Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte offered a public vote of confidence in Tom Herman on Saturday, announcing that Herman will remain head coach despite a football season that fell below expectations.
The status of Herman, who is 31-18 in four seasons with the Longhorns, was the subject of much speculation throughout this season. The team’s 2-2 start and failure to make the Big 12 championship game after beginning the year ranked in the top 15 nationally — despite the return of fourth-year starting quarterback Sam Ehlinger and much of its defense — raised questions about Herman’s long-term status.
“There’s been a lot of speculation about the future of our football coach,” Del Conte said in a statement. “My policy is to wait until the end of the season before evaluating and commenting on our program and coaches. With the close of the regular season, I want to reiterate that Tom Herman is our coach.”
Much of the attention on Herman’s future was also related to the perceived availability of former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, a current college football analyst for Fox Sports.
The Austin American-Statesman reported last week, citing a source, that Meyer informed Texas officials he isn’t pursuing another coaching position because of health issues. Meyer, who has won a total of three national championships at Florida and Ohio State and had a 187-32 record before stepping away from coaching in 2018, was a desired target among Texas fans and alumni.
With Meyer out of the mix, the idea of moving on from Herman and his staff — which would require a buyout that’s estimated to be $25 million — made the idea of a coaching change that much tougher.
“When I look at our football program right now, I see tremendous young men and promising talent,” Del Conte said. “Our student-athletes are developing and they play their hearts out. This has been an unprecedented year for all of us, and we’re all disappointed that we didn’t meet our expectations.
“Like the many fans that follow and support our program, I can’t help but think what could have been in 2020. There’s still more work to be done, but I’m excited to watch our players and program move forward.”
Herman’s four seasons have been an improvement over the tenure of his predecessor, Charlie Strong, who was 16-21 in three seasons and did not record a winning season. The Longhorns will be headed to their fourth straight bowl game.
However, following a 2018 campaign in which the Longhorns played for the Big 12 championship and defeated Georgia in the Sugar Bowl to cap a 10-4 year, the Longhorns have failed to return to that level, recording 8-5 and 6-3 seasons at a program that expects to compete for conference and national championships on a regular basis.
After the 2019 season, Herman overhauled his coaching staff, bringing in new offensive (Mike Yurcich) and defensive (Chris Ash) coordinators. Herman often cited the difficult transition of installing new schemes on both sides of the ball in the unconventional, pandemic-shortened offseason as a reason the Longhorns weren’t as successful in 2020.
The Longhorns were scheduled to play their regular-season finale against Kansas on Saturday, but a COVID-19 outbreak on the roster led to the game’s cancellation. Texas is awaiting news on its bowl game destination.