Ever since Alabama beat Texas to win the 2009 national title, the Longhorns haven’t been the same. That much is obvious. But I hadn’t realized just how much UT has underachieved until I did a bit of research on their recruiting rankings the past decade. In fact, no other school has underachieved as much, if we’re assuming recruiting rankings are important (they are, FYI, to an extent).
Tom Herman, in his second season in Austin has a 9-4 record heading into the Sugar Bowl against Georgia. If the Horns don’t hook UGA, it will be the ninth straight season they have finished with less than 10 wins, and only the second time finishing in the Top 25.
Texas is 62-52 in the past nine years (.544) and hasn’t won a Big-12 title since 2009, making a bowl game in just six of those seasons. At, say, Iowa State, that’s a successful nine-year stretch. But at Texas, the flagship university in the second largest state, that performance is as atrocious as the school’s burnt orange color.
Many fans outside Austin seem to think UT’s recruiting has slipped, which has led to mediocrity. It hasn’t. In fact, since 2008, the Horns’ recruiting class has posted an annual average of ninth in the country, per 247 Sports. But the program has produced zero top 10 or 10-win seasons since 2009.
Texas Recruiting Class Rankings Since 2008 (per 247 Sports)
2008 (8th), 2009 (8th), 2010 (2nd), 2011 (3rd), 2012 (2nd), 2013 (17th), 2014 (17th), 2015 (10th), 2016 (7th), 2017 (25th), 2018 (3rd)
Imagine What Mike Gundy Could do with Texas’ Recruits…
Compare that to Oklahoma State, another Big-12 school, which has an average recruiting ranking of 33.11 since 2008. But their on-field performance has far and away surpassed that of Texas since 2010.
The Cowboys are 84-32 over that period (.724), including a 2011 Big-12 title. So, despite having a serious recruiting disadvantage against conference foe Texas, Mike Gundy is out-performing the Horns…by a lot.
We’ll see what Herman can do in Austin. He’s 16-10 in two years and has the Longhorns in a NY6 bowl game. Texas made the Big-12 title game this year and beat Oklahoma earlier in the season. Overall, he’s been just okay as head coach so far. It’s still a bit too early to project how his tenure at UT will play out.
But this whole notion that Longhorn fans should be patient because he has to clean up Charlie Strong’s mess simply isn’t completely true. Texas has talent. Maybe not 2009 or 2005 Texas talent, but they have enough top recruits on the current roster to be performing at a higher level.