Wake up call in Austin

It’s tempting to read this what-went-wrong article about Texas’ 2010 season and try to draw all sorts of parallels to the dysfunctional year we witnessed in Athens.  Some of that, like the sense of creeping entitlement and the accompanying lack of dedication to offseason conditioning, certainly hits home, but something else cited there reminded me of another high-flying program that fell off the table:

… UT’s recruiters had overestimated the talent of incoming players, particularly on offense. Coaches had resorted more to watching tapes rather than scouring the 1,400 high schools in Texas for the type of players that brought the Longhorns nine straight 10-win seasons.

Shades of Larry Coker.

Just as with Miami, the results were predictable.

… More than one close observer pins the Longhorns’ decline to poor evaluation in recruiting and the pattern that Texas has fallen into of extending scholarship offers before players’ senior seasons, thus severely limiting the amount of data to evaluate.

“The biggest contributor, in my opinion, is they lost their talent advantage,” said one source with deep connections to Longhorns coaches. “There was no wide receiver worth a (expletive). They didn’t have an offensive line that was prepared because of poor development or evaluation.

“Name me a (Longhorns) running back that will play in the NFL. Look at every single running back Texas has. How many did Texas pass over who are going to be NFL running backs? Ten to 15? Would you rather have Kendall Hunter or Tré Newton? Would you rather have Cyrus Gray or Fozzy Whittaker? Christine Michael the next year? You just go down the list.”

So much for winning the recruiting rankings every season.

The upshot is that the Longhorns are changing their recruiting strategy.

A humbling 5-7 season has led to a different approach for Texas.

In recent years, the Longhorns have used their junior day weekends in February to secure most of their future recruiting class. This past weekend, however, only four players committed

There are few things sadder than watching someone squander a great gift.  Texas sits in a recruiting pocket that’s the richest in the country, when you count both quality and quantity.  Pissing away an advantage like that is a good way to wind up unemployed, regardless of how well Brown does in other aspects of his job.  The good thing is that with UT’s resources, it’s fixable.  The bad thing, at least in the short run, is that it takes time to overcome two or three mediocre years of recruiting results, even at a place like Texas.

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22 Comments

Filed under Big 12 Football, Recruiting

22 responses to “Wake up call in Austin

  1. The Original Cynical in Athens

    I’m not so sure that our coaches did not become victims of the same phenomenon, only difference being that they would see a kid at a 2 day camp, no pads on, running fast 40’s and think that made the kid an SEC football player.

    Perhaps if the coaches had worked a little harder, maybe interviewed the kids before hand, they end up with DJ Adams and/or Warren Norman instead of Ealey.

    A lot of outsiders thought that the coaches were crazy for offering Thomas Brown at RB and making him a priority over Darius Walker, but the coaches actually knew the kids, knew what kind of guy they were getting in Brown and were convinced that it was the right move.

    I don’t think that they have done things with as much conviction the last couple of years, maybe just trusting the “rankings” a little bit too much, or simply settling for filling quotas at positions instead of working harder to get the “difference-maker” that may make a later decision. That trend appears to have reversed this year.

    • I think you’re attributing too much there.

      One big problem is that certain members of the staff ***cough***Jancek***cough*** were terrible talent evaluators. All the interviews in the world would never change that.

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        I thought that was what Cynical just said without naming names. And***cough***Jancek***cough***wasn’t the only one.

        • This is what I was responding to, Mayor:

          Perhaps if the coaches had worked a little harder, maybe interviewed the kids before hand, they end up with DJ Adams and/or Warren Norman instead of Ealey.

          I don’t think the problem was one of effort.

    • Biggus Rickus

      Maybe I’m missing the point, but Darius Walker had a more productive career than Thomas Brown.

      • The Original Cynical in Athens

        They were about tit for tat. TB had better YPC and added a KR dimension. Walker was more of a threat in passing game, no big-play ability.

    • gernblanski

      You must be the original cynic in Athens because the nonsense you are spewing about the coaches working harder to find recruits is riduculous. Let me throw some facts into the mix regarding Ealey who the coaches convinced to sign with the Dawgs despite their laziness. He was the 15th highest rated back in the country according to Rivals and the highest in the state. Ealey also has the best 2010 stats of anyone ranked in the Top 15. His 811 yards is 111 more than Trent Richardson. He also scored 11 times and no else scored more than 7.

