With one week and one embarrassing loss in the books, it seems about right that college football fans already have to listen to some Texas coaches squirm and blame-shift.
Tom Herman coached his first game as the Texas head coach this weekend; it did not go well. The Longhorns let Maryland—a program that only managed to top 40 points against FIU, Purdue, and Howard in 2016—hang 51 points on them and walk away with the upset win, in Austin no less. The loss continued Texas’s ongoing stretch of shitty defense and the Associated Press voters’s stretch of slapping a top-25 rating on damn near any big-name program. After the game, Herman was asked a bevy of questions concerning the state of the program; he handled it fine for the most part, save for one now-common first-year coach response.
“I told our guys, never get used to this feeling, but that if we all thought that we were going to come in here and in nine months sprinkle some fairy dust on this team and think that we’ve arrived, then we’re wrong.”
The “fairy dust” refrain didn’t pick up much play earlier this week, mainly because with the increasing coaching turnover found in college football, reporters, coaches, and athletic directors have become comfortable with the idea of new coaches attempting to shift the blame for the state of their program to their predecessors. Then, when the frauds are exposed as such, they get to walk away with millions in buyout clause money, leaving behind another pit for another man to walk in and spin the same record at the postgame pressers.
In Herman’s case, he nearly got away with blaming his team shitting the bed and the whole damn house on Charlie Strong—who was actually dealt a bad hand recruiting-wise when he took over—and all of Strong’s recruits that still suit up for the Longhorns. Unfortunately for Herman, the comment caught the attention of college football’s favorite ornery coach.
Speaking with CBS Sports on Thursday, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer pushed back on the player-blaming strategy, calling out Herman as well as his own Florida successor, Will Muschamp, for not owning up to the state of their programs from the start—though the case with the Gators had more to do with the fact that players Meyer recruited were well-known for their off-field issues. Meyer, who was successful from day one at Ohio State after Jim Tressel’s resignation and a year of Luke Fickell as interim coach, said coaches assume responsibility for every player on the roster the moment they sign on the dotted line.
Focusing his attention on Herman, Meyer made efficient use of his words, suggesting that should his Texas counterpart want to blame anyone for Saturday’s embarrassment, he ought to take hard looks at the scoreboard, the opponent, and the mirror.
“C’mon man. I don’t know where that came from,” Meyer told CBS Sports. “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.”
The simplest burns always sting the most.
Correction (Sept. 8, 9:04 a.m.) : This post originally stated that Maryland only surpassed the 40-point mark against FIU and Howard last season, but the Terps also topped 40 against Purdue, which finished 117th in the nation in points allowed.