Get the Athlon Sports Newsletter
Darrell Royal, Mack Brown lead dominant eras
Texas is something of football royalty and the fans know it. Just ask the Longhorns. Or better yet, ask fans of Texas A&M.
Being the top historical football program in the top football state certainly has its perks, starting with your own television network (if even no one’s able to watch it).
Tease Texas at your own risk. With the Longhorns’ resources, tradition and access to the deep pool of Lone Star State high school talent, the Longhorns can dominate the college football landscape for decades at a time.
In our series of the greatest time to be a fan of a school, rarely have our snapshots covered so much ground. Darrell Royal owned most of the ‘60s thanks to a pair of linebackers at first and the wishbone offense later. Then came Mack Brown in the 2000s to revive the Longhorns from their ‘80s-’90s malaise.
Here are the best and worst times to flash the Hook ‘em Horns.
BEST TIMES TO BE A TEXAS FAN
National championships: 3
Coach: Darrell Royal
Notable players: Tommy Nobis, Scott Appleton, Jimmy Saxton, Johnny Treadwell, Jerry Sisemore, Bob McKay, Bobby Wuensch, Bill Atessis, Bill Wyman, Roosevelt Leaks, James Street.
This was the era that made Darrell Royal a legend. He and offensive coordinator Emory Bellard would change the offensive game, but the early part of his reign was marked my defense. The 1963 national championship team featured Outland winner Scott Appleton. A year later, one of the greatest players in Texas history, Tommy Nobis, stuffed Joe Namath to beat Alabama in the Orange Bowl to cap a 10-1 season. Nobis won the Outland in 1965. Royal and his staff became offensive innovators by 1968 by unveiling the wishbone offense. After going 0-1-1 in their first two games in the new offense, Texas reeled off 30 consecutive wins from ‘68-’70. In a thrilling Cotton Bowl, James Street led Texas to a 21-17 win over Notre Dame to win Royal’s third national title in 1969. Texas won seven outright Southwest Conference titles from 1961-73 and shared two others with Arkansas.
National championships: 1
Coach: Mack Brown
Notable players: Vince Young, Colt McCoy, Derrick Johnson, Justin Blalock, Quentin Jammer, Derrick Dockery, Rodrique Wright, Jonathan Scott, Michael Huff, Brian Orakpo, Jordan Shipley, Earl Thomas, Jamaal Charles, Cedric Benson, Aaron Ross
Texas was one of the dominant programs of the decade, even if Longhorns fans were left wanting more. Texas was one of two teams to win more than 100 games during this span (Boise State was the other) as the Longhorns won 10 or more games in nine consecutive seasons. The 2005 team was the high point as Vince Young capped perhaps the finest quarterback career of the BCS era with a performance for ages to defeat No. 1 USC for his second Rose Bowl MVP. Texas also played for a title in 2009 but was never seriously able to compete with Alabama in the BCS Championship Game when Colt McCoy was knocked out with a game-ending injury in the first quarter. This was a successful era that would be the envy of any program, save perhaps, Texas. A bid for a third national title game was dashed by a Michael Crabtree catch for Texas’ only loss in 2008. The Longhorns won the Big 12 only twice, aided by a 4-5 record against Oklahoma. And even though Texas claimed a Doak Walker Award (Benson) and two Jim Thorpe awards (Huff and Ross), the Longhorns never brought home a Heisman.
WORST TIMES TO BE A TEXAS FAN
Coaches: Fred Akers, David McWilliams, John Mackovic
The demise of the Southwest Conference wasn’t kind to many teams in that league. Texas was no exception. The Longhorns endured three losing seasons in five years under the hapless David McWilliams. Hopes were high for John Mackovic, but he was not a great fit. A 66-3 loss to UCLA in 1997 all but sealed his fate.
Coaches: Jack Chevigny, Dana Bible
Remember when it was unthinkable for Texas to go 5-7? The Longhorns went through a three-year period in the ‘30s where they won a grand total of five games from 1936-38. The streak of four consecutive losing seasons remains the longest in school history.