The enthusiasm is palpable four months before the season opener against Maryland.
You’ve seen axes being taken to the old Moncrief-Neuhaus locker room that once housed national champions.
You’ve seen the model for state-of-the-art lockers being planned at nearly $10,000 apiece.
All on the web.
It’s all under the auspices of Tom Herman, a new coach full of confidence and unapologetic swagger.
His message of accountability and a return to excellence is one we’ve all heard before, but never like this.
Herman hasn’t conducted any formal interviews with the Austin media since the annual Orange-White spring game, but his Texas promotional machine is full steam ahead via social media.
There was a time when football programs needed press conferences and public appearances to gauge the feeling of a coaching staff during the summer, but today’s climate has changed considerably. The university has the Longhorn Network and Twitter to spread its “This is Texas” message during an offseason transition on the Forty Acres.
Having been around the program for nearly two decades the hype game has done a real 180-degree turnaround since the days when the World Wide Web was considered a fad by some. Nowadays, college football coaches have embraced the idea of self-promotion through tools like social media like never before, and Texas has gone all-in during this offseason, particularly Herman who has the gift for GIFs and whatever else he can post on his @CoachTomHerman account that’s rapidly closing in on 100,000 followers.
A quick scan of Herman’s account this week revealed a video of technology titan Michael Dell, TeamsM2 CEO Carrie Cecil and former Texas football players Lance Gunn and Jordan Shipley, giving life advice to a roomful of football players that are on notice by this aggressive coaching staff that things are changing around here.
His most trusted lieutenant, defensive coordinator Todd Orlando, tweeted a poster of the entire coaching staff with numbers attached — including the program’s four national championships — and the world “PROVEN” scrawled across the bottom.
So is this hype or substance?
It’s definitely hype right now, but it could be both. Only what happens in the fall will answer that question.
So the old-school players out there just asked: will this add up to wins?
Great question. Texas was going to win seven or eight games in 2017 no matter how much the coaches tweet this summer, but Herman’s plans has long-reaching motive.
He’s making his move on middle-school kids and high school freshmen who spend most of their days playing video games and surfing the web. The coaching staff is calling its current recruiting mission #RevolUTion18.
Then there’s unspoken competition with programs Texas will play in the fall. Like Oklahoma, for instance.
“Don’t be mad at the Longhorn’s enthusiasm,” running backs coach Stan Drayton tweeted Thursday. “Nothing great” has ever been “achieved” without enthusiasm. Keep hunting coaches!”
Herman’s wife Michelle, not one to let the boys have all the fun, bared her cyber-fangs this past week. After her hubby landed verbal commitments from quarterback Casey Thompson, former Sooner QB commit Cameron Rising from California, and Putnam, Okla. product Ron Tatum, a four-star defensive end, Oklahoma assistant coach Kerry Cooks subtweeted a photo of a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
“Young ones beware “real recognize real” lots of false prophets lurking,” he tweeted. Many took it as a shot at OU’s Red River rival, including the current first lady of Texas football, who responded with a photo of four wolves, describing how their survival depends on their ability to work to together while hunting.
“Longhorns out there hunting like wolves,” she tweeted with a #ThisIsTexas hashtag.
Of course the most important battles will be waged on a football field, particularly the one at the Cotton Bowl when the Horns and Sooners get together in October.
Texas ex Paul Boyette, Jr. told Kirk Bohls and I on our “On Second Thought” podcast that he noticed a difference in effort from watching the spring game compared to some of the teams he played on at Texas.
“Everybody wasn’t all-in when coach Strong was there,” he said. “I’m a testament to that. I’ve lived it, I’ve breathed it. I played there. Now you can see the culture change. It’s a culture shock. Everybody’s going hard. Everybody is giving everything they have in the tank because everybody believes in each other.”
With that said, the bravado of Texas’ latest coaching gives the fanbase hope.
It’s a start. One tweet at a time.