- Athletic director Chris Del Conte said he understands why fans are so upset.
- Head coach Tom Herman said, "We need to be critical of ourselves," no matter if Texas wins big or small or loses.
- Del Conte doesn't want to call this a rebuilding year but knows the fan base has suffered the last five or six years.
Just two games into this college football season, Texas is preaching patience.
Over performance. Apparently.
Both have been very thin so far in the early going as the Longhorns have struggled to find some consistency in matchups with lesser teams Maryland and Tulsa.
After holding off the Golden Hurricane 28-21 at home Saturday night, Texas has alienated a big portion of its own fan base at the same time both athletic director Chris Del Conte and head coach Tom Herman fall back on the unpopular narrative that the Longhorns are showing signs of improvement. Modest improvement.
Asked Monday morning about his level of concern over Texas’ 1-1 start, Del Conte told me, “None.”
“We’re two games in. I’ve only been here two games,” he elaborated. “I understand everyone’s wants and wishes. They’re no different from mine.”
Asked if this is a true rebuilding season, Del Conte said, “I don’t want to get in that conversation. I think we have good players and a good team. We just have to put it all together. The fan base has had a tumultuous last five or six years. I understand that. We’re making progress to get better, and that’s my focus.”
As short a time as both Del Conte and Herman have been on campus, they’re feeling the wrath of Longhorn Nation for the ineptitude of the last eight-plus seasons. Both grasp the intensity of hard feelings on the part of the fans, but Herman said he “absolutely loves” the fans and their, uh, passion, which cuts both ways.
“My job is to realistically look at the last five or six years,” Del Conte said. “I see where we’ve been and where we’re going. Last year we won our first bowl game in five years. I understand anxieties. I’m just trying to put things into perspective and look how we’re progressing week in and week out and control what I can control.”
Of course, that’s what you do after starting 1-1 with a favorable schedule that ratchets up considerably the next month, starting with No. 22 USC on Saturday.
Likewise, Herman stressed the positivity of a win, any win, after opening the season with a loss at Maryland.
“I think our guys have done a good job of blocking out all the noise,” Herman said Monday. “They have also done a good job understanding what it takes to win. I tell our staff every Sunday when we meet, we need to go back — whether we win by 50, whether we lose, whether we win by a touchdown — we need to be critical of ourselves.”
In that vein, we’re here to help, Tom.
Many of the faithful have already checked out and are waiting to be won over again because their expectations have been doused so frequently. That said, nothing would salve their wounds faster than a victory over a name-brand Trojans team, even one that managed just three points in a loss to Stanford last weekend.
Herman won’t get too far ahead of himself with a first-half schedule that pits Texas against USC, TCU and Oklahoma soon, but he also realizes Saturday represents a huge measuring stick for his Longhorns.
“I think that’s the beauty of football,” he said. “The No. 1 pillar of our program is to go 1-0 (each week). I would be shocked if I asked the players if there’s guys thinking about the next week and the next week and the next week and they told me yes. I just don’t sense that in our program.”
There’s no reason Texas should look past Saturday. But fans are ready for more than just Bevo to come out of the fog.
“We’ve got a ways to go,” Del Conte said. “All the talk is crazy right now. Tom’s a damn good coach. He understands the hand he’s been dealt. This is where we’re at. I know where we’ve been. I saw from the outside. We’re working on progress and walking down the road together.”