Misery Index: Trouble in Texas as Tom Herman begins second season with another flop

For most of the great coaching tenures, Year 2 is when the magic happens.

Nick Saban jumped from eight wins to 10 at LSU in his second year, then from six to 12 at Alabama. Urban Meyer’s Year 2 records were 9-3 (Bowling Green), 12-0 (Utah) and 13-1 (Florida). Bob Stoops won the national title in his second season at Oklahoma, Steve Spurrier went 10-2 at Florida and Pete Carroll went 11-2 at Southern California.

No matter what the roster looked like when those coaches arrived, Year 2 was when the culture took hold, the misfits were weeded out and the ultimate destination came into focus. It’s happened over and over again for a reason: For all the talk about patience, the great coaches typically only need two years to start showing greatness.

That’s a big reason why Tom Herman is going to be under the microscope in a big way at Texas this season, and why the fans’ reaction to a season-opening 34-29 flop at Maryland was so intense.

It may not be time to panic quite yet, but that moment isn’t too far over the horizon.


  • TEXAS: This latest ugly Longhorns loss should not come as a surprise
  • ALABAMA: It's time for Saban to be honest about his quarterbacks
  • MICHIGAN: Wolverines haven't improved and Harbaugh is to blame
  • WASHINGTON: Unfair to judge Huskies off tough loss in SEC country

When he was hired after the 2016 season, Herman was the hottest coaching prospect in America, having knocked off six ranked teams in two seasons at Houston, including Florida State and Oklahoma. After firing Charlie Strong just three years into his tenure, Texas dramatically pulled Herman away from LSU at the last minute, a move that united a dream candidate with his dream job.  

But it’s unclear whether Texas is in a better place right now than it was five years ago when Mack Brown was on his final march toward the television booth. Brown, after all, won eight, nine and eight games during his final three turbulent years and actually had a chance to win the Big 12 going into the regular season finale in 2013. Since then, Texas’ win totals are six, five, five and seven, and the pressure to return the Longhorns to something resembling national relevance is growing more desperate with each passing year.

Not only is Herman losing to Maryland for the second year in a row a horrible look and something that should never happen, but it really does call into question whether progress is being made or if Texas is stuck in the land of the mediocre for another season and missing out on the historically significant Year 2 bump.

For that reason, Texas leads the first Misery Index of 2018, a weekly measurement of knee-jerk reactions based on what each fan base just watched.  

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