2011 College Football AP Top 25: Breaking Down Why Texas Is Unranked
By now, we've all seen two things: (1) Texas finished up the 2010 season with a 5-7 mark, the Longhorns' first losing season during the Mack Brown Era. (2) Texas is unranked in the Associated Press Preseason Top 25.
Meanwhile, ESPN's and USA Today's polls have the Horns ranked No. 24 despite glaring issues in many areas.
One could get the feeling that the media is giving Texas a little benefit of the doubt given the mighty changes going on in Austin, but the leash has to be short.
Let's breakdown why Texas will begin the season outside of the top 25.
There should be no denying that the Longhorns were atrocious last season. Their 5-7 record was an indication of a multitude of internal problems to the program that led to a complete overhaul of the coaching staff.
Six new assistants, including a strength and conditioning coach, make up a fresh new approach to football at Texas. Mack Brown is determined to right the ship of a program that has become a nationally recognized brand.
But a sub-.500 season and a bevy of new coaches make for huge doses of skepticism. We didn't know who the Longhorns were last season, and we still don't know who the Longhorns will be this season.
The thing about 5-7 and the face-lift on Texas' coaching staff is that it creates an incredible amount of uncertainty.
The Longhorns will usher in new offensive and defensive coordinators with Bryan Harsin and Manny Diaz, who will both implement systems that require time and experience to master.
Couple that with a number of underclassmen who will shoulder a significant load on offense, and even more question marks will arise when the youth on the team struggles.
Texas can practice and scrimmage as much as the rest of the programs in the country, but until the Longhorns actually take the field for live action, there will be an amount of uncertainty in the air.
When Garrett Gilbert trotted onto the field as a true freshman in the 2009 BCS National Championship Game against Alabama, he struggled early, but rebounded strongly and almost led the Longhorns to a glorious comeback. Texas felt positive about its future at quarterback.
Not so fast, my friend.
Gilbert's 2010 was a mess. So much so that even now his status as the starting quarterback prior to the 2011 season has been in reasonable jeopardy.
College football fans and the media know that Gilbert has shown few signs of becoming a solid option in the past, although he has demonstrated promise during the summer.
As Texas' quarterback play improves, as will its standing in the rankings. For now, the Horns' quarterback position is a huge question mark.
Texas is stacked with talented but untested youth, which should always raise a red flag on Saturdays.
With the number of young guys that will contribute for the Longhorns this season, nobody—not even the coaching staff—can be completely sure of the results.
When was the last time a young team garnered enough praise in the media to make top 25 noise?
There are simply too many questions about this Texas team and too much youth at a number of positions to earn that sort of spotlight.
Whether Texas' current ranking is a disguise or not, it is a blessing not to have that added pressure of performing. Instead, it may provide the impetus needed to regain national respect.
Texas should be getting respect from no one. With a 2010 season that left the Longhorns in the cellar of the Big 12, why would they earn any?
Plain and simple, the Longhorns just weren't good last year, and there are no lasting images of good football in the minds of the media.
Although preseason rankings mean little in the grand scheme of college football, there are no gimmes in the sport. Teams are ranked based on what they've done, and Texas has nothing to show for now.