The permanent smudge on the Lone Star State’s collective record for this college football season became a reality Tuesday when none of Texas’ schools cracked the Associated Press’ postseason poll.
That’s not a misprint. For the first time in 49 years, all 12 of the FBS programs from the state that produces more college football talent than any place in America were omitted from the final Top 25 rankings.
Even worse: There’s no way to mount a case that any of our schools were cheated at the ballot box. Houston (9-4), a 34-10 loser to San Diego State in the Las Vegas Bowl, emerged as the lone team from the Lone Star State to receive any votes from the AP panel in a season that concluded with Texas’ major college teams combining for a 65-85 record and a 1-5 mark in bowl games.
Had the poll extended far enough, Houston would have tied for No. 37 among the 42 teams that received votes. At least the Cougars turned a few voters’ heads, which was not the case for Power 5 programs at Texas (5-7), Texas A&M (8-5), Texas Tech (5-7), TCU (6-7) or Baylor (7-6).
Among the state’s 12 FBS teams, nine posted losing records. The low-water mark belonged to Texas State (2-10).
Again, that’s not a misprint. Until Tuesday, Texas teams had not been shut out of the final poll since the 1967 season, when the rankings included only a top 10. Since the advent of the AP poll in 1936, Tuesday marked the first time that no Texas teams finished among the top 25 vote-getters in the final poll of the season.
This happened in a football-loving state filled with elite high school prospects that is home to more major college programs (12) than any state in the U.S. In other words: the near-impossible just became reality.
I think some of the better players have left the state in the last three to four years. We’ve got to do a better job keeping guys at home. We’ve got great skill here but not as many big bodies as what we used to have. TCU football coach Gary Patterson
We’ll address reasons and potential corrective measures momentarily. But first, one last sobering fact: more schools from basketball-crazed Kentucky (No. 24 Louisville, Western Kentucky) received votes in Tuesday’s postseason poll than schools from Texas.
One of the myriad reasons offered as an explanation for Tuesday’s predicament is the proliferation of spread offenses among Texas high schools. Theoretically, this leads to more 7-on-7 focus during the off-season and, subsequently, to smaller bodies and less-physical tacklers heading to college.
49 Years since the last time all of Texas’ college football teams were shut out of the AP’s final poll, which happened Tuesday. But the final poll in 1967 included only a top 10. Texas’ teams were omitted from the Top 25 this season.
Among the many flaws in that logic: Clemson, the freshly crowned national champion, runs a spread offense. Alabama, the national runner-up, featured 10 Texans on this year’s roster, including quarterback Jalen Hurts (Channelview), the son of a Texas high school coach. We are only two seasons removed from having two Texas teams that run spread offenses (TCU, Baylor) finish among the CFP’s top six contenders for the 2014 playoff bracket.
Don’t blame a drop-off in the talent pipeline. No college coach, publicly or privately, will besmirch the quality of Texas’ blue-chip prospects. Nor should they. But other factors are in play.
During a recent interview, TCU football coach Gary Patterson identified two issues that command attention from the state’s college coaches.