ESPN FPI is meant to be a predictive metric of future success. Why does it love Texas football so much then? Is it right, wrong, or somewhere in between?
As has been the case for too many offseasons to count, someone must decree it from somewhere: Texas football is back. The Longhorns have been on the cusp of returning ever since they stumbled into the wilderness of the Charlie Strong and Tom Herman days, but they’ve never quite gotten “back”, whatever that means.
That’s why the recent chorus of platitudes that has risen from ESPN’s FPI has, for many, fallen on deaf ears. Why would (should) anyone believe a computer prognosticating Longhorn success when the humans in charge of bringing that vision to life have fallen time and time again?
Well, on paper, it might have a point. The Big 12 isn’t expected to be very good this year. Oklahoma is in the midst of some sort of rebuild and TCU probably isn’t going to pull a TCU for the second straight year in a row. This should be Texas’ conference to win, and if they do that, wouldn’t a College Football Playoff invitation be the next thing?
Quinn Ewers is expected to take another step. They have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, quite possibly boasting the best defensive unit in the Big 12. Why not?
Following the 2023 season, Texas is expected to move to the SEC. If they can’t hack it this year and rise to the occasion, expectations for the foreseeable future might never get this high again. So it’s very possible FPI has this right. It could very well be the Longhorn’s year.
But that optimism comes with caution. If Texas doesn’t capitalize now, will they ever get over the hump again?