Thirsty Thursday | The “Eyes of Texas” are Upon Tom Herman
Welcome back to another edition of Thirsty Thursdays! As always, I’m here to try to help quench your thirst for Longhorn Football, whenever I can, along with other topics of interest in Longhorn sports this week.
The “Eyes of Texas” are upon Tom Herman …
Let me start this section off by saying that I don’t believe that we would even be having a conversation right now about the school alma mater if this 2020 version of the Texas Longhorns were 3-1 or 4-0 right now. I’m of the opinion that in a way, not dissimilar at all from the national anthem controversy, a song is being used to distract from the true issues at hand.
Nevertheless, following a vomit-inducing contest on Saturday against what was probably the worst Oklahoma Football team of this century, all of the chickens are starting to come home to roost. If you recall, there has been a lot going on in America since about March, when this COVID-19 Pandemic shut everything down nationwide. A few months later, George Floyd, who ironically would have been turning 47 years old today, was murdered in broad daylight by a Minnesota Police Officer, sparking racial tension throughout the country and causing fractures among many working relationships.
Professional Athletes took the initiative, using their platforms to bring attention to this specific issue and the issue of racial inequality in America. This time, in an unprecedented twist, the College Athletes followed. For the first time that I can ever remember, there was a unified voice of minority athletes in “amateur” athletics and everything rallied around the death of Mr. Floyd. Other issues began to be examined closer by the younger generation and they’ve began asking questions and challenging “traditions” that have long been standing at many institutions across the country.
Everything became public on June 12th for Texas. Players voiced their displeasure and lack of comfort level with a few things on campus. From the lack of recognition of pioneer African American Athletes on campus such as Julius Whittier, to the names of individuals that in the past have been associated with hate and racial division removed from campus buildings. They wanted change.
The “Eyes of Texas,” is a long-standing tradition for the University of Texas and for many of its graduates and fans. There was attention brought to the origins of the song and there were players on the team that stated that they didn’t feel comfortable singing the song.
Texas Coach Tom Herman also publicly sided with his players and has even led marches downtown with his team to bring attention to issues of racial injustice.
On July 13th, new Texas President Jay Hartzell announced that a wide range of diversity initiatives had been created in response to the letter publicly posted by the athletes on campus. If you remember, there was plenty of outpouring public approval from Texas players on social media after these changes were announced.
It appears though, unfortunately, that not much has really changed from that time up until this very moment that I’m writing this piece.
This was just tweeted out on Monday, October 12, 2020. Sterns didn’t play in the game against Oklahoma on October 10th.
On October 4th, Texas President Jay Hartzell said the following in an email to the university community, “I understand and appreciate the deep passion surrounding our alma mater, “The Eyes of Texas.” As we move forward and continue to perform and sing ‘The Eyes,’ it is critical that we understand the full history of the song, share that history broadly and provide context around its meanings, origins, and roles during the past 120 years.”
It was then stated that Texas would revisit the topic in early 2021, which essentially left the topic to be a potential issue later on.
It’s officially become an enormous issue.
Following the Quadruple OT loss to Oklahoma on Saturday, pictures began to circulate on social media, message boards, and other forms of the internet of Senior Quarterback Sam Ehlinger standing as the lone player that remained on the field after the game for the duration of the song.
There has been outrage expressed by some fans publicly and there have been rumors of donations being rescinded behind the scenes from program donors over the issue.
Are we sure this is really about the song and not about the extremely underwhelming fourth year under a former hotshot young coach with a 4-year starter at the helm?
I knew the lyrics to ‘The Eyes’ when I was at Texas. Hell, as Freshmen, we were all forced to stand up together onstage and sing it in front of the rest of the team. I stood out on the field with my teammates after games and often held up my index and pinky fingers after ballgames -whether we won or we lost- simply out of respect for the people in the stands that came out to support or traveled to support the team during our 60 minutes of battle.
Do I believe that it is not a great look that the majority of the guys didn’t stay out there? Yes.
Sure, it would be nice to show some unity by everyone sticking around together and standing afterward for the song. From the other side of the spectrum, though, they kind of DID show unity by everyone being on the same page and leaving the field. In that same breath, I think one guy choosing to stay out on the field by himself could also be considered not being a good teammate. Just a thought.
Do I believe that any intent or malice was meant behind the players not staying out there? Not really.
Think about it. After a loss, especially one that was extended extra time like that one, the last thing most guys want to do is stand outside with their helmets off in the heat and sing.
Especially considering the setting, with Oklahoma celebrating midfield in the backdrop.
If the song in question is one that some players have expressed that they are uncomfortable with, well, that also makes some sense as to why some guys wouldn’t stick around if given an option.
Tom Herman had given his guys the option and a lot of people have a big problem with that. Should it really come as a surprise that he doesn’t/didn’t make it a requirement?
This off-season has been filled with Herman publicly backing his players. He can’t really renege on that now, especially with his job possibly on the line if this program doesn’t put together a string of W’s in a hurry. But the kitchen is about to get even hotter.
