Texas football coach Tom Herman on Monday lamented the role that rumors on social media about coaching changes has on recruiting.
Asked during his weekly news conference how he discusses with his team and potential recruits the social media speculation that he will be replaced by Urban Meyer after the season, Herman noted the team "knows the truth" and is unaffected, but that it leaves an impression on prospects.
"When you have the things that have been written about us in our program, myself and our future, very unfounded articles that state opinion as fact, that state unnamed sources as being factual, that's very hard to defend against," Herman said. "Because if I'm a competing recruiter, what do you do? You press print and you say, 'Look, this is true, it must be true. It's on so-and-so orangefans.com, right? It must be true.'"
"And you know that is the really, really hard part in recruiting because these 16-year-old kids are very impressionable."
To date, there have been no known, credible reports published that indicate Herman's job is in serious jeopardy or that Meyer, the current Fox Sports college football analyst and former Ohio State coach who once employed Herman as the Buckeyes' offensive coordinator, is lined up to replace him. It has, however, been a topic of discussion on social media when the Longhorns have struggled, such as following their two-game losing streak in October.
Since then, the Longhorns have won three in a row and will go for a fourth straight win Saturday at Kansas. They still can earn a berth in the Big 12 championship game if they win their final three games, but they haven't quite met the lofty preseason expectations placed upon them this season.
They entered this year ranked 14th in both major polls and were considered a potential College Football Playoff contender, but those hopes were virtually washed away after a 2-2 start.
Herman, in his fourth year at Texas, is 30-17 overall with the Longhorns and made major staff changes this offseason, replacing both coordinators and several other assistants after an 8-5 finish in 2019. Currently, Texas is 5-2 and ranked 22nd in the Associated Press poll.
In late October, Texas did lose a commitment from the No. 1 recruit in the 2022 ESPN 300, Southlake (Texas) Carroll quarterback Quinn Ewers, and that also raised eyebrows.
Herman said when recruits have had questions about such rumors, Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte has offered his phone number so recruits can call him and be assured that Herman is safe.
"You address it with the truth," Herman said. "And when a kid has to be bombarded with all of these rumors and conjecture and agendas passed as fact, you have to provide some semblance of truth. You understand that recruiting is a marathon, it's not a sprint, and you try to provide them with every resource possible in order to get the truth because what they're getting is not the truth.
"You just have to have constant communication, constant hard conversations with these recruits and put them in touch with our players, put them in touch with our administration, put them in touch with the people who actually do know the truth. And at some point, like anything in life, the truth will prevail."
Herman said he is "constantly" assured of his status and is completely aligned with university leadership, but that addressing it with recruits can get bothersome.
"It's exhausting, more than anything to have to extinguish all of these unfounded, baseless claims," Herman said. "And I don't know why it's more here at Texas than other places, but it is and it's something we deal with on a daily basis."