Texas coming to grips with one of the most disappointing seasons in school history, as a team that began the season No. 9 in the AP poll coming off a Sugar Bowl win over Georgia limps to the finish line, where the only thing the Longhorns are playing for is to avoid their fifth 6-6 or worse season in their last six tries.
Heading into their regular season finale against Texas Tech, Texas ranks at or near the bottom in Big 12 play in the following categories:
-- Missed tackles
-- Sacks allowed
Most concerning, Texas spent a period of the season with its offense carrying a struggling defense (48 points allowed to Kansas, 37 to TCU), then improved the defense only to see the offense break (30 points scored in losses to Iowa State and Baylor).
You could write a book about what went wrong for Texas, where it went wrong and why, but really it doesn't get more complicated than a team that won 10 games in 2018 and expected more in 2019 instead has six.
"A big charge of mine in the offseason is to find a way to get (the players) better developed and put them in better positions to succeed," Herman said Monday.
When asked if the staff should get more out of two top-5 recruiting classes, Herman said, simply, "Yes."
"It's our job, we recruited them and their personalities, so it's our job to find the right buttons to push," he continued. "If you're giving them these tools and the young man is not using those tools, then it's your job to educate them. We've got to figure out where we failed in that area and make sure that doesn't happen again.
He said later: "I'm obviously in big time evaluation mode of everything throughout our program. I'm not going to bury my head in the sand. It's my job to make sure we play to the right level that is expected at the University of Texas."
To make a gross understatement: this is not going be easy for Herman, but he doesn't make $6.75 million a year to make easy decisions. Herman brought almost his entire staff with him from Houston, and the only change he's made through two off-seasons to date was hiring Herb Hand away from Auburn when the NCAA-approved 10th assistant went live in early 2018.
So, the challenge will be not only to look close friends in the eye and tell them their services are no longer needed, but to make changes that strike the proper chord between needed growth and necessary continuity.
As it stands, the 11-man staff (counting Herman himself) is heavily skewed toward offense:
Tom Herman, head coach
Tim Beck, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks
Stan Drayton, associate head coach/run game coordinator/running backs
Drew Mehringer, passing game coordinator/wide receivers
Herb Hand, co-offensive coordinator/offensive line
Corby Meekins, wide receivers
Derek Warehime, tight ends/special teams coordinators
Todd Orlando, defensive coordinator/linebackers
Craig Naivar, co-defensive coordinator/safeties
Jason Washington, cornerbacks/recruiting coordinator
Oscar Giles, defensive line
Additionally, the support staff skews toward offense as well, headlined by former North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora and former Kansas State offensive coordinator Andre Coleman.
Complicating matters more is that recruiting has and is gone very well for Texas. The 247Sports Composite rankings ranked Texas No. 3 in 2018 and again in 2019, and the 2020 class -- headlined by 5-star running back Bijan Robinson and 4-star defensive tackle Vernon Broughton -- ranks No. 7 with just over three weeks left before the December signing period. The 2021 class also ranks No. 4 in the country (albeit, with more than a year until ink meets paper.)
So, there's no question the next days and weeks will be the most challenging of Herman's 5-year career as a head coach, and he did offer one clue as to where he might turn next. When asked which people he leans upon for advice during tough times, Herman mentioned Mack Brown, his wife Michelle... and Larry Fedora.
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.