For just the second time since 1998, the Texas Longhorns will not be going to a bowl game this season. A home loss to Texas Tech sealed a winless season for the Longhorns, leaving them at the mercy of a waiting list to get in if they happen to pull a stunner against Baylor in the season finale to go 5-7 and hope there are bowl vacancies to be filled. In other words, don’t count on it. The fate of the Longhorns this season may have been expected for weeks or months, but the final nail in the coffin may be have delivered by a Texas Tech trick play that saw Jakeem Grant sneak down the left sideline and dodge a couple of defenders on his way to a 40-yard touchdown, which would prove to be the game-winning score.
Up 41-38, Texas Tech forced a Texas turnover on downs at the 40-yard line of the Longhorns with 2:51 to play. Despite Texas having a couple of timeouts to spare, Texas Tech appeared to line up in a victory formation. Perhaps inspired by the fumblerooski, Kliff Kingsbury had his offense set in a formation that would make it difficult to tell which player had the football until it was too late. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes dropped back deep and appeared to fake a hand-off on his way. Meanwhile, Grant was running with the ball to the left side of the field and found daylight. In the blink of an eye, Texas Tech expanded its lead to 48-38.
Texas still found a way to make Texas Tech sweat it out though. Daje Johnson returned the ensuing kickoff 42-yards and received an extra 15-yards due to a facemask penalty to the Red Raiders special teams unit. Two plays later, Chris Warren III ran eight yards for a touchdown. On Texas Tech’s final possession of the game, there would be no tricks. After Texas was forced to burn each of its two remaining timeouts, Texas Tech set up in a true victory formation for the final two plays of the game as the clock expired and Texas saw its postseason eligibility expire in sync.
This will mark the second straight losing season in Austin for the Longhorns after Texas lost a bowl game last season to end the season at 6-7. The last time Texas had back-to-back losing seasons was in the old Southwest Conference with David McWilliams as the head coach. Texas had consecutive losing and bowl-less seasons in 1988 and 1989. But at least Texas made an appearance in the AP Top 25 in those disappointing seasons. The Longhorns have now gone two straight seasons without appearing in the top 25 for the first time since 1986 and 1987.
After seeing its conference co-champs left out of the College Football Playoff last season, the Big 12 arranged the schedule to showcase what were to be its biggest contests of the 2015 season toward the back of the schedule this fall. That may end up paying off for Oklahoma, Baylor or Oklahoma State. Next year will be a bit of a different story though, as the Big 12’s 2016 schedule (released today) will spread out some of the expected marquee games. That will include having Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State all in action on what will be championship Saturday in the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC.
The Big 12 conference schedule will open on September 17 with TCU hosting Iowa State and continue the following week with a nice little matchup between Baylor and Oklahoma State in Waco. The Big 12 schedule starts to pick up the pace on October 1 with a full slate of conference games, including Oklahoma visiting TCU and Oklahoma State hosting Texas. The traditional Red River
Shootout Rivalry in Dallas between Oklahoma and Texas is scheduled for October 8.
All Big 12 action will conclude on December 3 with three games, including the annual Bedlam game between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. This year that game will determine the Big 12 champion. Baylor and TCU will meet on November 5, and Baylor will visit Oklahoma the following week.
The Texas Longhorns will once again play on Thanksgiving when they host TCU for what should end up being a Thursday night game in Austin. Baylor and Texas Tech will face off in Arlington the following day, a day after the Dallas Cowboys host their traditional Thanksgiving football feast. Kansas State hosts Kansas and Iowa State will host West Virginia for the only two Big 12 games that Saturday.
Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury may not be too happy with the schedule. Just like this season, the Red Raiders will not be given a bye week during Big 12 play. From October 1 against Kansas through November 26 against Baylor, Texas Tech gets no time off to prepare for a conference opponent. Neither does Kansas or Texas.
The Big 12 uses a nine-game conference schedule, which allows for every school to play every other team in the conference. Of course, there is no Big 12 championship game. You can see the full Big 12 conference schedule here.
