Top-rated high school quarterback Arch Manning’s verbal commitment to the University of Texas on Thursday added another emphatic data point to what has been an epic sports year for the Longhorns.
It’s been the kind of year you fear if you’re trying to compete with a program that – when not affected by a pandemic – has made a routine of generating and spending extraordinary amounts of money while fielding a slightly above-average number of teams.
Texas won four NCAA team championships this year, taking the titles in men’s indoor track and field and three spring sports: women’s tennis, rowing and men’s golf. The Longhorns also had six second-place finishes, according to a recent athletics department news release. That’s top-two results by half of Texas’ teams.
Altogether, 17 Longhorns squads finished among the nation’s top 20, including 14 in the top 10 and 12 in the top five.
Baseball, softball, women’s volleyball, men’s basketball, women’s basketball – seemingly everything except football, which had a 5-7 record in Steve Sarkisian’s first season as head coach, including a loss in Austin to a Kansas team that wound up with a 2- 10 record.
Can one player who won’t be arriving on campus until next year change all that? Who knows? But with a lot to brag about already this year, Texas got even more puffed up Thursday.
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Not long after Manning announced his decision, the Texas athletics Twitter account interrupted a sequence of Tweets celebrating the 50th anniversary of Title IX with one that read: “It’s a whole lotta fun being a Texas Longhorn y’all.”
During the afternoon, University President Jay Hartzell got in on it.
Around midday, he had earnedestly tweeted: “As a longtime magnet for talent, UT brings exceptional people to Austin, and we’re seeing that same story at @DellMedSchool. These outstanding people offer a level of care to Central Texas that one expects from a world-class academic medical center”
A couple of hours later, he re-Tweeted himself, adding, “As it turns out, I could’ve stopped today’s tweet at, ‘As a longtime magnet for talent, UT brings exceptional people to Austin.’ #AGNB” – the hashtag a reference to the “All Gas, No Breaks” catchphrase that Sarkisian has been using since his arrival.
Texas’ athletics success this year allowed it to clinch its second consecutive Division I Learfield Directors’ Cup, honoring all-around sports achievement, before the baseball championship was settled. The Longhorns have displaced Stanford, which had won the Directors’ Cup 25 years in a row.
The Cardinal remained second heading into the baseball College World Series, with Michigan and Ohio State next.
The Directors’ Cup scoring system, which is based on performance in 19 sports, tends to favor schools with more teams. Stanford has 36 teams, Ohio State 35 and Michigan 29.
Texas has outdistanced them while fielding 20 – one more than the average for a Division I school, according to data compiled by the NCAA for the 2020-21 school year.
But Texas averaged $219 million in operating revenue and $206 million in expense in 2016-17, ’17-18 and ’18-19, according to NCAA financial reports compiled by USA TODAY Sports in partnership with the Knight-Newhouse Data project at Syracuse University .
Ohio State averaged $200 million in revenue and $199 million in expense over those years, Michigan $193 million in revenue and $183 million in expense.
Returning to sustained success in football as it gets ready to move from the Big 12 Conference to the Southeastern could make Texas even tougher to catch. And while that may not happen for a while, even with Manning verbally in the fold, the Longhorns already have sports momentum going for the 2022-23 school year.
On Thursday morning, the Big 12 announced the results of its preseason volleyball coaches’ poll. At No. 1, with all but one of the first-place votes: Texas.