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BYU vs. Texas: The Game That Changed the Course of Texas Football

Taylor Gaspar@Taylor_GasparFeatured ColumnistSeptember 5, 2014

Aug 30, 2014; Austin, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns run on to the field before the game against the North Texas Mean Green at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

A storm rolled through Provo, Utah on Sept. 7, 2013, and not the one that caused a two-hour rain delay. This storm was much bigger.

What followed caused one of the biggest shake ups in recent Texas football history.

Dismantled is an accurate word to describe what BYU did to Texas on that Saturday evening. But the destruction was not only seen on the gridiron.

The Texas football program was demolished from top to bottom in 2013.

And it all began on that stormy night in Provo.

The Game 

Embarrassing, shocking and disappointing are three words the Texas Longhorns have used to describe what occurred last season against BYU.

No. 15 Texas was a 7.5-point favorite against unranked BYU, according to Oddsshark.com. But even the experts in Vegas couldn't predict what would play out on the field.

BYU quarterback Taysom Hill had a field day against the Longhorns defense, and finished the game with 259 rushing yards and three touchdowns. The defense gave up 550 rushing yards and 679 total yards of offense to the Cougars. 

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Texas vs. BYU (Sept. 7, 2013)
TeamRushing YardsRushing TDPassing YardsPassing TDTotal Yards
Texas13213132445
BYU55041290679
Texassports.com

"I'm still embarrassed about it," defensive back Quandre Diggs said of last season's loss. "You can probably tell in my demeanor that I'm embarrassed and don't really want to talk about it."

Bleacher Report NFL Analyst and former Texas quarterback Chris Simms summed up the performance in one word: "Wow."

"It was quite alarming to watch that game unfold," Simms said. "I have great love for Mack Brown and Texas, but that game was a big red flag showing there were a lot of issues down there in Austin. I was worried before the game, but that performance brought me to a whole new level. Any time you see a team physically and schematically dominated like that, there's more than just one issue at hand. It certainly showed me there were issues on the talent level of the players, and a lot of concerns with the coaching."

Brown eliminated one issue when he fired defensive coordinator Manny Diaz following the loss, but it was not enough. The damage was done, and the structure holding up the football program started to crumble.

The Aftermath

The Texas-BYU game was a major factor in Brown's demise, but the issues the public saw on the field were not a fluke. Somewhere along the line, Texas lost its ability of finding talented football players and did not develop the talent once it arrived in Austin.

"The biggest difference in Texas football now is the type of people on the field," Simms said about the difference in Texas football from when he was on campus to present day.

"I came to Texas after the Ricky Williams era. We didn't have great depth on our roster, but we had stars in the starting 22. And that continued after I left with Vince Young, Brian Orakpo and Earl Thomas. That's not just NFL talent, it's top-tier Pro Bowl, All-Pro talent. Certainly none of that has happened recently at Texas. Quarterback play falling off after Colt McCoy was huge as well. Those were the biggest changes in Texas football between 2010 and 2013 and before that."

PROVO, UT - SEPTEMBER 7: Quarterback Taysom Hill #4  of BYU Cougars runs through tackles by Quandre Diggs #6 and Steve Edmond #33 of the Texas Longhorns during the second half of an NCAA football game September 7, 2013 at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo,
George Frey/Getty Images

Texas is often regarded as one of the top college football schools in the country, so there should never be an issue in finding talented athletes. Unfortunately for Longhorn fans, it was a major problem toward the end of the Brown era.

"I was concerned for the last few years. I would watch games and think what's going on here? We don't have any players, we had no speed and we didn't have the stud defensive and offensive linemen anymore," Simms said. "Another thing that concerned me is: look at Marquise Goodwin. He has unbelievable speed and explosion, and made a name for himself his first year in the NFL, but we couldn't find a way to get him the ball in college."

Following the embarrassing loss to BYU, the Longhorns went on a six-game winning streak in conference play, and had the chance of claiming the Big 12 title.

Simms credited the Longhorns for being able to bounce back after the 1-2 start of the season. But the standard of winning changed in recent years, and that was unacceptable to Simms and other former Longhorns.

