KXAN Sports Director Roger Wallace went one-on-one with UT head football coach Tom Herman. The Longhorns head coach discussed the future of college football during the coronavirus and how Texans have responded to help during the pandemic.
AUSTIN, Texas (Nexstar) — Like every other college football coach across the country, Texas Longhorns head coach Tom Herman is waiting on an unknown picture around college football to become clearer.
“Throughout this week, last week, into next week, there’s a lot of meetings with presidents, athletic directors, doctors on what June first and beyond this is going to look like, but we’ll worry about September when we need to,” Herman said. “Right now i’ts about what are we gonna do on a university level, program level, conference level, national level come June first.”
Certainly, college football isn’t the top priority during a pandemic affecting millions of Americans physically, mentally and financially. However, Herman has used these past several months appreciating the time with his family, supporting Central Texas through several philanthropic endeavors and attempting to keep the football program churning in the right direction during the unique circumstances.
With less than four months before the possible start to the football season, there are small forces around the country moving in the direction of a return to American sports.
“The operative phrase is a little bit,” Herman said to KXAN. “The only thing we’re lacking at this point that we can’t do on a meeting platform. The shared video is a little bit choppy when you’re trying to game plan. It’s just not the same as seeing it live.”
Herman and the Texas football staff were allowed to return to their offices this week. The NCAA announced on Wednesday it will allow small groups of student-athletes from football and basketball programs to return to campus starting June 1 for voluntary workouts.
Herman and the other members of the staff working from the office must pass a thorough wellness checklist before starting their workday. Herman says each staff member must fill out a questionnaire before leaving the house and undergo a thermal body scan before entering the facility.
“From a football standpoint, obviously we want to make sure everybody’s healthy and safe and we’re taking care of all the necessary precautions on that front,” Herman said. “But we also know that if our responses are better, greater more efficient, filled with more love and discipline than our opponents, then we’re going to have a better chance on the other side of this. But it did feel good to get back in the office and it’ll feel, trust me, a whole lot better when we get to see our players in the flesh, for sure.”
UT strength and conditioning coach Yancy McKnight is building the workouts, but the players have been in charge of their own improvement since organized activities ended in the middle of March.
Herman says the players are “holding each other accountable” with Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger as “the tip of the sword.”
“It helps you sleep easier at night, I know that,” Herman said. “We’ve got players with garage gyms, weight rooms, if you will, that guys have kind of rallied around and set up, obviously, within social distancing guidelines. But they’re holding each other accountable. I feel great about the veteran leadership that we have now heading into 2020. And to deal with something this monumental, you feel a lot better when you do have guys like that leading the charge.”
The coaching staff is certainly looking to June 1 as an offseason moment that may start pushing college football back to some sense of normalcy.
Ehlinger is also stepping up off the field to help his community in a time of need. The Austin native, inspired by Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, started a GoFundMe project to assist local charities in their coronavirus relief efforts.
By the middle of April, Ehlinger had already raised over $100,000 for Central Texas organizations.
Herman and his wife, Michelle, have taken on several local causes during the pandemic to help the community. The family donated $10,000 to the Central Texas Food Bank which is helping feed thousands of Central Texas families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Hermans have also donated their time for the Central Texas Food Bank passing out meals at Austin LBJ High School.