Tom Herman caused a little buzz in Austin last week during his pre-spring practice press conference. Most notably, he called a certain position unit fat and out of shape, in a roundabout way. The only reason it caused a buzz is because it wasn’t politically correct, but in my mind it was refreshing to hear.
Herman has plenty of work to do to change the culture of his program, and it seems like he’s trying to do it as quickly as possible. I’ve heard it described as a quick shock in order to create change, and that’s what it seems like. But when you shock the systems like he’s attempting to do, there will be some casualties as a result.
Considering the culture at Texas has been pretty laid back and “soft” the last several years, some of these players are going to have a difficult time adjusting to Herman’s tough love style.
By all accounts, Mack Brown treated his players like his kids or grandkids, and Charlie Strong treated his players like his friends. Tom Herman doesn’t want friends at this stage. He wants football players. And if the most highly recruited player on the roster doesn’t want to put in the work to be a football player, then he has no reservations about letting them know.
This was on display during his press conference last week. The defensive line is expected to be the deepest and strongest position unit in 2017. It was one of the strengths last year and the unit returns a lot of talent. However, Herman called them out as being the weakest unit on the team just last week.
He even went as far as saying the group is out of shape, but somehow he will have to find enough bodies to put together a defensive line, since you can’t play football without one.
Could this just be a motivational ploy by Herman to get into the players’ heads? Or is the group as a whole really that out of shape?
It could be a little bit of both. I would say Herman needs to be more careful with his words, but that would be taking the political road that we’ve come accustomed to with Brown and Strong over the years. Herman is doing things differently to change the attitude and some of the bad habits on the 40 acres, and it’s already growing on me as a fan.
Bad habits are either taught or tolerated, and Herman does neither. The main bad habit among players on this team is thinking they are entitled to something because they wear TEXAS across their chest. Herman has been quick to shut down that notion by simply reminding his team that they’ve gone through three consecutive losing seasons. They have nothing to be entitled about.
Attrition happens every time there is a coaching regime, and there’s going to be some this year throughout spring practices and after the spring game.
This group of players has had a friend as a coach the last few years, so it will be interesting to see how they react to Herman’s demanding coaching style. My guess is his style alone will lead to some attrition from surprising names. And if the defensive line continues to be put on blast, I would expect more than one player to bolt.
The fact that 31 players were invited to the “champions dinner” for completing winter workouts at the highest level is a good sign that players are buying in to the system.
However, spring practice is going to be a different animal by the reports coming out of practice.
Sometimes attrition can be a good thing. I don’t expect Herman to clean house, and I don’t expect double digits with players transferring or being kicked off the team, like we saw at the start of the Charlie Strong era.
I do, however, expect a significant name or two to transfer because of the way Herman coaches. They may transfer because they don’t fit a scheme, or they could just get their feelings hurt. Either way is fine with me.
The point is players are going to leave the program this offseason. And whatever their reason is for leaving is good enough for me.
Herman said he doesn’t know what kind of football team he has yet, because he hasn’t seen them running around in pads long enough yet. After spring break, the pads will come on and that’s when we are going to see who really wants to be here and who will be out the door pretty soon.
I believe Herman will identify the guys who want to play for him and will be able to separate those guys from the rest. Attrition is going to happen, and when it does, it will be a good thing.
E-mail Chase at chase [dot] holik [at] campuspressbox [dot] com and follow him on Twitter @chaseholik88.