I don’t know if I would go all the way to mysterious, but the 10-year run of mediocrity by the Texas football program has been at the least puzzling. This run has been presided over by three head coaches, three athletic directors, three university presidents (the third time has not been the charm) and countless coordinators and assistant coaches. This run of mediocrity has been impervious to a never-ending capital-intensive campaign to upgrade the football facilities—four car garage and we’re still building on—and the heavy meddling of some of the University’s largest and most influential donors.
Maybe the common thread running through the regimes of three different presidents and athletic directors is ineptitude in overseeing UT Football. The botched effort to hire Urban Meyer by Chris Del Conte and Jay Hartzell is the latest example.
Del Conte and Hartzell failed to keep their efforts under wraps while Tom Herman and his team still had three games to go and were competing for a conference championship. I suspect the above-mentioned donors were the unnamed sources cited by the blogs including Inside Texas and Orange Bloods in their so-called reporting on the courting of Meyer.
After the efforts to hire Meyer failed the blog sites kept stirring the pot claiming UT was now pursuing other candidates. Then Del Conte released the amazingly ambiguous statement that in part read, “I want to reiterate that Tom Herman is still our coach.” Was the statement purposely ambiguous and released for the sake of recruiting and the early nation signing day that was just a few days away? Did Hartzell and the board of regents approve the statement before its release? Was Del Conte’s statement a reaction to Herman’s reported interest in the South Carolina vacancy? Del Conte later confirmed in a phone call with the American-Statesman that his statement means Herman will be the coach in 2021. Meaning January 2021, September 2021? This situation is a mess and needs cleaning up.
The way that Hartzell and Del Conte have handled the failed attempt to hire Meyer and its aftermath gives me no faith in their ability to competently oversee Herman and the football program or an ongoing or future search and hiring of new head coach. For Texas Football to be better, Hartzell and Del Conte need to do better.
I’ve been reading about what a sorry state Texas recruiting was for the 2021 class. After the early signing period Texas’ class is rated 17th by 247 Sports and ESPN. Though it’s not the top 10 rated class that Herman has had the previous three years, 17th doesn’t seem like a disaster. If there is finally clarity on the coaching front before the signing day in February, the ranking will probably improve. Under the circumstances, Herman and his staff have done a good job in recruiting a 2021 class so far.
Recruiting hasn’t been Texas’ and Herman’s problem. Player development and game management are.
Herman has failed to develop the top 10 ranked recruiting classes into top 10 teams. He has failed to tailor his game planning—particularly on offense—to the talent and strengths of his players.
His game management has been fundamentally wrong on so many occasions during his tenure at Texas whether it’s when to go for it on 4th down rather than punting or attempting a field goal, managing timeouts and the clock or when to go for two after a touchdown. His substitution patterns seem to be random with no regard to the game situation. Why against Iowa State, on the last drive of the game, did he have backup receivers in the game and not Brennan Eagles, Jake Smith, and Jordan Whittington? Get a clue, Tom. Also, on that last drive, couldn’t he make sure Sam Ehlinger understood that he absolutely could not take a sack? Ehlinger should have known better but Herman should have made sure.
Herman needs to do better in many areas.
Inside Texas, Orangebloods etc.
These sites and probably others have lost credibility with me. I subscribe to Inside Texas almost exclusively for the writing and analysis of Paul Wadlington aka Scipio Tex. He doesn’t trade in rumors and unnamed sources as the other contributors do. If they want to authoritatively report in column after column about the process of something as monumental and complicated as the firing and hiring of the UT head football coach citing unnamed sources they should expect to be embarrassed. They aren’t because they don’t have enough self-awareness to be embarrassed. Instead, they had a digital tantrum after Del Conte released his statement claiming the hiring and firing of the head coach wasn’t his decision to make. Del Conte may not have absolute authority but to claim he doesn’t have any is just silly and stupid. If you say something like that, I have little interest in any opinions you have on the subject. Grow up. Do better.