It’s been 2.5 weeks since Rivals writer Anwar Richardson asked Tom Herman directly about the rumors that he could be replaced by his former boss Urban Meyer, and since that time the smoke has only intensified. In a very College Football development, the latest embers emblazoned when Austonia, a new startup site covering the culture of Austin, reported that Meyer’s wife Shelley “recently visited Austin to assess the real estate situation.”
The connection makes sense on a lot of obvious levels. It’s now been over a decade since Mack Brown brought Texas to a BCS national championship game, and the Longhorns haven’t really been in plausible title contention since then. The final four seasons under Brown, three years of Charlie Strong and now four of Tom Herman have not come close enough to contending at an elite level for boosters and a fan base who believe that’s their birthright.
There are maybe seven or eight programs in the country that give coaches only three or four years to prove that they can contend for the College Football Playoff, or they’re out. Texas is one of them.
Urban Meyer, meanwhile, is one of four or five coaches in America who could actually accomplish that. He won two national titles at Florida and one at Ohio State. If he returns to coaching, I believe that he will more than likely win at least one more.
Meyer has spent the last two football seasons at Fox Sports (disclosure: OutKick founder Clay Travis is an on-air personality at FS1). Like A-Rod, Meyer has rehabbed his tarnished image, thanks in large part to producers who have put him in a position to provide incisive analysis and appear likable doing it.
A year ago, a battle raged at USC. A faction of the program’s power base wanted to replace Clay Helton with Meyer, but USC president Carol Folt reportedly opposed the idea.
Meyer’s final season at Ohio State was marred by a scandal involving former assistant coach Zach Smith. Smith was accused of domestic violence, and many questioned why Meyer would allow him to remain on the Ohio State staff. Meyer was suspended for the first three games of the 2018 season. Later that season, Smith accused Tom Herman — who had previously served as offensive coordinator at Ohio State under Meyer — of trying to bring Meyer down. Meyer ultimately retired at the end of the season.
A year before that, Meyer and Herman had a public spat when Herman commented that it was difficult for him to win early in his time at Texas because he was working with players he didn’t recruit. (Sidenote: he’s still finding it difficult to win there with players he did recruit.)
“C’mon, man. I don’t know where that came from,” Meyer said of Herman’s comments. “It’s like a new generation of excuse. [Herman] said, ‘I can’t rub pixie dust on this thing.’ He got a dose of reality. Maryland just scored 51 points on you.”
“I don’t have time to worry about comments made by somebody else about their program,” Herman responded when asked about what his former boss had said. “I’m worried about our program and winning a game. Anybody that’s been around me and our staff for the last 10 months knows we’ve never disparaged the previous staff or our current players.”
We’ll have to see if Herman does indeed wind up losing his job at Texas and if Meyer does indeed wind up replacing him. But everything about the rumors is very juicy.