The Longhorns are running out of time, and they know it.
Texas’ latest loss to No. 8 TCU knocked the Longhorns’ record to 4–5, still two wins away from gaining bowl eligibility. Success is hard to measure in college football. It varies from program to program, but with three contests remaining on the schedule, the Longhorns’ goal is clear: reach a bowl game.
Herman was asked if qualifying for a bowl game will define this season as a success or if their 4–5 record is already enough to deem the year a huge disappointment. He took a step back and flashed a grin before answering.
“Those are my only two options, success or huge disappointment?” Herman said. “I think anything better than previous years has to be considered somewhat of a success. It’s called improvement.”
Herman has been hesitant to use the term “rebuilding year,” where a program regains its footing, pivots and goes in a different direction. With it, however, often comes a mediocre record and sometimes failure to qualify for postseason play to reach a bowl game.
“You don’t ever want to sacrifice winning now for winning in the future,” Herman said. “The seniors deserve a staff and a head coach and a team that is going to put every ounce of effort into winning immediately.”
Texas’ efforts fell short in Fort Worth on Saturday, and with it came questions geared toward the coaching staff, specifically offensive coordinator Tim Beck. This comes after the Longhorns only managed to score seven points against TCU and 10 points against Oklahoma State. However, when asked if he planned on sticking with the current coaching staff moving forward, Herman didn’t flinch.
“Oh my gosh yes, 100 percent,” Herman said. “I hired these guys knowing exactly what I was gonna get. We’ve all gotta get better, especially on that side of the ball, but I have full confidence that we will.”
If Herman retains all nine assistants, he would, for the time being, end the revolving door of coaches that have come through the 40 Acres. Players like fifth-year senior linebacker Naashon Hughes have now seen 34 different assistant coaches in their time at Texas.
“I think continuity and consistency with your staff is really, really important in college football,” Herman said. “It is one of the most underrated reasons for success in my opinion, and that is why as a head coach now I see why all the other head coaches I worked for were always so protective of their assistant coaches, they understood the value of continuity.”
But that is all later down the road. For now, Texas enters the final stretch of the season in a battle for six wins and bowl eligibility. And the Longhorns are aware of that.
“Our guys really believe in what we’re doing and they understand the urgency here going into the last quarter of the season and that time is ticking on guaranteed opportunities to play this game this season,” Herman said. “The urgency is definitely there and definitely palpable.”