The term success doesn’t have one uniform definition, especially for the Longhorns.
A decade ago, the burnt orange faithful would consider anything short of 10 wins a failure. Times have changed on the 40 Acres. Former head coach Mack Brown walked off the field for the last time in the 2013 Alamo Bowl following Texas’ 30-7 loss to Oregon. Charlie Strong put forth a valiant effort but will likely be remembered for his loss to Kansas. And now, it’s the halfway point for Tom Herman’s first season.
Six games in, Herman has already experienced a heartbreaking loss to then-No. 4 USC and another close defeat at the hands of then-No. 12 Oklahoma last Saturday. But for Herman, those games were never a major factor in determining the success of his first season.
“Success has a lot of definitions,” Herman said. “For us, we’ve never said we want to make a bowl game, or we want to beat Oklahoma, or we want to beat USC. We said we want to be in the conversation for the Big 12 title in the months of November and December.”
Although the success of the season is still in tact, the first Big 12 loss the Longhorns suffered wasn’t just any loss. It was a 29-24 loss to arch-rival Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl.
“We understand that losing to Oklahoma is never fun. It’s never easy,” Herman said. “It stings worse than most losses do. We also understand that we’re one of a bunch of one-loss teams in the conference.”
Saturday’s loss created a five-way tie for second place in the Big 12. And Texas’ schedule isn’t getting easier, not with matchups against No. 10 Oklahoma State and No. 4 TCU in the next three weeks.
“We’ve got the playing hard and playing physical part figured out,” Herman said. “We didn’t in week one, and I think we do now. We understand that when you do that, you can take the No. 4 team in the country to double overtime. You can go down 20 points to a top-10 rival and come all the way back to take the lead with eight minutes left.”
Texas now sits at 3–3 halfway through Herman’s first year. The .500 winning percentage would have been considered a failure a decade ago. However, two straight 5-7 seasons has altered the definition of success in Austin. The Longhorn fans, players and coaches all know this program won’t be back overnight. It’s a process.
“This is a process, this is a journey,” Herman said. “We’re building a program, not a season and not a team and not a game. We need to be mindful of where we’re headed and the journey that we’re on but also be urgent with how we get there so we can win and win now.”