At 5-1, No. 9 Texas going all in on Tom Herman
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By JIM VERTUNO
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Game by game, win by win, Texas is going all in on Tom Herman.
Just check his phone. In the 24 hours after his Longhorns beat Oklahoma 48-45 to rise to No. 9 in the Top 25 rankings , his phone lit up with nearly 200 text messages of congratulations.
Herman remembers how many he got after a season-opening loss to Maryland.
"Nine," Herman said Monday. "I got nine."
Everyone loves a winner and Herman has the Longhorns winning at a rate most think they should. And now, a decade removed from its last Big 12 crown and the last time it played for a national championship, Texas (5-1, 3-0) is back on top of the league standings and cast as a favorite to get to the conference championship game.
Do that and there could be national playoff talk in the future.
Herman sought to tap the brakes on that Monday. A five-game win streak earns back respect at a program in need of some, but that's about it at this point.
"There is no midseason conference championship trophy," Herman said. "There is a lot of season left. A lot."
It starts this week against rapidly improving Baylor (4-2, 2-1). Then comes a week off and a road trip to Oklahoma State before Texas hosts No. 6 West Virginia, the only undefeated team in the Big 12.
Herman surveyed his locker room when the team returned Sunday after the big win over Oklahoma. He came away confident the Longhorns are ready to put that game behind them. His players are hungry for wins. Most of his team slogged through a pair of five-win seasons before Herman arrived in 2017. And last year was a 7-6 struggle.
This group won't get arrogant and assume they'll win just by showing up to play, Herman said.
"Have you seen the last four years?" Herman said.
Texas fans certainly remember. They remember big wins over Oklahoma in 2015 and Notre Dame in 2016 when then-coach Charlie Strong crowd surfed in postgame celebrations. They also remember seasons that soon collapsed.
Texas has already equaled the wins of Strong's last two seasons. Herman got a Gatorade bath from his players after beating Oklahoma but kept his feet on the ground.
"I said to them when we lost the opener, this game will not define us. How we respond to it will," Herman said. "I told them that about this Oklahoma game. That game will not define us. How we respond to it will."
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Updated October 8, 2018