FOOTBALL TEAM IN POST-FINALS BREAK, BUT THINGS CERTAINLY NOT QUIET
Tom Herman was in Los Angeles last weekend for an event at the swanky Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills attended by about 50 to 75 well-heeled Texas exes.
The event included a panel discussion moderated by former Texas Longhorns coach Mack Brown that included athletic director Mike Perrin, women’s athletic director Chris Plonsky, dean of the Moody College of Communication Jay Bernhardt, ESPN senior vice president Stephanie Druley and NFL chief content officer Jordan Levin.
The highlight of the night was Herman’s discussion of the football program coming out of spring ball to a crowd obviously excited about Texas’ trip to LA in September for a meeting with USC at the Coliseum (Sept. 16).
One fan at the event wanted to know why Texas would have a chance to beat the Trojans, and Herman found himself trying temper expectations.
“This team won five games last year,” said Herman, who then talked about the expectations he faced when he took over as coach at Houston in 2015.
Herman said when he took over at Houston he probably thought eight wins would be a fair expectation for a season in which the Cougars ended up going 13-1 with a win over Florida State in the Peach Bowl.
Herman’s story left those in the room thinking an eight-win season might also be a fair preliminary expectation for Texas, coming off three straight losing seasons, sources said.
The bottom line is Herman was clearly not in the mood to play the expectation game, sources said.
It’s also clear Herman is tired of hearing about how Charlie Strong has said “the cake is baked” at Texas and now merely needs frosting in regards to the 2017 season.
Herman seemed to question how a cake could be baked after three straight losing seasons. (Kind of hard to argue that point when put in that perspective.)
LATEST ON MALIK ZAIRE AND UT’S SEARCH FOR A GRAD TRANSFER QB
My source close to the situation said Wednesday night Notre Dame QB/grad transfer candidate Malik Zaire is waiting for the SEC to rule on a waiver that would allow Florida to accept a grad transfer. (The decision is expected in the next week.)
The Gators had two grad transfers previously who failed to meet academic standards, placing UF on “probation” by the SEC for grad transfers.
If the waiver is granted (as Florida is telling Zaire it will be), Zaire would then probably commit to the Gators, the source said. If the waiver does not materialize, Zaire’s second choice would be Wisconsin, the source said.
Zaire’s desire is to play in a pro-style offense, the source said.
Texas has not been eliminated from Zaire’s consideration, the source said, adding that Zaire has hit it off with Tom Herman and Texas offensive coordinator Tim Beck.
Beck recruited Zaire when Beck was the offensive coordinator at Nebraska under Bo Pelini, and the source said Nebraska was Zaire’s runner-up to Notre Dame out of high school.
The bottom line, the source said, is the only way Zaire ends up at Texas is if “everything else (regarding Florida and Wisconsin) falls apart.”
TEXAS SEARCH FOR NEW ACADEMIC SUPPORT CHIEF WINDING DOWN
I’m told UT’s search for a new academic support chief for athletics - replacing Randa Ryan - is approaching its final stages.
The search is being handled by search firm Witt/Kieffer.
Officials at other schools expressed surprise to HD that UT is using a search firm to help select a new academic support chief for athletics. Those schools wondered if Witt/Kieffer is being used because athletic director Mike Perrin is heading into the final year of his agreement as Texas AD.
(Normally, such a position would be hired by the AD, because the academic support chief for athletics will be reporting to the AD.)
Currently, football academic support is being handled by Brett Wohlers, who was brought to Texas from Ohio State at the recommendation of Tom Herman.
Melanie Chambers is in charge of academic support for basketball.
I continue to hear former West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck, now second in command of the NCAA behind executive director Mark Emmert, will be considered by Texas as the successor to Mike Perrin.
TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte, however, might be too expensive. According to a source close to the situation, Del Conte, who has overseen the renovation of TCU’s entire athletic complex, has a buyout in the neighborhood of $5 million.
