Texas head coach Tom Herman has been fired.
The university announced the news on Saturday in a statement. The school said that Longhorns athletic director Chris Del Conte recommended moving on from Herman to president Jay Hartzell.
The news comes just days after Texas trounced Colorado, 55-23, in the Alamo Bowl to finish the 2020 season with a 7-3 record. That win gave Herman a 32-18 record over four seasons, including a 22-13 mark in Big 12 play.
With the move, Texas now owes Herman and his coaching staff $24 million, per Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel.
Below is the university’s statement on the decision:
With our football season coming to a close, our vice president and athletics director, Chris Del Conte, has evaluated the UT program’s strengths and weaknesses and where the program is relative to our goals. While we have made measured progress during the past several years under Tom Herman’s leadership, Chris has recommended to the university president, Jay Hartzell, that UT make a coaching change to get us on track to achieving our ambitious goals. President Hartzell and the chair of our Board of Regents, Kevin Eltife, concur with this recommendation and have approved the change. We thank Coach Herman for his service and dedication to our student-athletes, our program and our university.
Del Conte released a statement of his own Saturday, saying it was a “very, very difficult” decision to fire Herman.
“After much deliberation and a great deal of thought, as I looked back at the totality of where our football program is and in discussing its future, it became apparent that it was in the best interest of the University of Texas to move in a different direction,” Del Conte said.
Back on Dec. 12 (just before the early signing period), Del Conte released a statement that said “Tom Herman is our coach.” When asked for clarification from local reporters, the school indicated that Herman would return in 2021.
“There’s been a lot of speculation about the future of our football coach. My policy is to wait until the end of the season before evaluating and commenting on our program and coaches. With the close of the regular season, I want to reiterate that Tom Herman is our coach,” Del Conte said at the time.
That statement followed weeks of rumors about Texas’ pursuit of former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer. Meyer, however, reportedly informed Texas officials that he was not interested in the job.
A few weeks later, there has been a change of plans and Herman is no longer Texas’ head coach.
Texas often fell short of expectations under Herman
The Longhorns did not win a conference title during his tenure, though they came close in 2018.
UT went 7-6 in Herman’s first season before advanced to the Big 12 title game in 2018. However, that resulted in a loss to rival Oklahoma, the program that has won six consecutive Big 12 championships.
Texas closed out that season by beating Georgia in the Sugar Bowl to get to 10-4. It was a win that created mammoth expectations entering 2019, but the Longhorns underwhelmed with an 8-5 campaign.
The underwhelming play continued in 2020. The Longhorns needed overtime to beat a bad Texas Tech team in Week 2 before dropping back-to-back games to TCU and Oklahoma.
Texas then won its next three games, but ended up losing a pivotal game to Iowa State on Nov. 27. It was a game that would have given Texas a good chance to advance to the Big 12 title game. Instead, the Cyclones scored a late touchdown to win 23-20 to essentially wrap up their own spot in the conference championship game.
Texas closed out the year with blowout wins over Kansas State and Colorado — a win that gave UT a 4-0 bowl record under Herman. Still, it wasn’t enough for the UT brass to bring back Herman for a fifth season.
“I’m grateful for all Coach Herman has done and the hard work and dedication he and his staff have put in on behalf of our program and student-athletes,” Del Conte said. “I thank him for all of his efforts and his service to our institution, and I wish him well in the future.”
Steve Sarkisian lined up?
As soon as Herman’s dismissal was announced, several outlets reported that Texas has its sights set on Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian as its next head coach. 247Sports first reported that UT is targeting Sarkisian.
Sarkisian was the head coach at Washington from 2009 to 2013 and spent parts of two seasons as the head coach at USC in 2014 and 2015. Sarkisian inherited a UW program that went winless the year before he arrived and went 34-29 with four bowl appearances over the course of his five seasons in Seattle.
Sarkisian went 12-6 at USC, where he previously spent several years as an assistant under Pete Carroll. Sarkisian’s time as USC’s head coach came to an abrupt ending in 2015 as he struggled with alcoholism.
From there, Sarkisian landed at Alabama as an offensive analyst. Following a two-year stint as the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons, he returned to Tuscaloosa in 2019 to run the Alabama offense for Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide offense has thrived under Sarkisian over the past two seasons.
This year, he won the Broyles Award, given to the nation’s top assistant coach as he helped Alabama return to the College Football Playoff title game. No. 1 Alabama, which beat Notre Dame in the CFP semifinals on Friday night, will face No. 3 Ohio State in the title game on Jan. 12.
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