The speculation over the direction of the Texas football program is over for at least one more year. In a statement released on Saturday, Longhorns athletic director Chris Del Conte said that coach Tom Herman will be back in 2021, putting to bed any notion that Herman would be fired after a 6-3 season.
News of Herman's return next season comes after Texas reportedly made overtures towards Urban Meyer, who currently is a studio analyst at FOX but previously won national championships at Ohio State and Florida.
"There's been a lot of speculation about the future of our football coach. 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," Del Conte said. "When I look at our football program right now, I see tremendous young men and promising talent. 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."
At play in Herman's future was not only Meyer's potential interest, but his own buyout. The Austin American-Statesman reports that Herman would have been owed $15 million for the remaining three years of his guaranteed contract. Additionally, the buyout for Herman's assistants would have totaled another $10 million, bringing Texas' bill to $25 million before another coaching staff would even be brought aboard.
Though Texas is self-sufficient, this is still a pandemic year and athletic departments all across the country are tightening their belts. Texas has not been immune to salary reductions and cutbacks within athletics. The Longhorns could have footed the bill to buyout Herman, but probably only if Meyer coming in was a guarantee.
Herman is 31-18 in four seasons at Texas with one Big 12 Championship Game appearance in 2018. He and his staff have generally recruited well with three top-10 classes, but failure to develop players has been a big mark against him. Herman has also been in a precarious spot this year trying to play both sides regarding the school's alma mater "The Eyes of Texas." Longhorn student-athletes demanded over the summer that the song be replaced due to racist undertones and twisted ties to Robert E. Lee -- common themes throughout cultural artifacts. Meanwhile, many boosters and fans wanted to keep the song and the players on the field after the games to sing it. Herman was tasked with trying to keep the locker room while appeasing the people who help keep him employed.
Rumors about Meyer succeeding Herman have been circulating for months, but they hit a fever pitch after the Longhorns' loss to Iowa State in late November that eliminated them from the Big 12 title game race. With Meyer not coming to Texas, Herman will be back in 2021, perhaps so the university can do this song and dance all over again.