The University of Texas hasn't won double-digit games since losing the BCS national championship game to Alabama in the 2009 season. And 5Dimes NCAA oddsmakers give the Longhorns just a total of six wins for 2015, with 'over' a -200 favorite.
I'm not saying that Texas coach Charlie Strong is on the hot seat after UT was just 6-7 last year in his first season. But I'd say his seat is warm. Some very prominent boosters didn't want Strong hired from Louisville in the first place. And unfortunately, I think race does play a bit of a role in the fact that Strong isn't beloved like the guy he replaced, Mack Brown, was. But then Brown was more CEO of the team than coach; he hobnobbed with boosters all the time. Strong is a dictator-type coach like Nick Saban. He doesn't much care for anything else. But at UT, you have to placate the moneymen. And those ultra-rich boosters would have no problem buying out Strong if Texas finishes below .500 this season.
I'm not saying that will happen, but it's a possibility as UT watches guys like Saban (UT's first target before Strong) and Urban Meyer turn their programs into dynasties. With all due respect to Alabama and Ohio State, the Texas job is probably the best in the country when you consider all the money behind the program, the fan support, the facilities and the incredible high school talent annually in the Lone Star State.
Really the problem for Texas since that 2009 title loss is it hasn't found a good quarterback since then; that '09 team was led by Colt McCoy, who had to leave the national championship game early with an injury or things might have gone differently against the Tide.
David Ash opened last season as the starter but lasted only the opener before getting hurt and choosing to end his football career because of concussion problems. That thrust sophomore Tyrone Swoopes into action and he would start the rest of the way. He and the offense certainly had problems at times. Texas scored only seven points in an embarrassing 34-point home loss to BYU, seven in a 21-point home loss to Baylor, zero in a 23-point loss at Kansas State, 10 in a 38-point home loss to TCU and seven in a 24-point loss to Arkansas in the Texas Bowl. The 6-7 mark was UT's worst since 2010. The Horns didn't beat a single good team, either. Their best win was at unranked Oklahoma State.
Swoopes Retains Starting Job
Swoopes was battling redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard in camp, but it appears that Swoopes will start next week's game at Notre Dame, although it seems like Heard will also see the field. Texas is moving to an up-tempo spread offense this season after averaging only 68 plays per game in 2014, which was last in the Big 12. Swoopes, the No. 2 quarterback recruit nationally in the Class of 2013, obviously has more experience and is the better passer. Heard is much better as a runner. The offense should go through former five-star recruit running back Johnathan Gray. He rushed for 100 yards only once in 2014 while recovering from a torn Achilles. Injures have plagued Gray through the senior's career. Leading rusher Malcolm Brown (708 yards, six TDs) is gone. Also gone are last season's two leading receivers, Josh Harris (68 catches, 1,051 yards, seven TDs) and Jaxon Shipley (59 catches, 577 yards). Only one returning wideout (Marcus Johnson) caught more than 10 passes. Overall, eight starters are back on offense.
On defense, five return. Texas ranked No. 1 in the Big 12 in pass defense (184.2 pass ypg, while allowing TDs on 3.1 percent of opponents’ pass attempts) and sacks (40) while ranking No. 2 in total defense. It should still remain an upper-echelon unit if perhaps slip a bit after losing tackle Malcom Brown, end Cedric Reed, linebackers Jordan Hicks and Steve Edmond, cornerback Quandre Diggs and safety Mykkele Thompson.
As noted, the Horns open Saturday with a tough one at a very good Notre Dame team ranked No. 11. The Irish are 9.5-point favorites. UT should win its other two non-conference games, at home vs. Rice and Cal (although the Bears are capable of the upset). The Big 12 schedule opens at home vs. Oklahoma State. I could see Texas winning every conference game but Oct. 3 at No. 2 TCU, Oct. 10 vs. No. 19 Oklahoma in Dallas and Dec. 5 at No. 4 Baylor. A trip to West Virginia on Nov. 14 isn't a lock by any means.
College Football Free Picks: Texas is +1150 to win the Big 12. That's not happening. This looks like a 7-5 regular season team so go 'over' the total at -200 at 5Dimes. Strong will get a third season.