Tom Herman said he doesn’t have an answer for why Texas fell short to Iowa State for the second-consecutive year last Friday, or why the Longhorns haven’t lived up to their annual expectation to compete in the Big 12 Championship game.
During a teleconference Monday, the fourth-year Texas head coach said any reason he gives would come off as an excuse. He isn’t worried about national rankings or his team staying focused against Kansas State despite being out of the Big 12 Championship race.
“We're still fighting for some really good bowl games, we're fighting for a really, really good record, and we're fighting to give the seniors an opportunity to go out with four-straight winning seasons, and hopefully four-straight bowl game wins as well,” Herman said. “(We) wiped the tears from our eyes, picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off and got back to work yesterday.”
Herman said he isn’t thinking about his job security, either, or if he can find a suitable replacement for junior left tackle Sam Cosmi, who announced Sunday that he would forgo Texas’ final two games to prepare for the NFL Draft. Who suits up Saturday will depend on the health of senior center Derek Kerstetter, who is listed as “questionable” with a high ankle sprain for this week’s matchup against the Wildcats.
Even with two games left, Texas doesn’t have much to play for the remainder of the season. Saturday’s 23-20 loss to the Cyclones guaranteed Iowa State its first-ever Big 12 Championship game appearance and condemned the Longhorns to finish with fewer than 10 wins for the 10th time in 11 years. The only remaining hope Texas has to still qualify for the conference championship game is if Oklahoma loses its final two games against two-win Baylor and unranked West Virginia.
Herman said Texas didn’t reach the program’s standard of competing for a conference championship this season, although the team was a matter of inches on a missed field goal from potentially saving its season on Friday.
“The standard should be what I always have expressed it to be, which is to be in the conversation and to be competing for conference championships in the months of November and December,” Herman said. “We were there this year, we were there four years ago, and this year we came up three points short.”
Herman said after Friday’s loss he believes the program is in better shape now than when he took over four years ago, although he said he doesn’t necessarily “know the measurement of better.” He’ll leave it “for everybody else to decide how much better” the program is now than it was when he took over in 2017.
Herman said his only worry was preparing his team for their trip to Manhattan, Kansas.
“I'm extremely focused on beating Kansas State, not worried about winning my way out of anything, not worried about dyes or being cast or anything like that,” Herman said. “We are full steam ahead in preparation mode to try to win a conference game and give these seniors a fourth-straight winning season.”