone in the country.
The defense flies to the ball like mad-men, taking on the attitude and personality of Muschamp and his “go get ‘em” philosophy.
In conclusion, it is really easy to make a case for the Longhorns being the best team in Texas. The more difficult part is making a case for anyone else, but I’ll try.
At this point last year, I wouldn’t have even included the Aggies in this article. They were coming off of a bad season and didn’t look like there was going to be improvement.
However, Jerrod Johnson blossomed into not only a good quarterback, but a borderline great one.
The Aggies gave the Longhorns the fight of their lives which was remarkable considering that the teams were at completely different ends of the spectrum in preseason talks.
A&M’s offense looks to build on that momentum going into 2010, and all signs point to improvement as Johnson continues to grow and mature as the Aggies’ leader.
Coach Mike Sherman should have his defense at a respectable enough level this season to compete in the Big 12 and maybe even shock a few people along the way.
A&M will be super competitive this year, especially against their in-state rivals, which is why I put them in the conversation for the best team in Texas in 2010.
There is no doubt that Red Raider fans are anxious for the season to start, if for no other reason than just getting this offseason behind them.
In case you were under a rock for the past six months, the Texas Tech football program came to near implosion when former Head Coach Mike Leach was accused of abusing a player who was unable to practice due to a concussion.
Following several days of chaos in Lubbock and the eventual firing of Leach, the Red Raiders hired former Auburn Head Coach Tommy Tuberville to try to turn the program back in the right direction.
No one can argue the fact that Leach turned that team into a respectable program and for the most part did things the right way. To compete in one of the toughest conferences with inferior talent each year is something to brag about. The hiring of Tuberville will help Texas Tech bring in some of that missing talent needed to get to the top of the Big 12.
Although it will take a few years for Tuberville to get his style of players into the system, don’t be surprised if Texas Tech comes out throwing haymakers in 2010. With practically nothing to lose and everything to gain, the Red Raiders will be a dangerous team in the Big 12.
I know, I know, TCU just lost to Boise State so how could I mention them in a conversation about the best teams in Texas? Well the answer to that is simple—Gary Patterson.
Although TCU did not finish what they started last year, they are slowly but surely building themselves up to the level of the top 25 caliber teams each and every season.
It would have been nice for them to finish off Boise State and prove that they belong in the top 10, but they just didn’t do it when they needed to.
Quarterback Andy Dalton carries much of the blame for that loss. He didn’t play up to his capabilities at all, and they still were just a play or two away from winning that game.
Dalton comes back this season with a chip on his shoulder and the bitter taste of defeat to drive him to play his best and lead the team.
Gary Patterson is one of the most underrated coaches in America and he will undoubtedly have his team fired up and ready to play this season.
Its hard to make the argument that the Horned Frogs are the best team in the State of Texas simply because no one will play them!
Texas Tech recently backed out of an agreement to play the Frogs, A&M would rather play in-state powerhouse Sam Houston State as their non-conference game, and Texas, well they have nothing to gain and everything to lose by scheduling TCU.
UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON
The Cougars of Houston are a frustrating team on the brink of greatness.
On any given Saturday, the Cougars can beat any of the previously mentioned Texas teams. However, you never know what you’re going to get from these guys.
Kevin Sumlin’s squad goes from elite to terrible in the blink of an eye, but shows flashes of greatness that let you know that they are not to be taken lightly.
Following the high of back-to-back victories over Big 12 Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, the Cougars fell back to Earth when they gave up 58 points and lost to UTEP.
Then they showed another spark as they beat SEC Mississippi State, but then finished the season with two disappointing losses to East Carolina and Air Force.
Nonetheless, Sumlin is building a program down in Houston and is quickly establishing the University of Houston as Quarterback U.
In a state where quarterback talent is everywhere, the Cougars will continue to reload and shock the college football world.
Their only issue is consistency.
Now it's time for the fans to decide. I've made a case for each team, but the real fans of each program will have more arguments. So lets hear it fans! Is your team the best in Texas?