AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas’ long spring and summer of discontent has arrived.
Or should it be malcontent? After all, there has been quite a sampling of police blotter activity as of late. Oh wait, those transgressions occurred while the Longhorn players had a modicum of adult (read: coach) supervision. Soon they will have none. When the spring semester ends the Texas players will be set free to roam the world on their own. And, while they are at it, become better football players.
It’s the last part of that two-part equation that is very nearly impossible because in order to become better, typically coaching has to be involved. And in the summer, per NCAA rules, no coaching, except that given by the strength staff, is allowed.
Being a coach, naturally, Mack Brown would like to change that.
"We’re trying to work with the NCAA to see if there could be some type of contact, because we all feel like we need more," Brown said.
The NCAA recently changed the summer rules as they pertain to basketball, allowing for up to eight hours per week -- a limit of two per day -- of varying types of coaching. Brown is angling for that type of flexibility in the summer rules for football. He might get it, but not soon enough for this year. And Brown and Texas need it this year.
"You’d hate to have those three young quarterbacks know [co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach] Major [Applewhite] is in the office, and they can’t walk in and ask him to watch film with them," Brown said. "That’s just not right. They’re trying to get better and they want to come in."
So, in place of being able to coach the player over the summer, Texas is working furiously to evaluate each player, his short-term and long-term needs and disseminate that information to the players prior to the NCAA's summer rules slamming down the no-contact iron curtain.
"Each coach will sit down with every player individually and talk to him and tell him exactly where he stands," Brown said. "So he will understand.
"We’ll tell [the player] you’re a starter, a guy that will play some snaps or a guy that’s lost your spot and a freshman or a junior college player will take your spot, and you’ll have to earn it back in two-a-days,’" he added. "So we’ll have some very hard conversations with the guys over the next month."
Texas does this so that players have an opportunity to change their future if they are so inclined. And that future might include a change of scenery. Brown, who himself transferred as a college player, does not begrudge any athlete the opportunity to move to another program where he thinks he might have a better fit.
Being as blunt as possible in the assessments that are currently taking place benefits the player, because he knows exactly where he stands, as well as the program. That’s because rather than wondering if a player wants to leave and having to wait until August or later to find out, Texas is able to pinpoint more exactly who is considering transferring and how that will affect the scholarship numbers as recruiting moves through the summer and fall. Last April, three players -- Darius Terrell, Eryon Barnnet and A.J. White -- announced they would transfer after sitting down with coaches.
There are likely to be several moves with the current Texas program. It’s almost implausible to believe five quarterbacks will be on the roster come August. Texas has not had five scholarship quarterbacks on its roster to start a season in a decade.
There also could be some changes in the backup positions along the offensive line. Texas signed five offensive linemen in the 2013 class. That brings the total number of offensive linemen on scholarship to 19, which means 22 percent of Texas’ scholarships are dedicated to one position.
Typically, 15 to 17 offensive linemen is enough in a healthy program. And in Texas’ case, two of the incoming five, Desmond Harrison and Darius James, appear to be on track for immediate playing time. So Texas, if it remains at the same number of scholarship athletes along the line, would have 16 players from which to choose when it lines up Aug. 31 against New Mexico State. Again that number seems rather weighted.
So it’s likely some of those "very hard conversations" are being had with offensive linemen as well as possibly a backup quarterback. And Texas has to have those conversations before the long and silent summer begins.