Eric Loop said he was pumped when Texas hired Tom Herman as its new head football coach in 2016.
“This offensive guru from Houston was coming in,” finance senior Loop said. “He was going to infuse the team with his awesome leadership style. I was really excited for what the future might hold.”
Loop is not as high on Herman these days. He said the last two years have been a roller coaster for Longhorns fans. Unranked TCU defeated Texas Saturday in yet another game fans feel the Longhorns should have won.
Texas lost to Maryland in 2017 and 2018. Kansas, the Big 12’s perennial loser, nearly left Austin last year with a win, and the Longhorns barely escaped Texas Tech in Lubbock a little over a week ago.
Longtime Texas fan Justin Lilly said it seems like the Longhorns’ coaching staff doesn’t “go for it.”
“They have a very conservative game plan,” Lilly said. “It feels like they’re playing not to lose instead of playing to win.”
When Lilly watched Alabama’s game against Texas A&M Saturday night after Texas’ loss, he said he noticed the Crimson Tide didn’t take its foot off the gas — even with a 21-point lead.
“Alabama was already preparing to play a team in the National Championship,” Lilly said. “Texas feels like they’re playing a game against the team they played last week instead of the team they’re playing on the field.”
Despite these critiques, Herman’s Longhorns have won bowl games against ranked opponents in Georgia and Utah. They also beat rival Oklahoma in 2018 en-route to a Big 12 Championship appearance, and Texas played LSU, the reigning National Champions, closer than any opponent last season.
Lilly said Herman game plans well against elite opponents, and he’s as good as any coach in the country when he has time to prepare. Herman is also a great recruiter, but his reliance on his roster’s talent might work to the team’s detriment, Loop said.
“When they just go out on the field and expect to beat TCU, sometimes that can be just a really toxic environment,” Loop said.
UT alumna Meredith Lavallais attended the University during the Colt McCoy era, so she became accustomed to seeing Texas consistently win.
“I think we just got really comfortable with winning, and so that’s made our expectations really high,” Lavallais said. “My expectations have changed now that it’s been 10 years.”
Herman said in a Monday teleconference that he knows more about the health of the U.S. President Donald Trump, who was recently diagnosed with COVID-19, and celebrity gossip than the fans’ reaction after Texas’ loss. He said it isn’t productive to subject himself to outside noise, an idea he carried into the TCU game after Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney gave him some advice.
“‘It’s not the water outside the boat that sinks ships. It’s the water that you allow inside the boat that does,’” Herman said. “Our guys, they know what they signed up for. So do I. When you come to a place like Texas, there’s going to be very high expectations and a lot of people who think they know how to do your job and play your position.”
Herman’s replacement if Texas doesn’t meet expectations isn’t clear, but Lavallais joked about one potential candidate.
“I don’t want to endure another three or four years trying to rebuild with a new coach, and possibly losing recruits that we have, but seeing how well Mack Brown's doing at North Carolina, that thought has definitely crossed my mind,” Lavallais said.