      The other 14 RB’s on the list went to Tennessee (2), AL, LSU, TX A&M, West Va, ND, Miami, Ohio St., Texas, Okla St. (2), Arkansas, and MD.

      If our lazy coaches were duped by Mr. Ealey, then what to make of all the other coaching staffs at these fine institutions.

      You can make a case of 1 other player on the list being better than Ealey – Trent Richardson. Richardson has had to share time with Ingram. What is everyone else’s excuse?

      • The Original Cynical in Athens

        Ealey is a POS who is bad in the lockerroom and lost at least 2 games for UGA this year. All the stats in the world don’t matter.

        • gernblanski

          So the coaches should not have signed any RB recruits in 2009? You cannot chalk up the Ealey issues to laziness on the recruiting front. Because in addition to us “missing” on Ealey – all of the other schools (save Bama) have missed on the 14 guys ranked ahead of him. We really would have been a world of hurt …

          The fact is they were not lazy. The general consensus amongst football coaches and recruiting pundits was that he was the top back in the state that year. The fanbase and media expects UGA to sign or be in the mix for the top back in the state every year. I would bet that the coaching staff worked hard to get him to sign.

          Given the fact that 13 or 14 of the RB’s in the top 15 have washed out their original schools or not made a significant impact, it is one of times when everyone who follows football for a living have been wrong. 2009 was just not a good year for RB’s.

          Despite your assessment of Ealey, we probably came out of this better than most of those other teams.

          • W Cobb Dawg

            I don’t believe lack of good players was the Dawgs problem last year. The problem was obviously coaching- both on the field and in game preparation. Ealey may be a jerk, he may be stupid, he may be unlucky, and he may be wasting his opportunities, but you are correct saying that he does have talent.

  2. Pumpdawg

    Let’s hope Muschamp takes that recruiting philosophy to Gainesville with him.

  3. 69Dawg

    I think UGA just adopted the race method of recruiting. OK for non-lawyers race does not mean racial it means we offered x number of schollys for x number of positions and the first junior to commit (this is the race part) gets the scholly whether he is the best at the position or not. It’s had been two years since we had any signing day excitement due to all the early commits. We got screwed by D’Rick and that cost us. UGA just like UT seems to have gone back to the old way of doing it.

    • Bulldog Joe

      I agree. Players who are high school juniors are still early in their development cycle, Gaining their commitment prior to their senior season is a risk that most people underestimate.

      Certainly the risk of injury is there and we have been burned by it, but the work ethic and the learning cycle also take a hit if the player knows he already has a spot.

      It is human nature.

      Georgia’s class this year was much heavier on the late commits, giving the coaching staff greater time to do evaluations. Hopefully, this is a lesson-learned.

      We went through the late 2000’s with most of our class committed long before the players completed their senior high school season.

      This was not a good thing.

  4. There are a couple of big differences to note:

    Mack Brown just up and decided that Texas would be a power running team in 2010. Like most cultural revolutions, it was ugly. They didn’t have the personnel or the experience running the scheme.

    Similar to Georgia 2009, Texas was hungover from the loss of several alpha dogs — McCoy, Shipley, Kindle, etc. When you have a leadership void, all the offseason stuff suffers. We had that problem in 2010 as well, obviously, but we were a year further removed from Stafford/Moreno. Also, we had some clear leaders players could look to in ’09-’10, i.e., Curran, Houston, AJ, etc. Sounds like no one respected Gilbert.

    I don’t think our recruiting has been nearly as complacent as Texas’. It’s one thing for a program with Georgia’s or Texas’ resources and recruiting pipeline to bat .500 in the SEC. It’s another thing to do it in the Big XII and miss a bowl game entirely. I’m really shocked that Muschamp had anything to say about offensive talent evaluation, given that UCLA, Baylor, Iowa State and Kansas State did whatever they wanted against his defense, averaging over 30 points apiece.

    One thing the state of Texas produces a ton of is quality quarterbacks. They’ve been doing 7-on-7 leagues forever, so it’s no surprise that guys like Drew Brees (who is from Austin), Vince Young, and Greg McElroy come from here. What is a surprise is how often the Longhorns whiff on them.