Texas Longhorns Football: 8 Reasons Why This Is a Critical Year for Mack Brown
The time has almost come for Texas' season of redemption.
After all the offseason changes the program has gone through—new coordinators, new wide receivers coach, new offensive line coach, new defensive tackles coach, new strength and conditioning coach, coaching philosophies, the Longhorn Network—it is time to see the results.
Mack Brown has admittedly picked up a new edge in coaching, and he has vowed to correct the ship after the Longhorns' 5-7 season.
The expectations are high, as is the standard for Texas football, but it is a critical year for Texas and Brown.
Here are eight reasons why.
Breaking in the New Staff
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First and foremost, Mack Brown implemented groundbreaking changes to his coaching staff that will revolutionize Texas football.
Bryan Harsin (Co-OC), Manny Diaz (DC), Stacy Searels (OL), Bo Davis (DT), Darrell Wyatt (WR) and Bennie Wylie (S&C) all make up a new Longhorns coaching staff that will be looking to rebound from Texas' 5-7 record last season.
Brown should never be walking on thin ice given his legendary status at the university, but the pressure to perform and reclaim Texas' glamour in college football is definitely present. The hires he made in his coaching staff are supposed to bring about new philosophies to the program, and they have to come through.
Finding His No. 1 Quarterback
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Texas fans thought Garrett Gilbert would be a legitimate option in 2010 after a promising performance in the 2009 BCS National Championship Game as Colt McCoy's substitute.
We all know the result of the subsequent season as Gilbert was a living question mark throughout the Longhorns' 5-7 campaign.
Fast forward a year later in the summer of 2011, and Gilbert still has lingering question marks going into the season. Brown has been put in a position where he needs to decide the quarterback of the future.
Gilbert will be a junior. Case McCoy is his backup as a true sophomore. David Ash is a true freshman who pushed his peers for a spot in the two deep.
Quite frankly, Texas cannot be in a position to truly regain its prowess without an indisputable signal caller.
Whether its Gilbert, McCoy or Ash, someone will have to take the offense by the horns, pun intended, and lead this program back to glory.
The Right Foot
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Rebuilding the Texas program is not supposed to take multiple seasons, and that shouldn't be the expectation.
Instead, the obvious desire is for the Longhorns to jump back into the thick of the national title scene and make runs in the BCS.
But to kickoff this new brand of Texas football, Brown and his program must start on the right foot, which means winning games, avoiding injuries and making positive adjustments.
A below average season, perhaps even an average season, simply won't meet the standard. Getting it right this season is critical for the next few.
Keeping the Status Quo with Oklahoma
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Texas' closet contemporary equivalent to its 2010 5-7 mark was Oklahoma's 8-5 campaign in 2009, though the Sooners dropped three games that were decided by a combined five points.
Whatever similarities or differences between both programs' down years, the Sooners rebounded with a strong comeback in the subsequent season, going 12-2 with a Fiesta Bowl victory over Big East Champions UConn.
Now the Sooners are preseason contenders for a BCS National Championship bid, not missing a beat with their national prowess.
Oklahoma rebounded. Texas must respond with a similar answer to its poor 2010 campaign and make some noise in 2011.
Debut of the Longhorn Network
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The Longhorn Network, a television contract between ESPN and the University of Texas, debuted on Friday and will provide coverage of Texas' 20 varsity sports and much more support broadcasting.
But however one wants to look at it, football will continue to be the bread winner for Longhorns athletics and the Longhorn Network.
With all of the spotlight on the Longhorns football program this season, especially coming after a dreadful season in 2010, there is an added pressure to perform and retain Texas' brand as an elite college football entity.
The network should be around long after Brown has moved on from his position, but he and his program will want to make a powerful impression this year.
First Season of a New Era
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It is a new era for Mack Brown and Texas football, and this first season will be a testament to what kind of changes have come to the Forty Acres.
Will Longhorns fans be required to wait another season? They certainly won't want to.
Getting back on track is the reason behind all of these monumental changes, and people will want results immediately.
Mere bowl eligibility isn't good enough, as the eyes of an entire program are transfixed on this team and Brown's efforts.
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With the recent talk this summer of Texas A&M darting from the Big 12 to join the SEC, what better way to remind college football of Texas' command of the state than to reel off a huge rebound year.
No way would the Longhorns let the Aggies get the last laugh and leave the conference on their own accord and finish with a worse record for the second straight season.
Over the past decade, Texas A&M has been ferociously mediocre, but one wouldn't know it by A&M's attempt to step out from under Texas' shadow.
If the Big 12 is truly saying goodbye to the Aggies after this season, Texas would be keen for a sending off that would put the Longhorns on top of their College Station rivals.
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Brown is a winning coach, plain and simple.
Over the course of his tenure as a head coach at Appalachian State, Tulane, North Carolina and Texas, Brown has amassed a 219-108-1 record. His last losing season as a head coach was in 1989 when he was 1-10 with the Tar Heels for the second consecutive year.
Dating back to his days in Chapel Hill, Brown has put together 20 consecutive winning seasons, including a stretch at Texas where his program won at least 10 games for nine seasons in a row. A 5-7 record will look ugly for any coach, but this is the first time one of his programs has been unranked in the preseason polls since 1995.
He hasn't had back-to-back losing seasons since 1988-1989. He should have it all figured out.
He has built a successful reputation and a winning tradition in Austin. His effort to maintain those perceptions and expectations has been and will be heavily monitored.