Urban Meyer’s name came up during Tom Herman’s Monday media availability.
Meyer is a Hall of Fame coach who will be on someone’s sideline next season, but he isn’t what’s keeping Herman, his former offensive coordinator, up at night.
It’s the recruits.
Or better put, what they think of Texas football.
Questions about guys like Urban are easily navigated, but when recruits start to buy into what’s being read and said, things can get dicey. Social media conjecture and dealing with the questions from the media are all in a week’s work, but when potential program changers like Southlake Carroll’s Quinn Ewers — a five-star pro-style quarterback who’s the top-ranked recruit in the nation for the class of 2022 — begin to bail, then things get more serious on campus.Ewers grew up a devoted Longhorns fan but announced Oct. 28 via Twitter that he was reopening his recruitment. It came around the time the Horns had dropped back-to-back games to Oklahoma and TCU.
This is all about Tom and whether he can lead the Longhorns back to the winner’s circle, or better yet, if he will even be around when Ewers graduates in the spring of 2022.
The questions about Herman’s job security Monday were important, but the thought of recruits questioning the direction of the program because of something they read from the Twitter mob or elsewhere on social media? That cut him to the quick.
In all, his answer clocked in at 4 minutes, 36 seconds.
“When you have the things that have been written about us in our program, myself and our future — very unfounded articles that state, again, opinion as fact, that state unnamed sources as being factual — it’s very hard to defend against,” Herman said, “because if I’m a competing recruiter, what do you do? You press print. And you say, ‘Look, this is true. It must be true.’ ”
Herman went as far as to say athletic director Chris Del Conte suggested meeting with recruits to give Texas’ perspective, which tells us all we need about the importance of controlling the message to land stud players like Ewers and the program’s trajectory upward, though the arc isn’t as north as many fans had hoped.
For now, all Herman can do to answer the critics is win games, starting with Saturday at Kansas. At 30-17 over four-plus seasons, he is behind where many (including me) thought he would be at this point.
Winning out in 2020 will silence some critics, but not making it to the Big 12 title game would only be viewed as a step backward, especially with the sobering reality that quarterback Sam Ehlinger will presumably leave here without a conference title.
As for what his players think of what he has always called outside noise, Herman is confident things are moving in the right direction.
“I’m concerned about beating Kansas,” he said. “I’m concerned about all of our goals still being in front of us.”