AUSTIN – Whether it’s the Red River Showdown or the Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship, whether it’s Dallas or Arlington, Texas and Oklahoma rub each other the wrong way.
Texas decided to get outside eyes to help prepare for the conference title game against Oklahoma and Sooners coach Lincoln Riley was not amused.
Riley took exception ahead of Saturday’s game at AT&T Stadium. Texas coach Herman had reached out to recently fired Kansas coach David Beaty, a longtime friend, to provide another set of eyes this week.
Red River Showdown v. 2.0 tensions soon surfaced although nothing to match the spying allegations of the 70s.
“Coach Beaty can do what he wants to do,” Riley said at his Monday press conference. “I don’t like the precedent of it, of being able to bring in somebody from the league in the same year. I don’t think it’s good for the conference. It’s not against the rules, and if they want to do it, that’s fine.”
Herman seemed shocked, shocked that anyone would see anything wrong.
“I don’t know why that’s news,” Herman said.
He added that coaches routinely call contacts at schools after games to find details of the scouting report. Texas did it against Notre Dame, Herman said. Texas spoke to Beaty and former KU assistants Clint Bowen and Kenny Perry about what they saw. Kansas had played Oklahoma on Nov. 17, the week before playing Texas.
“It’s very common,” Herman said, who worked with Beaty at Rice in 2007 and considers him a friend. “It just so happened that we were playing this week and they weren’t.”
Beaty might have played a larger role, had not a Midwest snowstorm intervened. He was scheduled to fly to Austin to help the Longhorns staff in person.
Yes, the kerfuffle was a good thing for the Longhorns.
It’s late November and people are talking about the Texas season that is, not the Texas season that was. If you’re looking for signs of progress under Herman, this qualifies as bright Vegas-style neon.
Monday marked the anniversary of Texas hiring Herman in 2016, a few scant hours after showing Charlie Strong the door after three straight losing seasons.
Herman finished his first season 7-6, with a Texas Bowl win over Missouri to go .500.
At times, he and the stuff clashed with the upperclassmen on the team. At times, All-American punter Mike Dickson – the bowl game MVP – was the best player on the team. As many things went wrong as right from the offensive line to the running game.
Things changed this season, with a six-game winning streak and a 9-3 record that has Texas ahead of schedule, according to Herman.
“It’s been a long two years,” Herman said with emphasis. “I think, again, the progress that has been made throughout our program, and not just on the field on Saturdays, our program, and what’s in our DNA is different.
“It’s really fun to see now, some of these leaders and some of these players maturing and evolving.”
Players noted that the team and coaching staff came together in bowl practices last year. Herman saw more evidence after the opening loss to Maryland.
“Then after we lost the first game, in previous years there would have been a lot of rats scurrying, ‘OK, same ‘ole, same ‘ole, whatever,’” Herman said, “and this team really came together.”
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