Athletic Director Chris Del Conte gave Herman a 2-year contract extension on his previous deal which was good through 2021, pushing Herman’s contract through 2023 with the final two years being worth a total of over $13 Million. If Texas were to cut bait with Herman after this season, it would be on the hook for three years of paying a guy that isn’t working for him as well as a brand-new staff for a new coach.
Not ideal at all in the current climate of financial uncertainty that has been caused by COVID-19.
The two are starting to look like their fates could be tied together, but that could still be to be determined based on Herman’s next move. Late yesterday evening, this news came out from Del Conte in his weekly public forum:
If I am to be understanding this correctly, the players are now going to be asked (required? forced?) to stand for the song at the end of competitions.
I’m sure that this will be seen by some players as an infringement upon their agreement and understanding from this summer. Tom Herman and his staff will be responsible for somehow keeping the band-aid on this situation, while also trying to “establish an identity” over these next 10 or so days before (hopefully) playing Baylor.
Early in Herman’s tenure Texas had an identity. They were consistently the tougher, more physical team heading in to each matchup but that has changed the longer he has been at the helm. This is as tumultuous as I can remember hearing things being surrounding the Football program since I’ve been old enough to pay attention and I’m wondering if we’re all about to witness an epic meltdown with all eyes in America upon Texas over the next 6-8 weeks.
A few new 2021 Offensive Line Names of Interest …
This section is for my recruiting nerds.
You all know that recruiting isn’t going well right now. I don’t have any very positive updates to give you all as far as star recruits are concerned, so I’m going to keep them to myself.
Texas doesn’t have a lot of momentum going right now, but that doesn’t mean that Texas has given up on recruiting or that folks have stopped looking for late bloomers.
Caden Barnett is a 6’5 305lb Offensive Tackle that also competes in Wrestling and Shot Put and Discus for Northwest High School in Justin, Texas. He lines up at Right Tackle, H-Back, and Defensive End at the 5A classification in Texas. Impressive. Barnett currently only holds offers from programs like UCONN, San Diego State, Louisiana-Monroe, New Mexico State, and Wyoming, while receiving some much increased interest recently from Texas Tech and SMU.
If you take a look at his early season clips from this season, you’ll see a guy that has the makings of what looks like a Power 5 Offensive Guard. In speaking to Barnett, he would be very, very interested in Texas if the Longhorns were to eventually turn their attention to him.
The second guy that I want to show some love to today plays his ball in the DFW Metroplex for Sam Houston High School in Arlington, Texas.
Zavier Leonard is currently unranked on any recruiting sites, but is committed to Incarnate Word. They know they got a steal and they’re trying to keep it as quiet as possible.
Leonard goes 6’4 295lbs and he is a guy that would have blown up this spring if not for the pandemic taking place.
Every year, there are low-rated or unranked Offensive Linemen that get selected in the NFL Draft. It’s the most unpredictable position to predict development that there is. I’d be willing to bet that one of these guys turns into a multi-year starter one day. I’d love to hear some of your thoughts on the duo.
By The Numbers | Red River Rivalry
– CJ Vogel
Let’s take a look at some of the wildest statistics from one of the wackiest Red River Rivalry games I can remember.
Again, Can’t Run Right
We have known that the right side of the offensive line has been the weakest link on the Texas offense. Well, against Oklahoma, the right side of the offensive line was abysmal in the running game. Here are the numbers:
Rushing attempts to the right of the center. Excludes impromptu QB scrambles.
- Attempts: 9
- Yards: 10
- Longest rush: 7 yards (Keaontay’s fumble in the first quarter)
Texas clearly abandoned the run as the game went on, and honestly, I can’t blame them.
Ehlinger Keeping Hopes Alive
It didn’t take much analysis to know Sam Ehlinger did not have his best day. For the first 3.75 quarters of the afternoon, Sam was pretty much shut down. However, the final five minutes, Sam showed the exact type of play that puts him in the conversation for being a Texas Legend at the end of his career.
First 13 Drives of Regulation
- Passing: 21/35, 204 yards, INT
- Rushing: 9 carries, 53 yards rushing, 2 TD
Final Two Drives of Regulation
- Passing: 5/7, 52 yards, 2 TD
- Rushing: 3 carries, 47 yards rushing,
This has been a common theme for Sam to essentially put the team on his back in the final ~4 minutes of the game to try and salvage a loss.
Just Frustrating Plays…
Again, Texas was not efficient on third down in the loss to Oklahoma. In the last two seasons, third down efficiency had been a strong-suit for the team offensively, however, on Saturday the Longhorns converted on just 6/17 attempts on third down.
