Jordan Hicks was a freshman when Texas went 5-7 in 2010, just one year after the team had appeared in a national championship game.
This season, the fifth-year senior — whose career has been a roller coaster of flashes of potential and disappointing injuries — has been in tow for a similarly turbulent season that saw Texas lose four starters for disciplinary reasons and its starting quarterback to retirement in its first under head coach Charlie Strong.
Yet after the Longhorns regular season-ending loss to TCU, a 48-10 whipping that even Strong said he didn’t see coming, Hicks was clear in his assessment of how the season ought to be viewed.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys coming back off of this year and they have to know this isn’t acceptable,” Hicks said. “Six-and-6 is not acceptable at the University of Texas — never has been, never will be and they have to understand.”
Despite the dismissals and injuries, the adjustment period for a new staff and everything else Texas has had to overcome this season, Hicks is right — 6-6 is unacceptable at Texas.
The Longhorns can salvage a winning record with a bowl victory, but that likely won’t make this season — even with its reasons for optimism — feel any better.
Texas was second in the conference in total defense this season and led the conference in pass defense.
But you have to score points to win games, especially in the Big 12, and the Longhorns were second-to-last in the conference in scoring offense.
The offense was surprisingly competent in wins against Iowa State, Texas Tech, West Virginia and Oklahoma State but was frustratingly incompetent in losses to BYU, Baylor, Kansas State and TCU.
The flashes that Texas showed on both sides of the ball will be remembered fondly if the program continues to take steps toward sustained success that it once enjoyed under former head coach Mack Brown.
But they won’t be if they are repeated next season with the same number of wins to show for it.
The Longhorns still have serious questions to answer under center, as quarterback Tyrone Swoopes was wildly inconsistent after taking over for David Ash in the second game of the season.
The same goes for the offensive line, which underperformed after being ravaged by dismissals and injuries early in the season.
None of that is reason to panic — after all, it is the first year of the Strong regime, and many concerns that have plagued the team since that 2010 season were alleviated this season.
But that doesn’t mean the turnaround is complete.
Because, as Hicks said, 6-6 is not acceptable at Texas.
And it is crucial for Strong and the Longhorns to build on that going forward.