The Kansas State game ended like so many others have under Texas coach Charlie Strong: frustrating, mistake-riddled and with the Longhorns on the wrong end of the scoreboard. Though Texas had one last gasp for life with a late touchdown, the 24-21 loss felt like it was over long before the final whistle was blown.
In a way, it also signaled the end of Strong's tenure at Texas.
Texas might not fire Strong on Sunday. It may not fire him next week or the week after. But Saturday's loss all but officially sealed his fate in Austin.
There are five games left on the schedule, and Texas needs to win three to be bowl eligible. Frankly, Strong needs to win all five -- including games against No. 9 Baylor and No. 12 West Virginia -- to keep his job.
The odds of that happening are grim. Just read these comments -- or the lack thereof -- from Texas athletic director Mike Perrin after the game.
My colleagues tell me Perrin actually said, "No talking." Just trying to be accurate here.— Mike Finger (@mikefinger) October 22, 2016
Recall it was Perrin who, earlier this month, said that "everything" needed to be evaluated about the program. In the immediate aftermath of that comment, Strong demoted defensive coordinator Vance Bedford and took over defensive play-calling duties himself.
Well, if Perrin needs more tape to evaluate, the 60 minutes against the Wildcats should do the trick. Texas was undisciplined (again), couldn't stop the run (again), couldn't tackle (again), had special teams issues (again), made too mistakes -- like fumbling snaps and committing penalties -- and couldn't capitalize on Kansas State's miscues (again).
For much of the game, K-State forced Texas to play its style of football: slow and grinding with the type of painful squeeze that leaves you feeling helpless about your inevitable fate.
It'd be one thing if Texas had a bad day in an otherwise encouraging season, but these things have been problematic for some time now. Quite literally, the Longhorns have been the same team to start each of the last three seasons.
3rd consecutive season UT football has started the season 3-4.— Shawn Clynch (@ShawnC_KVUE) October 22, 2016
Strong is a good coach. He rebuilt Louisville and helped morph it into the program it is today. But he just hasn't made the same strides at Texas -- at least not as quickly as Texas would like. Sure, there are some areas where Strong has succeeded. He's done well in recruiting and players like running back D'Onta Foreman give this team a chance to win. He has indeed put his personal stamp on cleaning up the program.
But overall player development hasn't been Strong's best area. Guys are making the same mistakes in Week 8 as they were making in Week 3 -- and those are the same mistakes they made last year. Texas is young, yes, but there's only so much cushion that provides. Either the coaching staff isn't getting guys ready during the week or players aren't learning. Regardless, that reflects back on Strong. The players that love him so dearly -- and they really do -- aren't playing well enough for him to keep his job.
Good Lord, it's impossible to defend Texas anymore. Impossible.— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) October 22, 2016
When they absolutely have to have it at winning time on the road, the Horns don't deliver. It's Charlie's biggest failing.— Cedric Golden (@CedGolden) October 22, 2016
Play-calling hasn't been much better. Strong has already demoted multiple coordinators during his time at Texas, but even on Saturday, the Horns were calling runs late in the game without timeouts and down on the scoreboard. It took nearly three quarters for Texas to convert a third down. There some things you just can't do, and Strong was doing them.
Texas hasn't shown it can get better under Strong, and it's unlikely the next five games are going to prove otherwise. While Strong didn't inherit a great situation and wasn't offered full support by prominent boosters, he's had enough time to at least show the program is headed in the right direction.
It's hard to say that's happening.