Oct 5, 2019; Morgantown, WV, USA; Texas Longhorns helmets sit in the tunnel at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Texas pauses practice due to COVID-19 protocols

Texas has paused spring football practice because of COVID-19 protocols.

A school statement said players will take part in virtual meetings on Thursday and that practices “will not take place for the next several days.”

Spring practice began Tuesday under first-year head coach Steve Sarkisian. The Longhorns finished 7-3 last season but fired coach Tom Herman, who had a 32-18 record over four seasons.

The Orange-White spring game remains tentatively scheduled for April 24.

Tennessee, Duke and Ohio State are among the teams to have halted football activities in recent weeks because of COVID-19 protocols.

–Field Level Media

Dec 29, 2020; San Antonio, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns mascot Bevo XV during the Alamo Bowl against the Colorado Buffaloes at the Alamodome. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

UT committee: ‘Eyes of Texas’ not racist; students shouldn’t have to sing

Sep 13, 2020; Jacksonville, Florida, USA;  Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Cam Robinson (74) protects the line from the rushing Indianapolis Colts defensive end Justin Houston (50) during the second half at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

A committee established by the University of Texas to study the “Eyes of Texas” released its findings Tuesday, concluding the song is not racist but said students and student-athletes should not be forced to sing the lyrics.

The school song played at athletic events by the university band and established as a tradition by the Longhorns was protested by Black players during the 2020 football season. Head coach Tom Herman, who was fired, refused to demand players participate in singing the song on the field, per tradition, after concerns were raised about the song, released in 1903.

Texas athletic boosters roundly and vocally rejected the notion that the song might have racist undertones and questioned Herman’s decision to clear players from participating.

The committee said there should be no requirement for students to sing the song. That runs counter to a directive established in October, when UT athletic director Chris Del Conte met with players and laid out expectations for all athletes to remain on the field and stand to “honor the fans” while the song was played. He did not mandate they sing along.

According to the committee’s findings, the song was not written with racist intent. The report does accept, however, the first public performance was likely by performers in blackface during a minstrel show in 1903.

“These historical facts add complexity and richness to the story of a song that debuted in a racist setting, exceedingly common for the time, but, as the preponderance of research showed, had no racist intent,” the report summary reads. “‘The Eyes of Texas’” should not only unite us, but hold all of us accountable to our institution’s core values.”

Longhorn Network aired an interview Tuesday with school president Jay Hartzell who said he hopes the committee’s findings can bring more honest conversation on the topic.

“The hope is that everybody will use this report as an opportunity to come forward with the same fact base and be able to have more conversations, certainly including with our student-athletes,” Hartzell said.

When asked if the song has racist undertones, Hartzell said: “For me, the song itself doesn’t. But it certainly was present at different times where those undertones existed. You go back to thinking about its first performance in 1903 at a minstrel show. I mean, you cannot deny that that performance has the racial undertones and overtones, if you will. Hateful things. But on the other hand, if you look at the way, to me, the song was composed, written and designed … it was not designed for that.”

–Field Level Media

Dec 29, 2020; San Antonio, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns head coach Tom Herman is being interviewed during the first half against the Colorado Buffaloes at Alamodome. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Bears add ex-Texas coach Tom Herman to staff

The Chicago Bears added former Texas Longhorns head coach Tom Herman to their staff on Monday.

Herman’s title is “offensive analyst/special projects.”

Herman, 45, guided Texas to a 7-3 record in 2020 and a 32-18 record over four seasons.

He led the Longhorns to four straight bowl wins, including a 55-23 victory against Colorado in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio on Dec. 29.

Four days later, Herman was fired and replaced by former Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.

Herman guided the Houston Cougars to a 22-4 record and two bowl appearances from 2015-16 before taking over in Austin. He also served as the offensive coordinator at Ohio State (2012-14), Iowa State (2009-11), Rice (2007-08) and Texas State (2005-06).

–Field Level Media

Oct 5, 2019; Morgantown, WV, USA; Texas Longhorns helmets sit in the tunnel at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Texas lands five-star QB prospect Maalik Murphy

Five-star quarterback Maalik Murphy announced he will play at Texas, giving new coach Steve Sarkisian his first major commit in the Class of 2022.

Murphy is ranked as the No. 2 pro-style quarterback and the No. 30 player in the nation by the 247Sports composite. The 6-foot-5 prospect from Gardena, Calif., had offers from about 30 teams across the nation, including Alabama, Florida, Oregon and Southern California.

“I feel like I will be able to succeed at the highest level playing at the University of Texas with a man like Coach Sark by my side calling the plays,” Murphy told ESPN. “Putting me in the best position to showcase my talent and prepare me for the next level.”

Murphy’s words must ease some of the wounds at Texas, which previously held the commitment of Quinn Ewers, the nation’s top-ranked player. The Longhorns thought they were set at quarterback when Ewers committed to the team last Oct. 14, only to see him decommit less than three months later.

