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Tom Herman says he had ‘direct and hard conversations’ with Texas staffer Casey Horny

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The former Baylor staffer was never interviewed by Pepper Hamilton, according to Herman.

On National Signing Day, Texas Longhorns head coach Tom Herman addressed the controversial hire of former Baylor Bears staffer Casey Horny in a prepared statement and a follow-up question.

As Herman did in a recent appearance on 104.9 The Horn in Austin, the Texas head coach defended the hire of Horny despite the quality control coach’s outspoken support of former Baylor head coach Art Briles, who was fired last May amidst the school’s ongoing sexual assault scandal.

“We have typically not done much publicizing of quality control coaches,” Horny said. “But I do realize that Casey comes in under unique circumstances, and that drew attention to the point that Mike Perrin released a statement in support of his hiring. As Mike said, he and Casey talked at length, and he was vetted by myself and several people at UT before he joined our staff.”

The nature of that exact vetting process is not entirely clear, but Herman did say that he received a letter from Baylor athletic director Mack Rhoades that assured Texas that Horny was not involved in the problems in Waco.

“Before he came on board, we had some very direct and hard conversations and I do believe he had no knowledge of the unfortunate circumstances that were going on at Baylor,” Herman said.

And though Horny himself hasn’t expressed any public remorse since deleting tweets supporting Briles in the immediate aftermath of his hire at Texas, Herman said that he has expressed contrition behind the scenes.

“He clearly understands he shouldn't have been involved in the social media discussion or been part of that ill-advised tweet regarding Baylor. It was a mistake. He owns that and doesn't support anything certainly that happened there.”

Except that he did implicitly support what happened there by explicitly supporting Briles as recently as before the game against Texas.

One of the further issues with the tweets was the lack of regard that they showed for the numerous victims of the scandal. A recently-filed lawsuit alleged that there were 52 act of rape committed by 31 football players over the course of four years.

Herman emphasized that Horny does have sympathy for those victims.

“It was an unfortunate situation all around, and I want to make everybody know that Casey and myself both have the utmost regard for the victims of those crimes,” Herman said. “He also understands our expectations here at the University of Texas, and he will do a terrific job working with our special teams and be a positive influence on our young men.”

When a reporter pointed out that Horny worked directly under Briles, Herman pushed back against that job description and noted that Horny was never interviewed by Pepper Hamilton during the law firm’s investigation.

While those comments from the Texas head coach probably don’t relieve the continued disappointment many fans feel about Horny being on the staff, there’s not much that Herman could say or do short of firing his longtime friend that would effectively appease those upset by the hire.

And there’s now another layer to the story.

The recent lawsuit, Elizabeth Doe vs. Baylor, also contained explosive allegations of a “show ‘em a good time” policy by the Bears that included using sex to sell the program to recruits. The lawsuit also alleged a culture of partying with drugs and alcohol by players and recruits that created the environment for five alleged gang rapes, including two featuring 10 or more players at the same time.

Since staffers like Horny are often involved in the recruiting process, it’s hard to believe that he was completely unaware of that aspect of the broken football culture in Waco. It’s especially hard to believe that he wasn’t aware of anything that was going on.

Moreover, since the lawsuit wasn’t filed at the time of Horny’s hire, there was no way that Herman could have asked Horny about any potential involvement in or knowledge of the allegations contained in it.

Since it seems clear that the scandal in Waco will continue to unfold in periodic episodes, fully vetting Horny would be extremely difficult, if not impossible — Baylor simply hasn’t been transparent enough to know who knew what and when.

How can Herman and Perrin ask the right questions if they don’t have anywhere close to the available information?

Such is the nature of a hire that’s virtually impossible to spin in any positive way beyond football.