It is time to turn the Hook ‘Em sign upside down. It is time to call Fight Off.
There was a time not long ago when the University of Texas and the University of Southern California were the gold standards in college football. The Trojans and Longhorns contested in what was by far the best championship game of the BCS era following the 2005 season.
The quarterbacks that night, Vince Young and Matt Leinart, have fallen hard since. Their football programs are not far behind, now both nowhere near the Top 25.
The follies of Texas and USC football were on full display Saturday night. The Longhorns achieved a school record for rushing yards allowed in a loss at BYU while Tommy Trojan absorbed an even more embarrassing home defeat at the hands of lowly Washington State.
In UT history, the Longhorns visited Brigham Young University once before, one day short of 25 years to the day. That night proved as a low-water mark in school history, the Horns were blown out 47-6 and would finish 4-7 for the 1988 season.
To avoid a repeat, the school invested in bizarre altitude-simulation masks, either in preparation for the BYU game or Armageddon. Maybe Mack Brown should have instead simulated two-hour weather delays and teach his defense tackling fundamentals.
After the storm, BYU’s running backs rained on the Horns. The final numbers were beyond alarming. The Cougars set a school record with 550 rushing yards while Texas earned the single-game school record for rushing yards allowed by the end of the third quarter.
BYU quarterback Taysom Hill rushed for 259 yards himself, trailing only Vince Young’s 267 for QB single-game rushing yards for a quarterback in the past 10 years. Hill is a decent running quarterback but he’s not to be confused with Devin Gardner, Robert Griffin III or Michael Vick in their college days. Hill runs about a 4.7 40-yard dash and is fresh off a serious knee injury. Maybe my living room analysis is wrong, but Hill is not eye-popping fast. And running back Jamaal Williams also went off for 180 yards, how many BYU alums have you seen become NFL backs over the years?
Texas’s defense looked Conference USA bad, maybe even FCS bad, which would even insult most FCS programs. Is the unit that bad, or just not motivated? On either account, this is on the head coach.
Meanwhile, Lane Kiffin has developed a legacy of wrecking programs in breathtaking amounts of time. It took only one season to accelerate the free-fall of the once proud University of Tennessee program. The saving grace for Vol Nation was Kiffin leaving for Southern Cal under cover of the night.
At USC, the state of the program has also gotten very ugly, very fast. Five short years ago, Tommy Trojan won in Pullman 69-0, and the final score was far closer than the disparity of the programs that night.
Late Saturday Night at the Coliseum, fans and alums started the “Fire Kiffin” chant even before a late Washington State field goal resulted in the 10-7 Trojans loss. The Trojans managed a total of 193 yards total offense, picking off where they left off last year, when the offense was completely anemic late in the season.
Yes, Mike Leach schooled Penny Lane. Who would have thought five years ago during his Texas Tech Air Raid heyday that he would be in the Pac-12 out-slugging Southern Cal? Meanwhile Craig James is now out of broadcasting, vindication is sweet. I’m sure Kiffin will work just fine in an ESPN studio in 2014. Meanwhile the Trojans have returned to the “SCCC” (So Cal Community College) status of the late 1990s.
There is no excuse when it comes to football with either program. By accident elite talent should be falling into the lap of both schools. Southern California and the state of Texas are perennially fertile areas for prep recruits.
The problems in Austin have extended beyond football into the entire athletic program. Rick Barnes is in equally bad shape with men’s basketball, which finished last year 16-18 and saw three players transfer. Texas has a legendary baseball program, but did not make the NCAA Tournament in the last two years.
At a university with massive enrollment and alumni, is given its own television channel by ESPN, and brings in more revenue than anyone in college football, this is unacceptable for a coach under contract through 2020. With 19 of 22 starters returning, the bar was set far higher than going 22-16 the last three years. On Sunday, defensive coordinator Manny Diaz was fired and replaced by former Longhorns DC and Syracuse coach Greg Robinson. Robinson was last seen overseeing a porous defense at Michigan in 2009-10.
Unfortunately for Texas and USC, they really cannot make drastic moves in September. For both programs the worst is yet to come with 10 regular season games left. What will Oklahoma’s rushing game do to Texas? What happens to USC against teams like Notre Dame and Stanford?
Saturday’s contests were just the latest eye-openers.