Land surface models (LSMs) play a critical role in the simulation of climate, for they determine the character of a large fraction of the atmosphere's lower boundary. The LSM partitions the net radiative energy at the land surface into sensible heat, latent heat, and energy storage, and it partitions incident precipitation water into evaporation, runoff, and water storage. Numerous modeling experiments and the existing (though very scant) observational evidence suggest that variations in these partitionings can feed back on the atmospheric processes that induce them. This land-atmosphere feedback can in turn have a significant impact on the generation of continental precipitation. For this and other reasons (including the role of the land surface in converting various atmospheric quantities, such as precipitation, into quantities of perhaps higher societal relevance, such as runoff), many modeling groups are placing a high emphasis on improving the treatment of land surface processes in their models. LSMs have evolved substantially from the original bucket model of Manabe et al. This evolution, which is still ongoing, has been documented considerably. The present paper also takes a look at the evolution of LSMs. The perspective here, though, is different - the evolution is considered strictly in terms of the 'balance' between the formulations of evaporation and runoff processes. The paper will argue that a proper balance is currently missing, largely due to difficulties in treating subgrid variability in soil moisture and its impact on the generation of runoff.