Kirk Bohls

American-Statesman Staff

Column

Bohls: Discipline, standards can’t be compromised at Texas — whatever the cost

Posted October 29th, 2018

Advertisement
Story highlights
  • Texas coach Tom Herman did the right thing in suspending his three players at the Oklahoma State game.
  • Breckyn Hager was admonished by his teammates for his bad play at the end of the game and as a captain should know better.
  • Herman said, "We have standards to uphold and when those standards aren't met, there's consequences for that."

Kris Boyd and Davonte Davis didn’t start. They didn’t play until the second quarter. They were suspended.

Lil’Jordan Humphrey sat out the first series of the game. He, too, was suspended.

Breckyn Hager bulldozed into an Oklahoma State receiver blocking on a kneel-down play by the victorious Cowboys and nearly set off a brawl, maybe even between the two head coaches as well. That was an unacceptable move.

Advertisement

Hager’s teammates spoke out against him for his breach of etiquette and lack of maturity. Besides, Hager’s a team captain  who should know better. Team captains don’t lose control and lose their head.

An incensed Boyd on Sunday railed on former Longhorns linebacker Emmanuel Acho for railing on the vanquished Longhorns. This from a Thorpe Award semifinalist. Or ex-semifinalist if these types of actions continue. Kris, you messed up, you paid the price, you didn’t play well. Just own it.

Texas defensive back Kris Boyd (2) walks on the sidelines during Saturday’s 38-35 loss to Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla. He and fellow cornerback Davante Davis were suspended for the first quarter. [NICK WAGNER/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]
So does this suggest that Texas is a football team in disarray and falling apart at the seams or was this just an example of Tom Herman enforcing much-needed discipline on his players?

I’ll take the latter. Discipline always trumps expediency, sometimes at a big price.

If you want to establish a culture, you don’t just do it in March. You do it every day, even if that day is one of the biggest games of the year. It’s all in, all of the time. That’s the only way a team will respect its coach. Put teeth into your rules.

This isn’t to excuse poor preparation and worse play from a Longhorns team that came back strong but lost 38-35 and painted itself as a fragile top 10 team that wasn’t up to the challenge.

Some have opined that the players’ punishment didn’t meet the crime, that Herman took too harsh a stance when he suspended his two starting cornerbacks for an entire quarter of a very important Big 12 game and crippled his own team. I disagree.  It’s not his fault a few guys were knuckleheads. Somebody has to be the parent.

Herman is practicing what he’s been preaching since Day One. He’s living out his message that bad behavior will have consequences. You have to put the team first.

Herman’s not thinking about just 2018. He’s thinking about 2019. And 2020. And beyond. Well beyond. He’s in it for the long term. That’s called establishing a culture.

Now it’s clear that his entire team hasn’t totally bought in. Not all 85 scholarship players anyway. Or at least not all the time.

If they had, they wouldn’t have been suspended for tardiness at meetings and missed classes. Boyd and Davis sat for multiple such offenses. If Herman didn’t make an example of them and uphold his standards, discipline only gets more lax.

Humphrey, a source said, was late for a team meeting Sunday night coming off the bye week. That’s why he sat less time.

Comments by Texas’ Charles Omeihu and Andrew Beck criticizing Hager’s actions could come off as finger-pointing and throwing a teammate under the bus to some, but I don’t really see a bus here. Beck is Hager’s roommate and even approached him before the post-game press conference to tell him he was wrong. That’s the proper way to do it.

Asked his level of anxiety over his team after these dramatic issues on Monday, Herman said, “No anxiety. Zero. You know, it doesn’t matter if we were playing Week 1 or Week 10 or who the opponent is, or if it was Oklahoma State or Oklahoma or Tulsa or San Jose State. I mean, we have standards to uphold and when those standards aren’t met, there’s consequences for that.”

Herman made it clear all his players are still kiss-worthy.

“We don’t love them any less,” he said. “When you ground your kid, it doesn’t mean you love them any less. It doesn’t mean your feelings have changed for them.

“We love Kris Boyd and we love Davante Davis and we love L.J. Humphrey, absolutely. They made a minor mistake that, you know, has to be reinforced. Our culture need to be reinforced on a daily basis, so that moving forward, especially our young guys know that it doesn’t matter who you’re playing or what your name is.”

Even if it could cost your team a game as this one may have. It might have cost much more if Herman had done nothing.

Comments