Listen to Austin 360 Radio
SUBSCRIBE NOW
As low as $3 for 3 months
SUBSCRIBE NOW
As low as $3 for 3 months

Bohls: Texas' blowout win won't snuff out rumors about Herman

Kirk Bohls
Austin American-Statesman

Texas won the most meaningless football game of the year on Saturday, which in and of itself presumably carries a ton of meaning.

Tom Herman talked about how his team, unranked and to a certain extent unloved, played with pride and purpose and passion. And it did all of that, but curiously after being eliminated from the Big 12 race.

The players all spoke of being loose and free and competing for the pure joy of playing. “This is a game. We get to play football. We’re not working football,” quarterback Sam Ehlinger poignantly said. There was no joy the first eight games?

The scoreboard in Manhattan showing a convincing-and-then-some 69-31 Texas win with its most points in 15 seasons reflected the talent gap between the Longhorns and a COVID-strapped Kansas State team that has now lost five straight. Scoring 11 times in 13 possessions showed focus and readiness for a 6-3 team that will finish the regular season at Kansas next week.

For once, Texas did not play to the level of the opponent. It played to a standard, one aided by a string of outstanding players like freshman running back sensation Bijan Robinson, who had a breakout game with three touchdowns, and junior All-America defensive end candidate Joseph Ossai and the team’s outgoing senior quarterback and a whole bunch of other talent.

Maybe Texas should threaten to fire its coach every week, if it’s going to play this well.

But does it matter a whit? Does it change any minds, foremost those of President Jay Hartzell and athletic director Chris Del Conte? Does it slow the avalanche of rumors that Herman may not return?

Not likely.

The Texas administration is waiting on every Urban Meyer hint and reading something into everything big or small in the meantime. His building a dream house in Florida. His relaxed body language on his Fox pregame show. His comments about fans at elite programs who are “completely out of their mind” and who expect 15-0 records, perfect graduation scores, top-five recruiting classes and player development for the NFL. 

And what he isn’t saying. Or hasn’t said.

Meyer hasn’t said no.

And Texas hasn’t told Herman to go.

Not yet and maybe, just maybe, not at all.

Everything remains on the table, even a potential pursuit of others like Florida’s Dan Mullen, Penn State’s James Franklin or Iowa State’s Matt Campbell. 

All this could change in the blink of an eye from a simple I’ll take the job from Meyer, a two-time national championship coach and the best one on the market who isn’t Nick Saban or Dabo Swinney. Meyer clearly could put an end to all the rampant speculation he will replace his former offensive coordinator in Austin with a single tweet. So he either likes the attention or is using it as leverage or he is seriously considering it.

I’m buying the latter. 

One Texas higher-up suggested Saturday he was thinking Meyer was 70/30 in favor of coming to Texas. Later in the day he reduced that viability to a 50/50 proposition. It's very tenuous.

But no one truly knows other than Meyer and his family.

Not even Herman, and that has to be driving him crazy. Amidst a sea of rumors of his demise, Herman did an admirable job of coaching this week and can now brag on a fourth straight winning season, a shot at a 4-0 bowl record here and some promising talent on his roster and staff. Who knows which bowl wants Texas although the Alamo Bowl does not currently have the Longhorns in its pool of likely invitees.

“I don’t hear it. I don’t listen to it,” Herman said of the rumors. “I believe what our administration and my boss is telling me. And when you don’t get on the Internet and you stick to Yahoo News and Words With Friends and the Chive app, you kind of tend to stay above the fray a little bit."

In the end, this Wildcats team is a shell of itself, especially after losing its starting quarterback.

This Longhorns team remains a mystery club, capable of beating Oklahoma State and West Virginia but also of losing at home to TCU and Iowa State and almost to Texas Tech.

But Texas responded to adversity and speculation with its most emphatic win of the year.

And that too begs the question: Why can’t Texas play like this all the time?

And will Herman get a chance to coach ‘em up this good much longer?

It’s in Urban Meyer’s hands.