Ewers, from Southlake, Texas, since flipped to Ohio State.

–Field Level Media

Oct 6, 2018; Dallas, TX, USA; Former Texas quarterback Vince Young enters the stadium before an NCAA college football game between Texas and Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas, on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018. Mandatory Credit: Nick Wagner-USA TODAY NETWORK

Vince Young returns to Texas as special assistant

Vince Young is headed back to work for the Texas Longhorns athletic department program, less than two years after the school fired the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback who led the school to its last national title.

Young, who is in the College Football Hall of Fame, announced on social media that he was hired by new coach Steve Sarkisian to work as a special assistant to athletic director Chris Del Conte. Young’s responsibilities and compensation haven’t been made public, per reports.

Young led the Longhorns to the national championship in 2006 when he rushed for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter against Southern California, where Sarkisian was an assistant under Pete Carroll.

Young, 37, was an All-American at Texas, where he went 30-2, throwing for 6,040 yards and 44 touchdowns and rushing for 3,127 yards and 37 scores in three seasons. He’s one of six players in school history to have his number retired.

He was taken third overall by the Tennessee Titans in the 2006 draft. He threw for 8,964 yards and 46 touchdowns and 51 interceptions and rushed for 1,459 yards and 12 touchdowns over six seasons — five with the Titans and a final one with Philadelphia.

However, he filed for bankruptcy in 2013, despite signing a five-year deal worth $58 million — including more than $25 million guaranteed — as a rookie for the Titans.

Upon retiring, Young returned to Texas to work as a development officer in the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement and as a contributor for the Longhorn Network. But he was fired in 2019 for not doing his job well and being arrested multiple time on drunken-driving charges.

Sarkisian, who had spent the past two years at Alabama as the offensive coordinator under coach Nick Saban, was hired by Texas last month to replace Tom Herman, who was dismissed after going 32-18 in four seasons.

–Field Level Media

Nov 21, 2020; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama Offensive Coordinator Steve Sarkisian walks the field before the Kentucky game at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mickey Welsh/The Montgomery Advertiser via USA TODAY Sports

Texas lands 4-star RB Jaydon Blue

Four-star Houston running back Jaydon Blue announced Tuesday that he has committed to the Texas Longhorns as part of the Class of 2022.

Blue is the fourth best RB in the class and the 60th best recruit overall, according to the 247Sports’ composite rankings. Blue hails out of Klein Cain in Houston.

“I will be committing to the University of Texas,” Blue posted.

Blue chose the Longhorns over Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Oklahoma, Ohio State and Texas A&M, among others.

Blue joins four-star commits Jaylon Guilbeau and Armani Winfield as part of new coach Steve Sarkisian’s class.

–Field Level Media

Oct 3, 2020; Austin, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns running back Keaontay Ingram (26) stiff arms TCU Horned Frogs safety La'Kendrick Van Zandt (20) in the 4th quarter in a NCAA college football game  at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ricardo B. Brazziell-USA TODAY Sports

Ex-Texas RB Keaontay Ingram transfers to Southern California

Former Texas starting running back Keaontay Ingram announced Tuesday that he has transferred to Southern California.

Ingram entered the transfer portal earlier this month after rushing for 1,811 yards and 11 touchdowns and catching 67 passes for 515 yards and six scores in three seasons with the Longhorns.

Ingram rushed for 250 yards and one touchdown and caught 11 passes for 103 yards and score in four games in 2020. He sustained an ankle injury against Oklahoma State on Oct. 31 and missed the rest of the season.

Ingram expressed appreciation to the Texas fans while announcing his move to USC.

“Thank you to all the people who has helped me along the way with this decision!” Ingram wrote on Twitter. “… To Longhorn nation, I want to say thank you and love you all and bleeding orange will forever be part of me!!!!”

Ingram rushed for 708 yards and a freshman in 2018 and followed up with a career-best 853 in 2019.

–Field Level Media

Jan 11, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA;  Alabama offensive lineman Chris Owens (79), Alabama offensive lineman Seth McLaughlin (56), Alabama offensive lineman Landon Dickerson (69) and Alabama offensive lineman Darrian Dalcourt (71) wait in the tunnel with Alabama offensive line coach Kyle Flood before the College Football Playoff National Championship in Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Texas will hire Alabama’s Kyle Flood as OC

Kyle Flood reportedly is following Steve Sarkisian from Alabama to Texas.

Flood, the offensive line coach for the national champion Crimson Tide, will join Sarkisian’s staff in Austin as offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, ESPN reported Wednesday night.

Sarkisian was hired by Texas to be its new head coach earlier this month, but he didn’t leave his job as Alabama’s offensive coordinator until after the Crimson Tide routed Ohio State 52-24 on Monday in the College Football Playoff national championship game at Miami Garden, Fla.

