Mac Engel

Tom Herman’s task at Texas is simple: Be Oklahoma. Anything else is underachieving

After his Horns secured a spot in the Big 12 title game on Friday, Tom Herman said his Texas team was “overachieving right now.

After some debate, Tommy Boy is dug in on the subject.

“The conference has a ton of talent and we have some talent, too. Don’t get me wrong,” Herman said Monday. “We are probably playing above our talent level.”

But I thought Charlie Strong’s recruiting classes were full of the state and nation’s best, consistently Top 10 overall, blah blah blah?

With all due respect to Herman and the job both he and his team did in 2018, Texas did not overachieve this season. Not even at 9-3, with a win over Oklahoma, a berth in the Big 12 title game, and a No. 9 national ranking.

College football is a caste system, and Texas has so many built-in advantages this type of season should be the norm. That’s life at Bama. At ‘SC. At The Ohio State. At Texas. At Oklahoma.

Texas should be Oklahoma, and until then UT is underachieving.

There is no good reason why Oklahoma is to the Big 12 what the New England Patriots are to the AFC East. It’s embarrassing to every Texan, and every Texas college program.

All others have tried, the only one to do this so far is Texas.

The second-year coach at Texas could not have started the 2018 season any worse than with that awful loss to Maryland, but to the man’s credit, he did what he was hired to do. Texas is in the Big 12 title game, and a nationally relevant program for the right reasons.

On Monday during the Big 12 conference call, I asked him, after myself and others had fun knocking him around, if he felt any personal vindication given the team’s success. He certainly has earned the right to extend a certain finger at myself, and others.

“It means a lot for me for you to be asking that question, so thank you,” he said.

Pretty sure that’s tongue in cheek, but gotta like a man for having some earned fun at my expense.

“I’m not into vindication or pettiness. I might be if I cared what anyone outside of that locker room or my house thought of me,” Herman said.

Never heard of a coach who was unaware of, or didn’t care, what was said and/or written about them. As a human being, it is hard not to wonder what others are saying about you behind your back.

I’m never ceased to be amazed by my good brothers and sisters in the media who feel like we can just crush our subjects and then are stunned when their feelings are hurt. They’re people. Most rational people are sensitive.

The best ones just don’t let it ruin their day and carry life-altering grudges. It’s a waste of time. At 43, Herman has likely not arrived at that juncture of his career yet.

As the head coach at the University of Texas, when the team struggles, he’s going to get it. This is not Houston. When they win, as they are doing now, he deserves credit.

What he did not deserve was to have his personal life splashed around as much of it was this year. Any coach in the arena understands the sports criticism, and must just deal with passionate fans, or dumb sports columnists. To have a single detail of his personal life played out for public consumption was unfair and cruel to the person, and his family.

While Matt Rhule deserves to win the Big 12 Coach of the Year award for doing what he did at Baylor this season, Herman is 1A.

For the first time in too many years to count, the brand of Texas means something beyond that of a joke, an embarrassment or punchline.

The objective is not complete, however, until Bevo bumps off Boomer. Because Texas is Texas, that’s the only way this deal works.

Having worked at Ohio State and Texas, Herman knows this, too.

Including this year’s regular season title, OU now has 12 of the Big 12’s 23 total titles. Texas is second with... three.

Herman may rub some people wrong with his personality, which makes him just another ball coach with a lot of responsibility. The man is generating results at a place where a down year should last about one season once or twice a decade.

The idea that Texas overachieved as the No. 9 team in the country at 9-3 is to say the standard in Austin has changed. It has not. This is what Texas should do, at a minimum.

In a caste system, the standard in Austin was set long before Herman arrived. The standard was set under DKR when college football was becoming a cultural monster that changed universities all over the nation.

To his credit, Tommy Boy has UT closer to that standard than anyone since Mack Brown’s better years.

But UT did not overachieve this season. Texas did what Texas should do.

Now his task is to turn Texas into Oklahoma.

Anything else is underachieving.

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