D'Shawn Jamison Expects to Pick Between Texas and TCU
Four-star cornerback D'Shawn Jamison has been a key target for Tom Herman's 2018 recruiting class. Jamison keeps in touch with the Longhorns' staff on a consistent basis, and mentioned having a solid relationship with CB coach Jason Washington.
"Texas is Top 2 in my recruitment," Jamison said. "I plan to make my decision in early August and will choose between Texas and TCU."
The No. 12 CB in the nation spoke highly of both Texas and TCU. In addition to his relationship with Gary Patterson, who he said is a straight-shooter type of coach, Jamison mentioned the Horned Frogs signing some of the top 2017 prospects in Texas, QB Shawn Robinson and WR Jalen Reagor, as something that caught his attention.
As for Texas, Jamison has enjoyed his conversations with Coach Washington, who Jamison said has talked a lot of how the UT staff will prepare its players for a career in the NFL, and sets up guys' futures after football ends. Jamison feels comfortable with Washington and Tom Herman, and likes how Herman's intensity can be felt throughout the program.
"He's really intense," Jamison said of the Longhorns' first-year head coach. "I want a coach who tells you when you're wrong and right.
"The reason Coach Herman will fuss at you is because he loves you. Not many coaches will fuss at you (in the recruiting process), they just like to butter you up.
"I can feel (Herman) wants you to make it. He wants you to be great, and that's what I like about Coach Herman."
Jamison does not plan to visit any in-state schools until the start of the football season, but may take a few trips outside of the Lone Star State this summer, though no visits are set in stone.
CASEY THOMPSON HEARING FROM OKLAHOMA STAFF
The Sooners were just one several college football programs to reach out to Thompson immediately following Rising verbally committing to Texas. But even with the added recruiting attention, Thompson said his pledge with the Longhorns remains solid.
"The first day whenever he flipped, everything was going crazy - my text messages, my Twitter - with schools contacting me," said Thompson. "OU was among a list of schools to reach out. But I'm 100-percent committed to Texas and I'm going to continue to recruit for the (2018) class."
Having two quarterback commitments is not common in today's recruiting world. Then again, in the short time covering Tom Herman, I'm not sure the head coach is one to simply follow suit of what is "typical" when it comes to his methods.
Thompson was aware the Longhorns' were potentially going to sign two QBs for added depth, and the Oklahoma native is not afraid of competing with his fellow teammates once he arrives on the 40 Acres.
"It was no surprise to me and I'm not scared of competition, so I just have to be ready to beat out any competition."
Herman and his staff have been in contact with Thompson on an almost daily basis. The four-star QB talks to various staff members multiple times per week, with QB coach Tim Beck being his main contact.
Thompson plans to return to Texas for his fourth visit in "late May or early June" once he finishes up his junior year. In the meantime, the Scout 300 QB has been working hard recruiting on behalf of the Longhorns, and has been in the ear of several top prospects who are teammates of his 7-on-7 tournament team - Fast Houston.
D'Shawn Jamison, Leon O'Neal, Malcolm Epps and Jaylen Waddle are a few recruits on the loaded Fast Houston roster, which recently added four-star Texas commit Caden Sterns. Thompson is utilizing his time with his team to better his game and help add to the Longhorns' 2018 recruiting class.
"Right now, my main goal is to get myself better, focus on school and football, and recruit for this Texas class," Thompson said. "I'm just trying to get them to buy-in and commit to the University of Texas."
JAYLEN WADDLE ONE TO WATCH
From everything I am hearing, Jaylen Waddle is a guy Texas is recruiting hard. Waddle displayed his speed last weekend at the Team Texas Classic, when he helped lead Fast Houston to multiple wins before dropping the championship game.
Waddle is every bit as speedy as his verified 4.52, and quite frankly, at times looked faster when I saw him in person.
The Longhorns staff are going after Waddle, and it sounds like he is listening.