There’s an old U2 lyric from the song “God Part II” that seems to make so much sense, no matter the context.
“You glorify the past when the future dries up.”
For the past seven years, the future has seemed plenty dry for Longhorn football. False hope and a false guarantee from ESPN play-by-play commentator Joe Tessitore (“Texas is back, folks!”) have left the burnt orange faithful wondering where the light is at the end of this dark, dark tunnel.
And so Texas has glorified its illustrious past, and rightfully so. Just flip on the Longhorn Network. Oh, the 2006 Rose Bowl is on again?
Now following a period in which the program hit rock bottom and went 16–21 over the course of three seasons, new head coach Tom Herman has arrived with a full-speed-ahead message.
“I think losing has to be awful, and you can never get used to losing,” Herman said at Big 12 Media Days last month. “That is one of the biggest maybe downfalls of a lot of teams is you get used to losing. No, losing is awful. It's not just, ‘oh, well, we'll get them next week.’ No, this is like the-sky-is-falling-type stuff.”
That’ll wake you up.
But should Longhorn fans buy the “this time, things will be different” rhetoric? Should they have high expectations after countless agonizing moments over the last seven years?
As hard as it may be for even the most pessimistic fans to expect a dramatic turnaround under Herman, the reality is they should.
Not only is there plenty of talent and experience at Herman’s disposal — including a proven quarterback and a bevy of playmakers — there’s a markedly different attitude on the 40 Acres, founded upon the first-year head coach’s incessant attention to detail. From monitoring the color of his players’ urine with hydration charts, to making sure junior defensive back P.J. Locke III doesn’t leave his water bottle behind, to a no-trash-left policy in the player’s lounge, Herman has shown he means business no matter what.
Of course, these hardball tactics do not automatically translate to wins. It’s unlikely the color of your urine has much to do with your ability to convert on third down or, heck, beat Kansas. But after seven long years of irrelevancy and embarrassment, this may be exactly what Texas needed — a swift kick in the pants and a long look in the mirror. If nothing else, that’s what Herman has brought to Texas — a reality check.
And that’s why it’s reasonable to expect Texas to have a turnaround under Herman. Texas can’t go on like this forever. Sooner or later, the tide has to turn again. Maybe this time, the future isn’t so dry.
Who knows — maybe the Longhorn Network higher-ups will eventually give the 2006 Rose Bowl a bit of a break from programming, and there will be new glorious games, like a national championship, to re-air over and over again, courtesy of Herman.
Maybe this time, Texas will get fixed.