The Texas football spring game is tomorrow, and we’re almost out of facts.
But here are some ones that might peak your interest on this spring game eve. As Tom Herman prepares for his first season, let’s take a look at how his predecessors did in their debuts.
Perhaps Texas fans should have seen the writing on the wall when bad luck and even worse defense conspired to spoil Strong’s first season on the 40 Acres in 2014. The Longhorns finished 6-7 after starting quarterback David Ash’s college career ended on the second drive of the season. That forced sophomore Tyrone Swoopes into action. It could have been worse, as three-game winning streak to become bowl eligible ended up as maybe the highlight of Strong’s three miserable seasons.
The year was 1998, and somehow Brown convinced the best running back in college football to come back for his senior season. Who knows what might have happened otherwise. The Longhorns went 9-3 as Ricky Williams captured the Heisman Trophy with a masterful campaign: 361 rushed, 2,124 yards, 28 total TDs. Texas beat Mississippi State 38-11 in the Cotton Bowl and landed at No. 15 in the postseason AP poll.
The Longhorns went 6-5 in 1992 and missed going to a bowl, but Mackovic did beat No. 16-ranked Oklahoma as part of five-straight wins in the middle of the season. Losses to Rice and Baylor meant Texas finished in a four-way tie for second in the Southwest Conference, and a 34-13 loss to No. 4-ranked Texas A&M left a bad taste at the end of the season.
Things got worse before they got better — and then worse again — for McWilliams, but his first year in 1987 served as a solid start. After taking over a team that finished 5-6 the year before, he led Texas to a 7-5 campaign that finished with a win over No. 19-ranked Pittsburgh in the Bluebonnet Bowl. The Longhorns also beat No. 15-ranked Arkansas that year in Little Rock on Bret Stafford’s last-second pass to Tony Jones.
A magical first season for Akers came up one win shy of a national championship, and served as a prelude for what could be the lasting image of his 10 seasons. After finishing 5-5-1 in Darrell Royal’s final season, the Longhorns reeled off 11-straight wins to begin 1977 behind Heisman Trophy-winner Earl Campbell. They arrived to the Cotton Bowl ranked No. 1 for the sixth consecutive game. Alas, No. 5-ranked Notre Dame spoiled championship hopes by beating Texas 38-10.
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