The Texas football program dates back to 1893. Each day, we look at a little piece of Longhorn history. We’re starting by looking at each Longhorn football season.
Following his best season at Texas, David McWilliams entered the 1991 season with a team ranked No. 14 overall in the preseason poll. The seat was cooled off after the Longhorns won 10 games in 1990, and in the process he went 3-0 against rivals Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas A&M.
But things changed in 1991.
With a junior quarterback entering his third year as a starter, Peter Gardere, and raised expectations for 1990’s breakout star running back, Butch Hadnot, the hype was back at Texas.
But so was the losing. And injuries.
For the fourth time in five years under McWilliams, Texas lost its opening game of the season, this time losing 13-6 to Mississippi State. The following week, against No. 13 Auburn, Texas lost 14-10.
After beating Rice, Texas appeared back on track after knocking off No. 6-ranked Oklahoma in Dallas. Texas’ Bubba Jacques recovered a fumble and returned it 30 yards to give Texas the lead and eventually the win, 10-7.
That set up the 1991 Texas-Arkansas game.
If younger Texas fans have wondered why Arkansas is being included as a rival to Texas, it’s because for about 80 years they shared a conference and are neighboring states. But Arkansas decided to leave the collapsing Southwestern Conference and joined the Southeastern Conference at the start of the 1992 season.
This wouldn’t be the last Texas-Arkansas game, but it would be the last Texas-Arkansas conference game, probably, ever.
Arkansas took a 14-0 lead into halftime in Little Rock. Texas responded with a Phil Brown touchdown in the quarter to cut the score 14-7.
With 10:18 remaining in the game, Brown broke off another big run, this time for 55 yards. Jason Ziegler was set up for the extra point and missed it.
But with 3:45 remaining in the game, another kicker, Jason Post, had an opportunity to give Texas the lead, but missed from 39 yards out. Texas never did take the lead, and Arkansas managed to hang on for the win.
The overall record between Texas and Arkansas is 56-22 in Texas’ favor. Arkansas won the last meeting 31-7 in the Advocare V100 Texas Bowl in 2014. The last regular season match up came in 2008, when Texas beat Arkansas 52-10 in Austin.
Texas is 0-2 against Arkansas in bowl games since the Razorbacks left for the SEC and the two teams have split their regular season matchups, 2-2, since this 1991 game.
Texas finishes the season 3-3, including losses in the last two games of the season against Baylor and Texas A&M.
Days after losing to the Aggies 31-14, McWilliams resigned as head coach of the Longhorns. Here’s what he said:
First of all, I appreciate the support given me during my time here as head coach by DeLoss Dodds, President (William) Cunningham, and the many other loyal UT supporters and alumni. They have always given me their 100-percent support and have given me every opportunity to try to be successful.
After discussions with DeLoss, and upon mutual agreement, I have decided to step aside as head football coach at the University of Texas and have asked to be reassigned for the remainder of my contract.
I certainly have enjoyed my relationship with the players, and it’s been fun. I want to thank my wife, Cindy, and children, Dennis, Corby, Hunter and Summer for their support and their understanding and their many sacrifices allowing me to be in coaching.
I will not rule out the possibility of coaching in the future, but for right now I look forward to doing whatever I can to help the University of Texas and the athletic department and especially our student athletes – in whatever way possible.
This has been a tough decision, and at this time I would rather not entertain any questions.
A list of possible replacements came out the same day. Statesman columnist Kirk Bohls gave us these names: ” Dennis Erickson, Miami. Steve Spurrier, Florida. Why not Bobby Bowden, Florida State? Go for Terry Donahue at UCLA. Let’s see, what’s Barry’s number . . . just kidding.”
Barry, as in Barry Switzer.
My favorite part of Kirk’s column? The last graph mentioning Bill Snyder, who of course has been one of the biggest thorns in Texas’ sides for decades.
Statesman humor columnist, the great John Kelso, had his own thoughts on who should be the new Longhorn coach.
About a week later the coaching searched closed in on Illinois and former NFL coach John Mackovic.
Between McWilliams’ firing and Mackovic’s eventual hire, Texas had coaches like June Jones, an assistant with the Atalanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt and Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips all show interest in the job.
Bohls and Suzanne Halliburton reported that a source was quoted saying this about Wannstedt: “”He’s a superstar on the rise. He’s a real comer. Dave’s got personality. He’s great with the press, and he’s a straight shooter. He’s like a young (Darrell) Royal.”
In the same article, it stated that Mackovic, who was also the athletic director at Illinois, was no longer an option, as this was reported: “Illinois’ John Mackovic, considered to be on Texas’ short list of potential coaches, said that he ‘will not pursue’ the Longhorns vacancy.”
But less than a week after that article Texas hired the 48-year-old Mackovic.
On Dec. 13, he was officially introduced as head coach, saying; “I said all along that money was not the issue. Illinois offered me a package that would virtually take care of me for the rest of my life.
“This was a conscious decision on my part to stay in college football. If I had aspirations in the NFL, I probably would have passed on this job. I’ve said I don’t intend to move again.”
Following the news, standout defensive lineman Shane Dronett opted to enter the NFL Draft.
McWilliams never coached again. Instead he stayed at Texas working in the athletic department until his retirement in March of 2015.