On a day when the Texas Longhorns scrimmaged for the first time during preseason camp, the biggest story in college football took on a decidedly burnt-orange tint when Ohio State Buckeyes beat reporter Jeff Snook posted the explosive claim that Texas head coach Tom Herman was the tipster to former ESPN college football reporter Brett McMurphy:
I have confirmed that Texas Coach Tom Herman was the tipster who initiated Brett McMurphy’s reporting, which led to this investigation at Ohio State-details to follow
McMurphy’s reporting on the alleged domestic abuse committed by Ohio State wide receivers coach Zach Smith led to Smith’s termination and an ongoing investigation into what head coach Urban Meyer knew about that alleged abuse and when he found out about it. Meyer is currently on administrative leave pending the investigation’s completion.
Texas Coach Tom Herman, a former Ohio State assistant coach, tipped sports reporter Brett McMurphy to details of the Zach Smith-Courtney Carano Smith relationship that led to Smith’s firing, Urban Meyer’s paid-administrative leave and the investigation that has currently engulfed the Buckeyes’ program, several sources told me.
Furthermore, Tom and wife Michelle Herman encouraged Courtney Smith to go public with her claims that her ex-husband had physically abused her, sources say.
“They wanted Zach Smith fired,” one source said. “They had some dirt on him and wanted him off of Ohio State’s staff.”
The Hermans have even helped pay for Courtney Smith’s legal fees, two of my sources told me.
Tom Herman’s motive?
Herman was furious after five-star receiver Garrett Wilson committed to Ohio State in April over Texas, sources say. Wilson played at Austin (Texas) Lake Travis High, just miles from the Longhorns’ campus. Zach Smith was the Buckeyes’ primary recruiter in getting Wilson’s commitment.
Herman was the offensive coordinator at Ohio State under Meyer from 2012-2014 and previously declined to discuss what he knew about Smith’s alleged domestic abuse. However, Herman denied the report on Saturday, as did McMurphy:
Via spokesman, Texas coach Tom Herman tells me about the Jeff Snook story: "It is absolutely untrue. Neither I, nor anybody in my family, has ever communicated with Brett McMurphy about the situation at Ohio State.” 1/2— Brian Davis (@BDavisAAS) August 11, 2018
For those who have asked for my response to Jeff Snook’s claim Saturday: “I have never revealed my sources in my nearly four decade journalistic career & I am not going to start now. However, I will say unequivocally that Tom Herman was not my source.”— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) August 11, 2018
Herman also clarified some details around the alleged financial support for Courtney Smith:
Herman also addressed the Snook claim that he and Michelle helped pay Courtney Smith's legal bills: "In March of 2017, my wife assisted her friend Courtney Smith during a time of financial need. We have not provided any financial assistance since then.” @statesman— Brian Davis (@BDavisAAS) August 11, 2018
Michelle Herman responded, as well: