It was a good year for Longhorn athletics, both at home and abroad, on a court and in a course and definitely, like insanely good, in a pool.
10. Texas men’s basketball beat No. 3 Oklahoma
It’s the biggest win of the Shaka Smart era so far and it’s not even close. Smart and his scrappy first Longhorn team nearly beat Oklahoma on the road a few weeks earlier, falling 63-60, but welcomed National Player of the Year Buddy Hield and the Sooners to Club Erwin.
Texas trailed almost the whole game, including 58-51 with 7:29 left. The Longhorns had’em right where they wanted’em. A 22-0 run over the next 6:52 by the Longhorns is the best seven minutes of basketball Texas has played the last two years, probably more. Texas won 76-63 and beat a ranked team for a school record fourth time in the season.
9. Texas beats Notre Dame to start the football season
Had Texas went on to have a solid season, had Texas made a bowl game, had Texas not had a third straight losing season, this would have been No. 1 on this list. But in the end, the shine of the Longhorns’ thrilling double-overtime win over the Fighting Irish wore off halfway through the season.
Still, this was one of the best Longhorn regular season football game in years. Texas looked “back” from whatever the last six years has been and beat a top 10 team at home 50-47. The crowd was fired up, Charlie Strong got picked up by his players, a freshman quarterback was really, really good and the offense scored 50 points. All gravy. Tyrone Swoopes and the 18-Wheeler package won the game.
Then the rest of the season happened.
8. Everything Beau Hossler
The two-time Big 12 golfer of the year turned pro after his junior season. He leaves as one more accomplished golfers in school history.
Hossler’s five wins this season was the third-most in school history behind Ben Crenshaw (seven in 1973, six in 1972). Out of 37 rounds this season, Hossler finished under par 29 times and posted two 64s and two 65s. The 21-year-old missed the NCAA Tournament final matchups because of a torn labrum, keeping one of the world’s top-ranked amateurs from bringing home a championship. He won the Fred Haskins Award as the best college golfer (first Longhorn to do so since 1997) in the country and was a finalist for other accolades.
7. Texas women reach the Elite Eight
Texas trailed UCLA 17-11 after the first quarter, but outscored the Bruins 24-10 in the fourth quarter en route to a 72-64 Sweet 16 victory. It was the program’s 31st win of the season, and most wins since the 1987-88 team. It was the first regional final for the Texas women since 2003 and first under coach Karen Aston.
Yeah, Texas ran into eventual national champ Connecticut in the next round and their season came to an end, but the last victory of the season was special. Imani Boyette had her first postseason double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds and Ariel Atkins, Brooke McCarty scored 16 and 15 points.
6. “If you don’t want to go to Texas, don’t let him get on your couch”
Look, you can criticize Charlie Strong for a lot of things, but the guy follows the ABCs to a tee: Always Be Closing.
Strong’s National Signing Day was one of the best days of his coaching tenure, and probably new coach Tom Herman’s as well. It started very early, the first entry in our national signing day live blog was 6:00 a.m. Texas went from middle of the back recruiting class to one of the best classes in the nation. At the end of the day 24 players committed or signed to the Longhorns and that was good enough for the best class in the Big 12.
Texas' six highest-rated recruits all committed after the new year. Very impressive job by the coaching staff.
— Ryan Autullo (@AutulloAAS) February 3, 2016
— Longhorn Network (@LonghornNetwork) February 3, 2016
The best quote came from defensive tackle Chris Daniels “All I’ve got to say is that If you don’t want to go to Texas, don’t let him get on your couch. Because the man is persuasive. He’s like an uncle to me. Uncle Charlie, for real.”
Uncle Charlie now lives in Tampa.
5. D’Onta Foreman’s Doak season
Foreman rushed for 2,028 yards and scored 15 touchdowns. He was the NCAA’s leading rusher, an AP All-American and the clear winner of the Doak Walker Award for the nation’s top running back. Some how he wasn’t a Heisman Trophy finalist. Oh, well. He broke Earl Campbell’s 100-yard rushing game streak this season, had more carries in a single game than anyone in school history against Kansas and was the best thing about Texas football this season.
4. Volleyball reaches the Final Four
For the second year in a row the Longhorns were national runners-up, reaching the Final Four and the National Championship game in Columbus. The 27-5 Longhorns lost to Stanford in the title game, but that didn’t take away from the amazing season they had. Micaya White, Ebony Nwanebu, Yaazie Bedart-Ghani and Chloe Collins had spectacular seasons, with White winning Big 12 Newcomer of the Year as well as being named to the NCAA All-Tournament team along with Nwanebu.
3. Courtney Okolo, national champion, Olympic gold medalist
Okolo is the 2016 Bowerman Award winner as the best track athlete in the nation.
Okolo dominated the Big 12 conference, winning the 200 and 400 indoor titles. She set meet records in both events. Okolo took her third straight title in the outdoor 400 event and helped win the title on the 400 relay team. She’s the only woman to run a sub-51 in the 400 at the Big 12 meet, accomplishing that feat twice.
She set the 400-meter record and won multiple NCAA championships. She broke her own mark in the 400 meters in her outdoor debut this year by running a 49.71 at the LSU Alumni Gold in April. Okolo won the same event at the NCAA outdoor championships with a time of 50.36 seconds. In addition, she anchored the Longhorns’ 1600-meter relay to help Texas come from behind and claim victory at the NCAA championships.
In August, she won gold at the Olympics in the 4X400 relay to basically become the top athlete on campus.
2. The Olympics and all the Longhorns
Past and present Longhorns dominated at the Rio Olympics.
Here is a list of Longhorns who won GOLD medals:
- Kevin Durant, men’s basketball
- Courtney Okolo, 4X400m relay
- Morolake Akinosum, 4×100 relay
- Ryan Crouser, shot put
- Jimmy Feigen, 4x100m freestyle relay
- Townley Haas, 4x200m freestyle relay
- Jack Conger, 4x200m freestyle relay
- Clark Smith, 4x200m freestyle relay
- Joseph Schooling, 100m butterfly
- Michelle Carter, shot put
Then Chrisann Gordon won silver in the 4x400m relay in track and field, Rachel Adams won bronze in volleyball and Ashley Spencer won bronze in the 400 meter hurdles.
The moment for all Longhorns, outside of the 4×200 freestyle that featured three Longhorn swimmers, was Schooling’s jaw-dropping win in the 100 meter butterfly. The greatest swimmer in the history of water was competing against him, Michael Phelps, and posted the third fasted time ever in the 100 meter butterfly with a 50.3 second time. Schooling is entering his junior season at Texas and with the win he earned free flights for life to his native country of Singapore.
1. MEN’S SWIMMING and DIVING
Texas is the Alabama of the pool. Seriously. There are swimming and diving programs, then there is Texas.
Men’s swimming won its 12th national title this season year. That’s more titles than football, basketball and baseball put together and it’s not even close. It’s because they have probably the greatest coach in the athletic department’s history (sorry Darrell, Cliff, Mack and Augie, but Eddie has you beat) in Eddie Reese. He’s been the coach since 1979 and here is what he has done:
- No. 1 all-time with 12 NCAA men’s swimming and diving team titles
- 23 NCAA top-two finishes
- 30 NCAA top-three finishes (he’s been the coach for 38 years)
- The only college swimming coach to win NCAA titles in four separate decades
Go look that list of Olympic winners. There’s a reason they’re all from Texas.
This year though Reese’s squad, which featured three Olympic gold medal winners, scored 541.5 points to beat second-place Cal’s 351. Joseph Schooling and Will Licon won gold and Townley Haas swam the fastest 800 freestyle split in NCAA history with a 1:30.52. That was the second NCAA record he set, going 1:30.46 in the 200 meter free the day before.
Get caught up with the end of the year series:
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