From left to right David Ash, Case McCoy, Garrett Gilbert during the first home game against Rice on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2011. Ricardo B. Brazziell AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Brian Davis

American-Statesman Staff

Column

Eyes on Texas: Good riddance to the 2010s, bring on the roaring ’20s

It started so well and televised by Longhorn Network, but the decade featured too many losses and crazy moments to count

Posted December 28th, 2019

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  • Bring on the next decade. Just do us all a favor and leave those three little words — Texas is back! — behind you.
  • This was the decade where everybody was brawling with each other on campus.
  • Orangebloods had their mettle — and blood pressure — tested over the last decade in ways that really should be unfathomable.

The 2010s had so much promise, so much burnt-orange hope.

This decade started with an appearance in the BCS national championship game, and OK, so maybe things didn’t go as planned after the fifth play. But the future was bright, or so Texas fans believed.

The school got its own television network in August 2011, and Justin Tucker cemented his spot in UT history with that field goal over Texas A&M three months later.

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So much optimism in the new 10-team Big 12 once the Aggies made their “100-year decision” and bolted for the SEC.

But now, here we are at the end of the decade and there’s really only prevalent thought running through my head about the last 10 years: Good riddance.

Orangebloods had their mettle — and blood pressure — tested this decade in ways that really should be unfathomable at a school of this size and magnitude. Three coaching changes, more embarrassing losses than exhilarating victories, a thin NFL draft board and two games on national TV that later became national punchlines.

No, folks, Texas is not back.

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How bad was it? Fans were treated to 70 wins this decade, possibly one more depending on the outcome of Tuesday’s Alamo Bowl against No. 11 Utah. Still, that’s the lowest total since the 64 wins in the 1950s. What should bother you more is that it’s right in line with the 1980s and ’90s.

Not one single Big 12 football championship this decade, either.

Texas W/L by the Decades

Here's a look at Texas' win-loss totals by decade going back to the university's first season in 1893.
DecadeWinsLossesTiesPct.
1890s3681.800
1900s60216.690
1910s64181.771
1920s64187.719
1930s47446.485
1940s78213.765
1950s64382.615
1960s86193.796
1970s88261.765
1980s73422.624
1990s74442.617
2000s110190.853
2010s70570.551

This is the school where Mack Brown lost five games in 2013, had a chance to win the league title on the final day of the regular season … and still got fired.

It’s become a program that routinely loses at least five games each year. The 2018 season was the outlier, and that group went 10-4.

What the 2010s ultimately did was prove how good fans had it during the 2000s, when Brown was at the height of his coaching prowess. Vince Young and Colt McCoy sure helped, but Texas won 110 games that decade and cranked out a bunch of NFL players along the way.

Now, Texas is a school where the head coach mocks the opposing team’s quarterback in victory, head-butts his own player before defeat and shoots two middle fingers at the LHN cameras.

Oh, there were some spectacular moments, to be sure. Garrett Gilbert was ultimately booed out of Royal-Memorial Stadium, but one January night in Pasadena, Calif., against Alabama, he was damn near perfect.

Brown and his wife, Sally, leaving the Alamodome together in 2013, heads held high doing the “Hook ’em,” should forever be one of the most iconic moments in Texas athletic history.

Texas’ head coach, Mack Brown and his wife, Sally, sing “The Eyes of Texas” after defeating Texas A&M 27-25 at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas, on Thursday, November 24, 2011.

That 2016 season-opening win over Notre Dame was one of the loudest moments in stadium history, right up there with the 1990 Houston or 2012 West Virginia games.

The Sugar Bowl win was incredible. Just ask Uga. And so what if Sam Ehlinger was a little excited on the post-game podium?

But there were just too many awkward decisions, bad losses and plain head-scratching moments to trump the good ones.

Taysom Hill is still hurdling his way through the Austin night. Tank Jackson would now like to go on offense first against UCLA, please. Anybody want more of Maryland? At least all the stars aligned for Kansas only once in 2016.

It wasn’t smooth sailing off the field, either. Athletic director Chris Del Conte nowadays is preaching “alignment.” Oh, there was plenty of alignment against Steve Patterson. Mike Perrin’s time as AD is likely to be a footnote in UT history, but without him pulling people off the walls, who knows how bad it would’ve gotten?

This was the decade where everybody was brawling with each other: UT regents sparred internally, UT presidents gave as good as they got, the athletic directors sparred with fans and it was all out there for everyone to see.

Lest we overlook the other bright spots in the overall UT athletic world, this was a total decade of dominance for Eddie Reese’s swimmers. Men’s golf and men’s tennis both won national titles, and the volleyball program won it all in 2012 and is still dominant.

Financially speaking, this was an immaculate decade in the till. Texas became the first athletic program to take in more than $200 million in revenue in a given year but spend it just as fast. The UT logo itself is powerful, still one of the top-selling brands in all of college sports.

We lost some good ones, though. Darrell Royal is somewhere laughing with Freddie Steinmark and diagramming 53 Veer Pass. James Street is crowing about his multi-sport skills and Huston’s fastball. Augie Garrido is now ordering Babe Ruth to bunt.

Us mortals still can’t believe what we’re seeing down here, either. Mack Brown once again wearing Carolina blue? Rick Barnes wearing Tennessee orange? Funny how both seem to be on the upswing again.

Ugh, the 2010s were brutal for Texas fans. Not a single Big 12 championship in football, men’s basketball or women’s basketball — three of the big four sports. Oklahoma, Kansas and Baylor mostly ruled the roost in those sports, respectively.

Texas baseball did get the 2011 and 2018 league crowns with some big roller-coaster moments along the way.

Maybe the 2020s will be better. They have to be, right? Law of averages and all.

DeLoss Dodds always said that at places like Texas, the lows aren’t as low as they’d be elsewhere. No school of this stature would, you know, stoop to sending its university president to Tulsa, Okla., just to hire an offensive coordinator. Well, it’s all in one’s perspective.

Bring on the next decade. Just do us all a favor and leave those three little words — Texas is back! — behind you.

Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com.

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