With the 2018 season just five days away, we wanted to share five thoughts that should make football in Texas great this season. Today we take a look at the state of the State. From where we were to where we've come is reassuring.
A few years ago they were taking their shots. All the out of staters claiming Texas had fallen behind when it came to our game. Of course, when the out of staters take their pot shots, they usually rely on a small sample size. The University of Texas was down. Therefore the entire state must be down as well. Texas fired Charlie Strong after a brief, yet mediocre stint as Texas head coach.
In all honesty, the State wasn't in a great state. Kevin Sumlin and A&M made post-September swoons a tradition, the Art Briles situation at Baylor brought down a burgeoning program, Chad Morris fought for three seasons to bring SMU to average, North Texas went to a bowl game thanks to five wins and a high APR, and Kliff Kingsbury couldn't get out of his own way in Lubbock.
TCU followed up to excellent seasons with a six-win campaign, and the bottom of the barrel was indeed the bottom. Rice was in free fall, UTEP had hit the Kugler Wall, and Texas State was the worst program in college football.
Recruits responded by leaving the State like we were California.
Two years later and so much has changed.
Texas schools are recruiting the top talent in the State again. In 2017, six of the top 25 Texas prep players stayed in state, a historic exodus. Last year eighteen of the top 25 committed to Texas schools. This year ten of the nineteen top 25 recruits are committed inside the State. Holding those lines and keeping Texas players in Texas is critical, not just for the top end of the State but also for the rest of the schools.
Out of State Big 12 schools, SEC, Big 10, and ACC schools have routinely come to Texas to poach kids in our top 100. Now schools like SMU, Houston, Texas Tech, Baylor, and even North Texas and UTSA are closing down our borders and keeping top talent in.
The Mean Green, Roadrunners, Mustangs, and Cougars are all headed to near record recruiting classes, as are schools like Texas State and Rice. Even UTEP is seeing a rejuvenation under first year head man Dana Dimel.
Therein lies the key, Texas schools are stockpiling great coaches. A&M pulled off a coup by convincing a National Title winner to leave a blue blood program for College Station. Jimbo's efforts on the recruiting trail are impressive in a limited sample size. The Aggies are in league with Alabama, Georgia, and Clemson so far in 2019's cycle.
Frank Wilson and UTSA continue to look inside the state and have success outside the state as well. If potential bears fruit, UTSA's skill talent could be historic. They are big, fast, and talented, the likes of which CUSA hasn't seen.
At Rice, Mike Bloomgren is creating a national movement to make the Owls a smaller scale Stanford. He's a new wave visionary with an old-school mindset. For Rice to secure the services of one of the most efficient offensive coordinators in college football was a tremendous win.
Major Applewhite appears ready to come into his own and out of Tom Herman's shadow. Herman meanwhile continues to restore Texas to a national power. Meanwhile, in Fort Worth, Gary Patterson is the benchmark for coaching success in the State.
Matt Rhule has pulled Baylor out of the muck and set them on a path to a bowl in 2018. From where the Bears sat in the summer of 2016, that's just shy of walking across the Brazos.
Don't look but Kliff Kingsbury might have on of the best defenses in the Big 12. Knowing what Kingsbury's offenses typically look like, that's a scary proposition.
In 2016 North Texas was the worst program in the State and one of the worst in college football. Just two years later Seth Littrell has built the Mean Green into a G5 power, a two-time bowl qualifier, and the defending CUSA Western Division Champs. Littrell's squad sits on the cusp of a historic season.
At Texas State Everett Withers is poised to move his program forward after stockpiling talent for two seasons in San Marcos. Withers and his staff are out recruiting Power 5s like Arizona, Oregon State, UCLA, and Maryland. For the third straight year, the 'Cats will set a new bar for the best class in school history. Wins will come.
The formula is simple; it's coaches stupid. Hire good coaches, and shockingly you'll see better football. With better football comes the incentive to invest in facilities and the chance to secure long-term success.
The coaching roster hasn't been this solid top to bottom in years.
Now come the new guys. Like Bloomgren, they are equal parts innovative and all ball. Dana Dimel sat at the right hand of one of the great program builders in NCAA history, Bill Snyder. Dimel in a few short months has transformed UTEP's program from the offensive scheme to the social media campaign. For UTEP, it won't take much to set a new recruiting standard, but Dimel is well on his way to doing so.
SMU welcomed Sonny Dykes back to Texas. Spike's kid knows how to recruit this area as well as anyone, and it's showing. The Mustangs are atop the AAC commitment list and ahead of a wad of Power 5 teams. He'll bring another level of exciting offensive football to the Hilltop.
Buckle up, and more importantly, get out and support your local program it's going to be fun in 2018.