As the Texas Longhorns football players arrived back on campus for the start of the spring semester and offseason workouts under new strength and conditioning coach Yancy McKnight, head coach Tom Herman held a “Welcome Back” lunch for players and their parents on Monday.
During the luncheon, Herman introduced his staff and their families and informed parents about the program’s expectations.
“Today was a special event. Coach Herman and his staff wanted to have a chance to personally visit with the parents of the players as we’re all returning for the spring semester,” said athletic director Mike Perrin. “It’s a good place to talk about what’s going to happen schedule-wise, expectations that the coaching staff has for the students, and set the stage for a very successful fall program that will kick off after the summer.”
In listening to Herman give interviews and speak at the Houston Touchdown Club, it’s become apparent that he has certain canned speeches that he likes to give at various times. On Monday, players and parents heard his speech about the sacrifices necessary to win at the highest levels.
“The price of a championship exists and it’s never going to change,” Herman said while holding one hand well above his head.
“It’s never going to come down to our level. Ever. It’s there and it’s really high and it’s really hard and it hurts and it’s painful and it’s inconvenient and time-consuming and it takes so much self-sacrifice it’s not even funny, but it’s there and it’s never coming down.”
Supporting the staff and encouraging players to trust the coaching staff was another message from the new Longhorns head coach, a nod to the total alignment that Herman expects in his program.
Herman also addressed his expectations for families — don’t speak to the media, which, ironically, was shared with the Austin American-Statesman by a parent:
On Monday, Tom Herman told Texas parents to be positive about the team on social media and not to speak with reporters, a parent said.— Brian Davis (@BDavisAAS) January 17, 2017
One thing I've learned covering college sports, parents don't like being told what they can/can't do when it comes to their child/athlete.— Brian Davis (@BDavisAAS) January 17, 2017
“Our business is our business,” Herman said. “If your son tells you something, it’s expected to stay within the family because that’s family business. And we need your support and we need positivity. Your sons are going to be better husbands and better fathers, better employees having been through the program in the love that we will share with them.”
The directive from Herman is part of his larger obsession with controlling the message, which caused some tense moments with the media while he was at Houston, including a contentious on-air phone call with local radio hosts. During that heated discussion, Herman engaged in an argument essentially about semantics in large part because a recruit questioned his honesty due to the report that sparked the showdown.
Herman’s comments towards parents raise the question about the extent to which he wants to make families feel welcome in the program as a psychological ploy to exert influence over what information leaks out.