Iowa State's next opponent comes into the game at 7-2, riding a three-game winning streak. The Texas Longhorns are currently scoring 40.3 points/game, 11th best in the country. Texas is 4-2 in conference games, good for third place in the Big 12.
With three games left to play, this is already the best season the Longhorns have had since 2009. So why aren't Texas fans happier about the season?
Well, lots of reasons. Texas is still Texas, which is shorthand for unreasonably high expectations. Having one of the best college football teams of all time will start to raise the stakes for a team. And after winning at least ten games a year from 2001-2009, Longhorn fans were primed to believe that Texas was nearly invincible.
And then 2010 happened. A year after Texas went undefeated in the regular season and appeared in the national championship game, the Longhorns seemingly forgot how to play the game of football. A 5-7 season was a major blow to Texas and Mack Brown's reputation as mediocre teams (Hi UCLA!) took the Longhorns to the woodshed on a weekly basis.
Texas fans, unused to this kind of performance from the Longhorns, staged a mass revolt. Longtime offensive coordinator Greg Davis was the main scapegoat and was fired after the season concluded.
So you'd think that Texas fans would be happy with the Longhorns 7-2 record. You'd be wrong. Now, all but the craziest Texas fans are pleased that the Longhorns are doing relatively well this year. But make no mistake, this Texas team has problems. Hooo boy, does this team have problems, and Texas fans will be glad to lay out in graphic detail exactly what those problems are.
First of all, there's the loss to Oklahoma; a 63-21 thrashing that was somehow less competitive than the final score indicated. That's Texas' third straight loss to their archrivals, something that will stick in any Longhorn fan's craw.
Then there's the wet-napkin of a defense, a unit that's currently allowing 31.6 points per game, tied for 91st in the country. The defense is ranked 100th in the country in total defense, allowing 446.6 yards per game.
And there's the fact that Texas has consistently needed late-game heroics to eke out wins against every conference opponent. The Longhorns have earned their four conference wins by an average of six points, needing last minute touchdowns to beat Oklahoma State and Kansas. In fact, the general consensus is that the late comeback against Kansas saved Mack Brown's job.
Finally, it's the feeling that Mack Brown's best years are behind him, and a growing frustration with his coaching methods. Brown has a .787 winning percentage at Texas, and a .767 Big 12 record, but if you asked most Texas fans, they'd agree that it's probably time for Mack to step down. Which is too bad, because he just signed a giant new contract that will keep him at Texas until 2020.
So yeah, Texas fans aren't exactly sold on this year's team, despite the 7-2 record. Check the threads from Shaggy Bevo, the internet's best source of Longhorn-related anarchy and excellence. Read the forums and you'd think Texas had a losing record. The following threads were started in just the last week.
Do we beat OU under Mack again?
Our strength and conditioning program sucks
Are you or will you root for any of our remaining opponents?
What's wrong with our talent development?
Post a picture of our defense (This one's actually pretty great. Lots of pictures of garbage on fire)
And Mack Brown has born the brunt of the fan's frustration. Brown hasn't helped himself out, sticking his foot in his mouth on an almost weekly basis. First it was the extra time he had to spend dealing with the Longhorn Network and his worries about the competitive advantage the LHN could give other coaches (Quick note: A coach has to be able to actually view a network's programs in order to scheme against you). Mack Brown complaining about his schools personal ESPN network, a network that gives Texas an even bigger advantage over every school in the country, is laughable/infuriating.
Then, Mack moved on to pettier complaints, protesting that the horns down sign was disrespectful to the Longhorns. Of course it is, Mack. It's a taunt; it's meant to be at least a little disrespectful. For anyone wondering when Mack Brown would have his "you kids get off my lawn" moment, you just witnessed it this week. Somehow, that makes Brown the crankiest old man in the Big 12; a conference that includes Bill Snyder, who merely remains an evil wizard shrouded in mystery.
All this has led Texas to its current position, the source of the Longhorn's unhappiness. Texas is currently experiencing something they aren't used to experiencing: A lack of respect. Whereas the Longhorns used to represent the pinnacle of college football, they're now more mockable than perhaps any other time in their history. Whereas the Longhorns used to represent overwhelming talent at every position on the field, now they represent over-privileged athletes and the failings of Mack Brown's recruiting strategy. In fact, if Texas stands for anything in 2012, it's the way greed and bloat can atrophy a once-proud program into a complacent, sloth-like shell of its former self.
Texas already has more built in advantages than any other school in the country. They're the flagship school in the most football-crazed state in the nation. They have the largest athletic budget in the country. They have the best facilities and (supposedly) the best coaches money can buy. They have their own fucking television network. But Texas hasn't been able to use any of this to their advantage for the last three years. And so despite the 7-2 record, despite the best season in recent years, Longhorn fans aren't happy.
So if you venture down to Austin this weekend and you see a frowny Texas fan, give a pat on the back. Maybe a 'lil hug if they'll have it. Cheer up, Longhorns. Things aren't nearly as bad as they seem. You could be an Auburn fan.