Per ESPN, Sarkisian is expected to call the plays for the Longhorns.

Flood has worked under Sarkisian in each of the past four years. In 2017 and ’18, Sarkisian was the Atlanta Falcons’ offensive coordinator and Flood was the club’s assistant offensive line coach. The past two years, Flood handled offensive line duties for Sarkisian and head coach Nick Saban in Tuscaloosa.

Flood, 49, was the head coach at Rutgers from 2012-15. He produced a 27-24 record and three bowl appearances in his four seasons.

Before leading the Scarlet Knights, Flood was a Rutgers assistant coach from 2005-11 following assistant-coaching stints at C.W. Post, Hofstra and Delaware.

The Longhorns went 7-3 in the just-concluded season, including a 55-23 rout of Colorado in the Alamo Bowl. Tom Herman, who went 32-18 as Texas’ head coach, including a 4-0 bowl record in his four seasons on the job, was fired Jan. 2.

–Field Level Media

Nov 27, 2020; Austin, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns quarterback Sam Ehlinger (11) keeps the ball for yards and runs past Iowa State Cyclones defensive end Eyioma Uwazurike (58) in the fourth quarter at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Texas QB Ehlinger declares for NFL draft

Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger announced Sunday that his college career is over and he will enter the NFL draft.

Ehlinger’s decision comes one day after the Longhorns fired coach Tom Herman and replaced him with Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.

“I want to think Longhorn Nation for this incredible ride,” Ehlinger said in a video posted on Twitter. “… I now know that it’s time for me to go to the NFL. It is my highest hope that I make all of your proud in the next chapter of my football career.”

Ehlinger finishes his Texas career ranked second in passing yards (11,436) and passing touchdowns (94). Colt McCoy is the program leader in both categories — 13,253 yards and 112 touchdowns from 2006-09.

This season, Ehlinger passed for 2,566 yards and 26 touchdowns against five interceptions in 10 games. He also rushed for 377 yards and eight scores.

Ehlinger rushed for 1,907 yards and 33 touchdowns during his career.

Texas said Ehlinger has accepted an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl on Jan. 30.

–Field Level Media

Dec 29, 2020; San Antonio, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns running back Bijan Robinson (5) tries to stay in bounds as he records a first down against the Colorado Buffaloes defense in the first quarter at the Valero Alamo Bowl at the Alamodome. Mandatory Credit: Ricardo B. Brazziell /American-Statesman-USA TODAY Sports

No. 20 Texas blows out Colorado in Alamo Bowl

Bijan Robinson ran for 183 yards and a score and caught two touchdown passes to help No. 20 Texas to a dominating 55-23 win over Colorado on Tuesday in the Valero Alamo Bowl in San Antonio.

The win was marred by a right shoulder injury that forced Longhorns record-setting quarterback Sam Ehlinger out of the game for the second half. Ehlinger, a senior, passed for 160 yards and a touchdown in what is likely his final appearance for Texas.

Casey Thompson, Texas’ backup quarterback, threw four scoring passes — two to Joshua Moore, covering 13 and 25 yards in the third quarter, and a 23-yard strike to Robinson and a 73-yard bomb to Kelvontay Dixon in the fourth.

Thompson, who had four completions all season, ended up 8 for 10 for 170 yards before being lifted with 10 minutes to play. His four touchdown passes tied an Alamo Bowl record for a game.

The Longhorns, who outgained Colorado 638-378, have won bowl games in all four of coach Tom Herman’s years at the helm.

Texas (7-3) ended the year with victories in five of its final six games after losing to TCU and eventual Big 12 Conference champion Oklahoma in back-to-back weeks in early October. The Longhorns’ three losses in the pandemic-influenced 2020 season were by a combined 13 points.

Colorado (4-2) was led by backup quarterback Brendon Lewis’ 168 total yards (95 passing and 73 and a touchdown on the ground) and Jarek Broussard’s 82 yards and two scores rushing.

The Buffaloes, the surprise team of the Pacific 12 Conference, lost their final two games.

Texas got an 8-yard touchdown run from Robinson to cap its first possession. Robinson added to the lead with a 14-yard screen pass touchdown from Ehlinger at the 5:28 mark of the first quarter, after his 50-yard run set the table two plays earlier.

Colorado pulled to within seven points via a determined fourth-down run for a 2-yard score by Broussard with 6:58 to play in the second quarter.

Cameron Dicker booted an Alamo Bowl record 53-yard field goal for the Longhorns with 2:07 remaining in the second quarter. The Buffaloes’ Evan Price responded with 40-yard field goal with 43 seconds left in the half.

Dicker added a 35-yard field goal with 3:33 to play in the third quarter, just before Broussard’s 3-yard touchdown run.

–Field Level Media