"Our acceptance level lowered. We were happy to beat the Iowa States of the world recently," Simms said. "When I was at Texas, we were disappointed if we didn't beat them by 30 points. I feel like expectations had fallen off, and that bothered me."

Texas lost three of its final four games of 2013, and saying goodbye to the coach who brought pride and national recognition back to Texas football.

Strong Restructuring Made in Austin

AUSTIN, TX - JANUARY 6: The University of Texas Longhorns new head football coach Charlie Strong from Louisvillespeaks after being introduced during a press conference January 6, 2014 at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by
Erich Schlegel/Getty Images

The powers that be put its faith in former Louisville head coach Charlie Strong to rebuild the Longhorns into the college football powerhouse it was once recognized as. The head coach has a long, rocky road ahead of him, and the rebuild will not be done in his first season.

But Simms, who was recruited by Strong when he was at Florida under Steve Spurrier, believes Strong is the perfect guy to lead his alma mater.

"The program is in a bit of a rebuilding process right now, but I think it's in really good hands in Charlie Strong. For whatever reason, the program has veered off course, but I do think Charlie is the right guy to get everything back on track.

"He's a true football guy, an X's and O's football coach. He has done a tremendous job of hiring good coaches and coordinators around him. And he has shown an unbelievable ability not only to do things the right way, but also in getting really good players and doing it the right way.

"If you can recruit at Louisville, then he's certainly going to be able to recruit at Texas. He's going to get everybody focused on the true details of football and will be able to get the best players back in there once again."

Strong said he doesn't expect Texas to be a national title contender in his first season, which did not sit well with some fans. But it's the truth.

CHRIS CARLSON/Associated Press

Longhorn fans were spoiled by the nine or more win teams Brown put on the field for 12-straight seasons. Texas is nowhere near that standard present day.

But it has a chance of returning to it under Strong. It will take time, so Texas fans will need to use something they doesn't always want to use: Patience.

"I think you will see improvements in the players right away. Now does that mean they're going to go 11-2? No, I don't think so. I hope so, but I don't know if that's totally realistic," Simms said. "You have to give him a few years to let his recruiting kick-in, and that's a major point."

Coaches don't get fired over having a great program; they get fired over putting the program in a bad situation.

And the Texas football program was worse off than ever before when Strong was hired.

"When Mack took over, the talent at Texas was better than than it is," Simms said. "My freshman year had Casey Hampton at defensive tackle, Shaun Rogers at defensive tackle, Quentin Jammer, Leonard Davis and Mike Williams on the offensive line. We had a lot of big-time, future NFL players on our roster when I got there. I'm not so sure Charlie Strong has that right now."

Football games are often won or lost in the trenches. Texas has not had an offensive lineman drafted since 2008, and for the first time since 1937, the Longhorns did not have a single player drafted in 2014. And as seen in last season's BYU game, the Longhorns defensive line or run defense was not going to win any games for the team.

But Strong is one of the best defensive minded coaches in college football. His team is coming off of a week where it held its opponents to 94 total yards of offense. Now the Longhorns have a chance to rewrite the story around the Texas defense Saturday. 

The Rocky Road Starts Saturday

The first difficult opponent on the Longhorns schedule just so happens to be the same team that changed the future of the football program.

It's safe to say Texas, under no circumstances, should schedule games against BYU moving forward, because history has shown bad things happen when the Longhorns face the Cougars.

Texas barely edged BYU in 2011, which marked the end of former five-star quarterback Garrett Gilbert's career in Austin. The abomination on defense last season cost the jobs of Brown and his staff, and was also the beginning of the end of quarterback David Ash's season after he suffered a concussion.

Strong will face the Cougars with first-time starting quarterback Tyrone Swoopes under center, first-time starting center Jake Raulerson and an offensive line that has five-career starts protecting the rookie QB. 

Last year's game was the beginning of the end of the previous regime. This year's game gives Texas a chance to prove it has made a step in the right direction.

"We have another game," Diggs said. "We play BYU Saturday and I guarantee we will be ready to go."

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

Taylor Gaspar is Bleacher Report's featured columnist covering the Texas Longhorns. Follow Taylor on Twitter: @Taylor_Gaspar. 

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