Inside

Tom Her­man ready to re­turn Longhorns to past glory.

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS -

FRISCO, Texas — When Tom Her­man first met with Texas play­ers af­ter be­com­ing their coach, he asked who had been part of a win­ning sea­son with the Longhorns. Only three raised their hands.

Then there are the high school play­ers the Longhorns are re­cruit­ing now, 16- and 17-year-old kids who Her­man points out have seen Texas put up twice as many los­ing sea­sons (four) as Big 12 ti­tles in their life­times.

“The Texas they know is a lot dif­fer­ent than the Texas that peo­ple in my gen­er­a­tion know,” Her­man, 42, said Tues­day at Big 12 me­dia days. “So it’s our job to show them what Texas is ca­pa­ble of, what Texas has been in the past, and what we’re plan­ning on be­ing again in the fu­ture.”

That is the start­ing point for Her­man, who eight months ago took over a Texas pro­gram com­ing off three con­sec­u­tive los­ing sea­sons for the first time since the 1930s.

Texas won the Big 12’s last na­tional cham­pi­onship, but that was way back in 2005 with quar­ter­back Vince Young. Since the Longhorns won their last con­fer­ence ti­tle in 2009, Ok­la­homa has won four of its record 10 Big 12 ti­tles.

The Soon­ers also have a new coach this sea­son. But Lin­coln Ri­ley, who is nine years younger than Her­man, took over a team that won the past two Big 12 cham­pi­onships and went to a play­off game in 2015 be­fore coach Bob Stoops’ sur­prise re­tire­ment last month.

Her­man was a young grad­u­ate as­sis­tant at Texas in 1999 and 2000, early in coach Mack Brown’s ten­ure that in­cluded the 2005 na­tional cham­pi­onship. The Longhorns had won the in­au­gu­ral Big 12 ti­tle un­der John Mack­ovic in 1996, but he was gone a year later af­ter a los­ing sea­son and was re­placed by Brown.

The sit­u­a­tion is a bit dif­fer­ent for Her­man’s re­turn as head coach. Texas was 16-21 in three sea­sons un­der Char­lie Strong (Batesville, Univer­sity of Cen­tral Arkansas).

“I know that it went through a tremen­dous storm,” Her­man said. “There was a lot of non-con­ti­nu­ity … there just wasn’t any sta­bil­ity from the top down.”

That was also the stretch when long­time ath­letic di­rec­tor DeLoss Dodds re­tired. An­other AD has since come and gone, and the school’s pres­i­dency also changed hands dur­ing that time.

“Other than that, I haven’t re­ally spent a whole lot of time think­ing about it be­cause, you know, what’s done is done,” Her­man said. “And our job is to make sure that what­ever hap­pened doesn’t hap­pen again.”

Her­man said he hasn’t had a whole lot of time to re­flect on his short time at Texas, “nor will I here shortly.”

When on the podium to start the sec­ond day of the league’s me­dia days, Her­man didn’t even wait for re­porters to ask him about ex­pec­ta­tions for the Longhorns. He said dur­ing his in­tro­duc­tory re­marks that he didn’t know, but that his team will be trained as well as any­body in the coun­try and will play to its max­i­mum po­ten­tial.

“What that is, I don’t know right now, but I feel good that these guys are will­ing to do what­ever we ask them to com­ing off the three-year stretch that this pro­gram has had,” Her­man said. “They don’t want that to be their legacy. They want to be re­mem­bered as the team and the group that turned this thing around. I think we’re well on our way.”

AP/LM OTERO

Texas coach Tom Her­man is hop­ing to re­turn the Longhorns back to their win­ning ways af­ter the pro­gram went 16-21 in three sea­sons un­der Char­lie Strong (Batesville, Univer­sity of Cen­tral Arkansas), who was fired in Novem­ber.

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