Twice Charlie Strong has publicly denied any interest in leaving as the head coach at Texas for the same job at Miami, the last time a little less vehemently than some would’ve liked. That “tepid” response led to the speculation and rumors connecting him to the vacancy with the Hurricanes to ratchet up yet again, even as some Longhorn fans — and possibly some boosters — would like to see Strong and his 10-13 record get on an airplane headed for South Florida.
While some may be anti-Strong, two important men — UT president Gregory Fenves and interim athletic director Mike Perrin — are reportedly very much in the coach’s corner and have thrown their full support behind him. And, in a radio interview Friday morning, Perrin left no gray area as to where his opinion on Strong’s future and on the man himself falls. From the Dallas Morning News:
He’s staying here,” Perrin told Austin’s 104.9 FM the Horn on Friday morning. “I have no doubt about that. No doubt in my mind whatsoever. You can count on it. You can go to the bank with it.”
“Charlie Strong is committed to being the coach at Texas,” Perrin said. “He didn’t work so long and so hard to get here that he would walk away from it. … Building this program is what he’s committed to.
My administration and respect for him has only grown has we’ve had the opportunity to work more closely together in the time I’ve been here in this position,” Perrin said, later adding. “Charlie Strong is a man with the greatest character. … I support him 100 percent.
As Dabo Swinney is wont to say, you don’t ever say never, but it doesn’t seem like Strong is a man who is about to be pushed out of the door and into Miami’s arms. Would he willingly leave for another job after just two seasons in Austin? Seems highly unlikely, but again the “never say never” caveat will remain in play until Strong definitively stays. Or goes. One of the two.
Texas’ 2015 season has, with one significant exception, been a giant middle finger pointed in the general direction of success, so it’s apropos that one of its few bright spots is having a digit issue.
Head coach Charlie Strong has confirmed that D’Onta Foreman will undergo surgery Thursday to repair a broken finger on his right hand. The running back sustained the broken pinkie in the loss to West Virginia this past weekend.
Because of the surgery, Freeman’s availability for the Thanksgiving game against Texas Tech is decidedly unknown.
“We just don’t know the extent of the injury,” Strong said. “We’re not sure if he’ll be able to carry a football, at least not yet.”
Foreman currently leads the Longhorns in rushing with 681 yards and in rushing touchdowns with five.
Exacerbating the situation is the fact that Johnathan Gray suffered a foot injury in the WVU game and is listed as day-to-day for Tech. Gray is currently second among UT running backs with 489 yards.
UT will need to beat Tech and No. 10 Baylor to finish 6-6 and become bowl-eligible.
Charlie Strong met with the media Wednesday evening and disclosed his leading rusher – sophomore D’Onta Foreman – will be out indefinitely with wrist surgery scheduled for Thursday. And nobody cared.
The goings on of a 4-6 team isn’t top of mind when people think Texas football these days. It’s where Strong possibly will or will not coach in 2016.
And to that end, Strong didn’t exactly issue an emphatic denial.
“It’s all a rumor. We’re here to build a program,” Strong said, via the Austin American-Statesman. “I don’t know where it surfaces from. The thing I’ve got to do is just continue to work here and get this done.”
Saying he was as frustrated as anybody by his 10-13 start, Strong displayed a resolve to turn the U.S.S. Longhorn around.
“I have to be successful here, there’s no doubt,” he added. “There’s too many people counting on me to get it done. We have an unbelievable fan base here. I have the unbelievable support of our alums. We’ve got to get it done.”
To that end, Chip Brown wrote for HornsDigest Wednesday Strong has the full support of UT president Gregory Fenves and interim AD Mike Perrin, each newer to his post than Strong is to his. “Two sources close to the situation told HornsDigest.com UT president Greg Fenves and interim athletic director Mike Perrin are unequivocal in their support of Charlie Strong coming back in 2016 – even if Texas loses its final two games against Texas Tech and Baylor – because they believe in Strong and feel he didn’t receive the support he needed during his first 20 months at Texas,” Brown wrote.
But while Fenves and Perrin may have indicated through back channels they want Strong back in 2016, Strong himself never said Wednesday, unequivocally, he’ll be back next season. And until then, the rumors will persist.