The Texas Mis-Step

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most stunning facts about this past NFL Draft was that there were no Longhorns drafted. Why?

One of the mystifying stats coming out of the 2014 NFL Draft was there wasn't a single player drafted from the University of Texas.

Zero.

Think about that for a minute.

This is the Texas Longhorns we are talking about. They are the flagship college football program in the great football playing state of Texas.

If you even look back at the drafts of 2012 and 2013 there were a grand total of three Longhorns taken in each of those drafts.

How is it that a program like Boise State has produced 10 NFL draftees over the past three years, to the Longhorns six, with virtually no backyard to recruit? Nevada, Utah State, San Diego State, Syracuse, Wisconsin, N.C. State, Rutgers, UConn, Michigan, Illinois, Michigan State, Nebraska, Boston College, USC, UCLA, and Iowa all have generated more draft picks in that time than Texas. 11 SEC teams produced more draftees than the Longhorns during this stretch. Do you realize that Alabama has produced more first round drafts picks (9) over the last three years than the total number of draftees out of Austin?

Then there is the Big 12, where Oklahoma (16), Baylor (11), and West Virginia (8) have all out-produced Texas in terms of the drafts over the last three years.

This explains a lot.

Texas just wasn't Texas under the last few years under coach Mack Brown. Over the last four seasons the Longhorns lost 21 games.

I don't want this to be an indictment towards Brown. He did great things for Texas. Heck, they won a national championship, beating a great USC team, in an epic title game for the ages.

But we have seen this movie before. The same thing happened to the legendary Bobby Bowden at Florida State during the tail end of his career in Tallahassee. Nittany Lion fans were calling for a change at the top at Penn State with Joe Paterno long before the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

In Austin, there is everything in place to succeed, especially in recruiting. Resources are aplenty. Facilities are top-notch. Tradition, academics and playing big time college football are all there. There is nothing this program lacks. All the pieces are in place to thrive.

Oh, did I mention the talent within the borders of the Lone Star State? Annually, there's close to 400 Division 1 prospects. 400. That's a huge number and no state pumps out more players than this one.

But recruiting can be a tricky business because you have to evaluate and recruit the right players for what you do. The same thing can be said for USC, UCLA and programs in Florida, as teams in those parts of the country are saddled around an array of unbelievable football talent.

The essence of being a good recruiter or a staff of good recruiters is not all about the sale pitch. Good recruiters are able to identify the ones needed for their respective programs and then go get them. But the battle doesn't end there because you have to develop them.

That's what has made Boise State. The same can be said with teams like Wisconsin. I can't recall either one of these programs ever sitting inside the top 10 recruiting rankings on an annual basis or ever for that matter.

What's happened with the Longhorns of late is almost unthinkable, especially if you consider the way Brown recruited in Austin. Under his guidance they never finished outside the top 25 in the Scout.com Team Recruiting Rankings. Typically, the Longhorns were top 10 or better.

Of late though, there were too many mis-steps, missed evaluations and losses along the way. Hence, these are big reasons why Brown is no longer coaching at Texas.

Now there's a new sheriff in town and Charlie Strong will face the same challenges that Brown had. Strong has always been a terrific recruiter. At every team he's coached there's no question that he was was an ace recruiter. Strong's been through the battles and he has won championships.

Strong finally got his head coaching break at Louisville and did a masterful job of quickly rebuilding the Cardinals. They won and won big and turned things around in a hurry.

It will begin with recruiting. It always does. Strong and his staff must replenish and develop the roster in Austin.

Twenty-one loses in four seasons is not acceptable. Missing out on dynamic in-state players like Robert Griffin, III, Johnny Manziel and Mike Evans are simply recruiting mistakes and missed evaluations. And their player development has been sub-par.

It was time for a change in Austin, like it was time in Tallahassee when Jimbo Fisher took over the Seminoles. And if you are a fan of the Longhorns, you are hoping to see the same kind of success and soon under Strong.

Part 1, Draft Stats
Part 2, Express Way
Part 3, Conference Breakdown
Part 4, Recruiting Assassins

Coming Tuesday will be an extensive look at the where the Division 1 signees are all coming from.

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