Welcome to 2014, where the Longhorns are no longer Texas’ premier team


I’ll say it. The Texas Longhorns are no longer the “premier team” in the state of Texas.

The days of everyone coming second to the University Texas are over. Sure, the Horns have more money than Oregon has uniform combinations. However, Texas has lost its edge.

Texas still has its power and its say, but from a non-business standpoint, Texas has lost its luster. There was a time when Texas losing was considered an upset. Nowadays, it’s just accepted that Texas isn’t the powerhouse it once was just half a decade ago.

Something happened in that 2009 BCS National Championship Game. Not to say the Longhorns are cursed, but when Colt McCoy went down, so did the program in so many ways.

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The Longhorns lost its shot at a second national title under Mack Brown, but this tradition-rich football team was never the same afterwards.

It all started with September 25, 2010. The unranked UCLA Bruins rocked the Longhorns, 34-12, in Austin, Texas. It was a colossal achievement for Rick Neuheisel’s Bruins. However, it was the beginning of dark days for Texas football.

A Garrett Gilbert-led Longhorns team dropped from seventh in the polls to unranked. They suffered another loss the following week to the Oklahoma Sooners.

While Texas somehow managed to beat a fifth-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers squad the week after the Red River Rivalry game, UT went on a four-game losing streak and lost to Texas A&M in the final game of their more-than-mediocre 2010 season.

The Longhorns haven’t endured a losing season since 2010, but good ole Mack wasn’t getting the job done anymore. Less-than-10 win seasons just aren’t acceptable when you’re Oklahoma or Texas.

So following Texas’ 8-5 season in 2013, UT replaced Brown with Charlie Strong. And while it appears Strong is doing his best to clean up this struggling program, it might be too late for Texas.

When you look around the state of Texas, everyone took advantage of Brown’s last four seasons to play catch up with the Horns. And boy, have they caught up.

Texas A&M was already a great program, but the Aggies are a force in the can-do-no-wrong SECvno2. Johnny “The Money Man” Manziel laid the foundation, and Kevin Sumlin is continuing to grow A&M in to arguably the premier destination for college football in the state of Texas.

They have all the amenities recruits love. Tradition. Conference prestige. A competent and likable head coach. And results.

However, Texas A&M isn’t alone. The Baylor Bears of the Big 12 are no longer a doormat. In fact, they have a firm grip on the Big 12 Conference and are in the middle of defending their 2013 Big 12 Championship.

The Bears don’t have the history. However, they’ve got the uniforms, the system, the stadium, and a brilliant leader at head coach to make them appealing to recruits.

It didn’t happen overnight for the Bears, but it sure felt that way from Robert Griffin III to Nick Florence to Bryce Petty.

And let’s not forget the TCU Horned Frogs. TCU isn’t exactly there yet. Yes, they won a Rose Bowl a few years back. But their time in the Big 12 has been less than spectacular.

The Frogs’ win over Oklahoma, though, has sent a clear message to the Big 12: TCU has finally showed up to the party and they’re ready to dance.

This may be a bit of an overreaction, and we’ll definitely know more on Saturday, but TCU has the making for one of the best defenses in the country under long-tenured head coach Gary Patterson. Plus, Trevone Boykin is a dark-horse Big 12 Player of the Year candidate.

If TCU can keep this up, and sustain it for years to come, it only makes the Big 12 better.

So where does this leave Texas?

The Longhorns are 2-3, and this season feels lost for them. Too many injuries. Too young of a quarterback. Texas should lose this weekend.

However, even if Texas wins, it won’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. Oklahoma fans will mourn the loss, but in reality, the Red River “Showdown” used to have conference and national title implications.

And while the Sooners still have a chance at the Big 12 crown this season, I’m not sure Texas will get anywhere as close as it did last year to winning the Big 12.

About ten years ago, OU-Texas was “the game.” But Texas has lost its control. And while it didn’t seem fair Texas got a cute TV network from ESPN, the playing field has been leveled.

Give the Charlie Strong experiment some time, maybe he’s the right guy for the job. However, the state of Texas is no longer a one-school state and it only makes this era of college football that much better…..and weirder.