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Tom Herman inherits a talented Texas roster and favorable recruiting situation

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NCAA Football: Tulane at Houston Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Charlie Strong is out at Texas after losing an incredible 21 games in three years. In comes Tom Herman, of Houston, who was the top candidate.

Strong’s gamble on talented youth, booting a huge number of existing players when he arrived, did not pay off. As SB Nation’s Richard Johnson writes, even modest expectations could not be met.

With its resources and brand equity within the state, there is no excuse for the last seven years of Longhorns football under Mack Brown and Strong. It’s not like the program has been near the top of the mountain and fallen short lately. The Horns have missed two bowl games and watched in-state foes Baylor, TCU, and Texas A&M all taste various amounts of glory while they have failed to even tread water at times since 2010.

Strong made Texas’ decision easy after losing to Kansas. It is, and should be, unacceptable to be 16-21 as the head coach of Texas, and especially to be 12-15 in the worst power conference in the country.

Texas’ defense has been atrocious. And its offense has been hit or miss. With the threat of play action, it’s fairly effective. But on third and seven-plus and fourth down, its conversion rate ranks 123rd nationally. And when facing Big 12 defenses, that is a glaring weakness.

Tom Herman inherits a talented roster.

Over the last four cycles, only 12 teams have signed a greater percentage of elite players than the Longhorns. Expectations will be high due to the talent he inherits.

Strong has, by all accounts, also changed the culture around Texas for the better. These are reasons why, despite mediocre results, he had a chance to keep his job had he not lost to Cal, Kansas, etc. Herman will benefit from all that, and from the fact that Texas loses just four senior starters to graduation.

Recruiting-wise, though, Texas does not have a great class at the moment.

Strong was old school in the way his Texas teams closed on Signing Day, the antithesis of how predecessor Mack Brown locked down classes in August. And as I wrote in April, recruits were, and are playing the waiting game with the Longhorns (and Aggies) this year. That proved to be correct.

Texas has just seven commits, though five are rated four-stars. That’s a good start on a ratio basis, but it is light on quantity. While some prospects like early enrollee linebackers Baron Browning and Anthony Hines may not be giving Texas a shot, there is still talent to be had.

I expect Tom Herman to elevate Texas recruiting over what it had under Strong.

Herman is a dynamic recruiter, and specifically in the city of Houston, which is not necessarily traditional Longhorns’ territory, as it is just 100 miles from Texas A&M. Houston has some elite-level prospects considering Texas this year, including defensive tackle Marvin Wilson, offensive tackle Walker Little, and defensive end K’Lavon Chaisson. Texas’ only national championship since 1970 came when it was recruiting the Houston area well, most notably in signing QB Vince Young.

Herman is getting a pretty sweet gig from a talent and recruiting standpoint. And what’s more, the new guy will be able to put that talent to use against the least talented competition of any Power 5 league. It’s likely he’ll be able to do what Charlie Strong could not: win.

Strong lost 21 games in three years. I’d be shocked if Herman doesn’t cut that in half in his first three.


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