Commentary

Letter to Muschamp

Texas' defense isn't the same since former defensive coordinator's exit

Updated: October 21, 2012, 1:50 AM ET
By Carter Strickland | HornsNation

AUSTIN, Texas -- Dear Will Muschamp:

This letter comes much too late. Well, at least three weeks too late. (Or years. The point is not to quibble. Not in desperate times.) But everyone was busy counting up the opponents' yards and points. That takes much more time than it did when you were here. Suffice it to say, IBM's Big Blue was involved in the final tabulations. Yep, it's that bad.

Not so bad that Texas, ranked 25th in the BCS in case you didn't look down that low, lost to Baylor. Aw shucks, the Bears did have 607 yards, but talent eked out, 56-50. You remember Baylor, right? The little Baptist school up the road. Lost to them in your last year. Might have been the loss that let you know the end was near and the exit had to be found.

[+] EnlargeJoe Bergeron
AP Photo/Michael ThomasTexas' offense wasn't the issue against Baylor, but the Longhorns' porous defense was.
Well, it has only gotten worse since you hit that door. Now there you are over at Florida. Undefeated. The No. 2 team in the BCS. Holding the Ol' Ball Coach to 11 points. Who knew? Apparently, Florida athletics director Jeremy Foley. He had foresight. He had vision. He had a real title waiting for you.

Here at the 40 Acres, all you were doing was waiting with a title that had "waiting" in it. Take this then as an apology letter. A mea culpa from Mack & Co.

Just so you know there are no hard feelings about your departure. But the thing is, you went boom. And Texas went bust.

Oh sure, it was OK for a year. Your players, with their base of fundamentals, were still in the program. You know the guys, the ones who could tackle. Yeah, those were the days back when Texas had a chance to stop someone with something other than the end zone.

Now? Well, you may not have seen it because you were devising defensive schemes that work. But Oklahoma, the team your defenses held to 76 points in three games, scored 63 a couple of weeks back against the Texas defense. Big Tex burned down just a couple of days later. No lie. Electrical short in his arm. Apparently, he was tired of signaling touchdown OU.

But there was some hellfire and brimstone around here, too. Remember Kenny Vaccaro? The special-teams standout when you left? He called out the players. Said they weren't tough. Said the lack of tackling was a cancer. Alex Okafor tore into them, too. Even told the press about players taking plays off and how there was no faith that they could stop the run.

Baylor had 202 rushing yards in the first three quarters, just shy of seven yards per carry.

By the way, how many yards did Marcus Lattimore have? Thirteen right? Sure he was hurt, but saw where South Carolina only rushed for 36 as a team, if those ESPN stats are right. Have to say that is impressive. Really impressive.

Now don't laugh, and try not to crack a sinister grin, but the defense here has given up 1,065 rushing yards in the last four games. Two of those games were against passing teams. Hard to swallow that with the memory still fresh of your 2009 defense that gave up 1,013 rushing yards all year. That was 14 games. National title game included.

The lunacy of it all, the thing that turns everyone's stomachs and heads around here, is that the offense -- the side of the ball that was inept that last year you were here -- it's decent now. No really. There is this young quarterback, David Ash, really coming into his own. The co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin faintly realized he has a playmaker in Daje Johnson and a difference-maker with running back Johnathan Gray. Maybe if he works Shipley, the younger one, Jaxon, into the game a bit, people might actually crawl off his back.

So, amazingly, that's not the issue. It's your side of the ball. Sorry, what used to be your side of the ball. Old habits die hard. Tradition, well, that's dying much more quickly here. Hard to even talk about what is happening to the legacy that had been built. The one you had a hand in for those three years.

It's crumbling, Coach Boom. Maybe not the foundation. The big-money supporters are still there. DeLoss Dodds and Bill Powers said two years ago the money and support would still be there, and so far it has been.

But with the fans -- sure, they can be bandwagon -- the grumbling has begun. They see it. They know. Even in 2010 when things were bad, they saw the defense was still hanging in there.

So it's getting harder and harder to say with any conviction that this young team is aimed for a national title. Maybe these players are. Again, the offense is growing. The defense has next-level talent in Vaccaro, Okafor, Quandre Diggs, maybe even Brandon Moore, Chris Whaley and Carrington Byndom. But the staff? It's just not working.

This team isn't built to outscore team after team. Not the really good teams. The ones like Kansas State or Texas Tech or TCU. Baylor was 120 in overall defense; teams like that Texas can handle. Fundamentally sound teams? Teams like you have to play against the SEC? Teams like Texas was supposed to be when it hired a defensive coordinator from the SEC?

What are those teams going to do to a defense that gave up a school-record 197 points in the past four games?

Sure, sure these aren't your problems. Might not have been had you still been here, either. But that's water under the bridge or maybe, heh, heh, dirt on the grave. Whatever.

Then this is a letter of perhaps, apology. Your talent and acumen was underestimated and underappreciated. Now it's needed more than ever. Egos got in the way. Coaching legacies did, too. It's hard to walk away. Not from the money. From the fame. But there are always missteps and steps not taken in life.

Now because of that, the school where you used to be the coach in waiting, has stepped in it.

Your former boss, Mack Brown

Carter Strickland | email

Reporter, HornsNation