A look at each inconceivable mistakes on 3rd and 4th Down:
- Drive 4: 3rd & 16 – 15-yard run to the 2-yard line followed by 15-yard personal foul (field goal)
- Drive 6: 3rd & 10 – 9-yard scramble (blocked punt)
- Drive 8: 4th & 2 – false start when attempting to go for it (punt in OU territory)
- Drive 9: 4th & 22 – Penalty on Brennan Eagles followed by sack of Ehlinger. Texas was looking at 3rd & 6 before the penalty.
- Drive 10 & 11: 4th & 1 – punts on both drives.
- Drive 12: 3rd & 12 – sack (punt)
- Drive 13: 4th & 1 – Texas goes for it and converts (!!!!!!)
- 3rd OT: 3rd & 10 – sack (blocked FG)
- 4th OT: 1st & goal on 9-yd line – holding (INT two plays later)
Dreaded 17-Play, 8:04 Drive From OU
On the flip-side of the aforementioned drive-killing plays in the segment above, Oklahoma did basically everything right in a brutal 17-play, eight minute drive that resulted in a touchdown to put the Sooners up 31–17.
OU went 3/3 on third downs on the drive and did so by a combined 4 yards.
- 3rd & 1 – two-yard rush (first down)
- 3rd & 9 – ten-yard completion (first down)
- 3rd & 7 – nine-yard completion (first down)
The Sooners did just enough three straight third downs to continue the drive and put seven points on the board. Brutal for the Texas defense who was in the right position essentially each play.
More of the Same
Here is this week’s missed tackle count.
- Demarvion Overshown – 4
- Juwan Mitchell – 2
- BJ Foster – 2
- Jerrin Thompson – 1
- Joseph Ossai – 1
- Keondre Coburn – 1
- Moro Ojomo – 1
- Cort Jacquess – 1
- TaQuon Graham – 1
- Chris Adimora – 1
- Josh Thompson – 1
Texas had 16 total missed tackles against Oklahoma. Whatever Texas is doing in practice, clearly is not working.
Some Quick Thoughts
– Andrew King
It doesn’t matter if you wanted to say it coming into the weekend, but this was a must win game for both teams today. Texas was 2-1 coming in and Oklahoma was 1-2.
Texas fell to Oklahoma in four overtimes over the weekend. It wasn’t close for most of the second half second half. Oklahoma had a long touchdown drive in the third quarter that gave them a 14 point lead. After that, the Texas offense still couldn’t get going until a late rally led by Sam Ehlinger to send it to overtime. But like K has said, and I think he’s hit the nail on the head with just about all of it. Tom Herman and Sam Ehlinger can’t hide from the numbers. This is Herman’s seventh loss at Texas against an unranked opponent in less than 3 1/2 years at Texas. And Sam Ehlinger is now 1-4 against Oklahoma.
Texas has been outscored 38-14 in the third quarter in 2020. That tells you a lot. The adjustments aren’t being made. The defense hasn’t been good in 2020, but this offense was terrible for most of the game. And with an offensive coach like Herman, and a senior quarterback in Ehlinger, days like today can’t happen.
Herman and company always preach a “1-0” attitude, and that’s all we can really look for right now. Texas’ week to week development. Because it looks like the major goals of the 2020 season are off the table. And that’s where the future of Tom Herman and Texas comes into play.
That week to week development is going to be huge again. Because I’m of the opinion the situations of COVID-19 could end up getting Herman through this season. That’s just my gut feeling in the end. If Herman loses the locker room and this team has a bad remainder of the season, could that change things? Absolutely.
The bye week gives Herman and his team the chance to get healthy, and hit the reset button. Because the season isn’t completely lost yet.
I’ll loop back around in the comments this afternoon if you have any team related questions/conversation!
Recruiting | LJ Johnson
– Super K
A big story in the coming weeks is going to be how Texas bounces and back and what impact winning or losing is going to have on the 2021 recruitment.
***I can tell you definitively that LJ Johnson was in the boat. Don’t ask me how I know but I know.
***Now, that is certainly up in the air.
***Both Texas A&M and Oklahoma are pushing hard for him.
***I spoke to a source who said essentially that Texas has probably surrendered the lead here given the performance of the run game at TAMU vs what happened this past weekend for Texas.
***Despite that, source said there still seems to be time to recover. Source noted that this is obviously a low point for Texas but that can change in a hurry. And, I agree. Put together a couple of nice wins and they can potentially swing this one back in their favor.
***It doesn’t seem as though LJ plans on announcing anything right away. The original plan was for him to announce in early September but that continues to get pushed back.
***Again, recruiting is going to become a major story if Herman can’t get things right. He has some good recruiters both on his coaching and support staff but there’s only so much they can do if the wins aren’t there and the public support for Herman continues to wane.
ICYMI: Billy Bowman’s New Top 3
– CJ Vogel
Former Texas commit and Denton Ryan ATH Billy Bowman released his new top three following his decommitment from the Longhorns.
The exclusion of the Longhorns from the top three gives the impression that Bowman has shut the door on a possible return to the class despite high school teammate Ja’Tavion Sanders remaining locked in.
We have reason to believe Oklahoma has a lead here.