Die-hard Texas Longhorns fans may take their AP ranking as a slap in the face. But it's time for a wake-up call in Austin.
Despite returning an NCAA-best 19 starters—including the most experienced quarterback in the Big 12 from a nine-win team—the Associated Press voters have Texas at No. 15 in the country in their preseason poll.
Usually one of the traditional powerhouses in college football, a low ranking for Texas shows that both coaches and the media have completely lost confidence in head coach Mack Brown to get the most out of his players.
And rightfully so.
Last year, the Longhorns started the season ranked No. 15 in both the USA Today coaches poll and AP poll—just like this year—but were then ranked No. 23 in the AP Poll and unranked in the Coaches Poll going into the bowl season. The previous year, in 2011, the Longhorns barely made the Top 25 in the preseason coaches poll, and finished unranked in both polls.
After three consecutive disappointing seasons, Brown isn't getting the benefit of the doubt from the voters that he's used to anymore.
There is one voter who has the Longhorns ranked high this year, and that's Phil Steele: He picked Texas fourth nationally in his preseason poll and has it as a "darkhorse national title contender" for the upcoming season.
But he also says that Mack Brown is on the hot seat more so than any other coach in college football. This doesn't bode well for Brown, as every coach who has taken that No. 1 spot on Steele's hot-seat list has been fired for the past five years.
Since winning the Big 12 in 2009 and appearing in the BCS national championship game, the Longhorns have had three disappointing seasons with just five (2010), eight (2011) and nine (2012) wins. While some fans relish the opportunity for their teams to win eight or nine games, people in Austin, Texas, are different.
They expect greatness. And with a traditionally impressive recruiting class, they should get it. But the Longhorns haven't been in serious contention for a Big 12 title since the Colt McCoy era.
While they did finish third in the Big 12 last season, the Longhorns got stomped by co-champions Kansas State and Oklahoma by 18 and 42 points, respectively. They haven't beaten either of those teams since 2009.
It's a "what have you done for me lately" world in college football, and Mack Brown hasn't done enough to earn the respect of voters this season. That's why the Longhorns are only getting a No. 15 ranking despite 19 returning starters from a nine-win team.