There is no better motivation for a veteran college football player to pursue excellence than the lure of a job in the NFL.
But at Texas, one of the game's most storied programs, just the opposite is reportedly happening. UT's upperclassmen aren't playing with the necessary fire because they're aware their prospects for the NFL draft are all but nil, according to Sports Illustrated.
"None of the older guys are going to the NFL, so you can tell most of them really don't care," one coach told SI.
Veteran defensive back Dylan Haines indicated much the opposite earlier this week, suggesting that the younger players on the team haven't been willing to put forth a winning effort. A couple of younger players lashed out on social media following Haines' remarks, so the rift is real. And so is the fact that the Longhorns (1-4) remain one of the most disappointing teams in college football.
More than a motivational issue, Texas simply doesn't have the talent it once did, and recent NFL drafts indicate the dip. Malcom Brown was a first-round pick as a defensive lineman this year, going to the New England Patriots at No. 32 overall. He and Kenny Vaccaro are the only first-round picks the program has produced since 2011, however, and if the Longhorns are shut out of the 2016 draft, it will be the second time in three years.
This is Texas, remember? This is Earl Campbell, Ricky Williams and Vince Young.
Or, was, anyway.
The annual Red River Showdown against Oklahoma will be played in Dallas on Saturday, and the Sooners are expected to win what is traditionally a competitive rivalry with ease. And if the Longhorns' older players have truly mailed it in because playing in the NFL is the only reason to wear burnt orange, that's exactly what will happen.