Editor's note: This story was originally published in the Nov. 17 issue of the The Daily Texan about the expected game Saturday. Since then, the game between Texas and Kansas has been rescheduled to Dec. 12.
The Kansas football team has hit a new low this season, even for its standards. With an 0–7 record, the Jayhawks are undoubtedly the worst team in the Big 12 for a second consecutive year.
Still, they could beat No. 22 Texas Saturday when the Longhorns make the trip to Lawrence, Kansas. In Austin last year, Kansas put up 48 points on Texas. The Longhorns squeaked by on the will of Cameron Dicker’s leg, which put the ball between the uprights to give Texas the two-point lead and win.
The 2019 matchup was perhaps the Longhorns’ worst against Kansas since 2016, when Texas lost 21-24 to the Jayhawks in overtime. Charles Omenihu threw his helmet that day in Lawrence and tempers flared. UT fired then-head coach Charlie Strong shortly after.
Suffice it to say, Tom Herman, Strong’s replacement, won’t be sleeping on the Jayhawks this weekend.
“Recent history has shown that we’re going to need to bring our A-game to win the game and do the things that we know that we’re capable of doing,” Herman said in a Monday teleconference.
Rumblings in the Texas fanbase suggest that Herman has been coaching for his job since the Longhorns dropped back-to-back games to TCU and rival Oklahoma in October. If Texas hopes to deliver on the promise of a Big 12 championship, the team has to win out.
And that’s all Herman is concerned about this weekend: winning. Longhorns fans will want a blow out, but Herman said a win is a win.
“A two-point loss to TCU counts the same as a seven-point victory against Oklahoma State,” Herman said.
Ugliness aside, Texas “got the job done” in its previous matchups against the Jayhawks. But if the Longhorns somehow lose to Kansas this weekend, the aftermath could be as catastrophic as the 2016 matchup.
Fed up fans would have all the more reason to call for Herman’s firing and advocate for Texas’ hiring of former Florida and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, a popular candidate among the Longhorn faithful.
Amid all the noise, Herman said he isn’t concerned about his job security.
“No, not at all,” Herman said. “I’m concerned about our players. I’m concerned about this program. I’m concerned about beating Kansas. I’m concerned about all of our goals still being in front of us.”
While Herman said he believes the pandemic-stricken season counts for something since the players are putting their bodies on the line to entertain the masses, he doesn’t think the final record should reflect poorly on coaches.
Games have been canceled left and right, and no one thought the season would still be on into mid-November, Herman said. Not only that, but programs across the country have had to overcome so many obstacles.
Unlike the “vocal minority” who spread rumors about the program, Herman actually knows the truth and so do the players. That’s why he said he feels secure.
“It gets exhausting more than anything to have to extinguish all of these unfounded, baseless claims that are hidden behind unnamed sources and agendas,” Herman said.
The coach said he’s also in good standing with Texas Athletics Director Chris Del Conte, regardless of whether Del Conte tweets as much kudos to the football team as he does other Texas sports.
Herman isn’t listening to the chatter. He has bigger priorities, such as beating Kansas.
“There is no stock placed whatsoever in the tweet count of a 50-year-old man,” Herman said.