College football reporter Brett McMurphy denied a report that said Tom Herman was the tipster who helped kick off his reporting on the ongoing scandal at Ohio State:
For those who have asked for my response to Jeff Snook’s claim Saturday: “I have never revealed my sources in my nearly four decade journalistic career I am not going to start now. However, I will say unequivocally that Tom Herman was not my source.”
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) August 11, 2018
Tom Herman also denied it:
Via spokesman, Texas coach Tom Herman tells me about the Jeff Snook story: “It is absolutely untrue. Neither I, nor anybody in my family, has ever communicated with Brett McMurphy about the situation at Ohio State.” 1/2
— Brian Davis (@BDavisAAS) August 11, 2018
Tom Herman’s wife, Michelle, also said:
Longtime Ohio State and college football writer Jeff Snook reported earlier on Facebook:
I have confirmed that Texas Coach Tom Herman was the tipster who initiated Brett McMurphy’s reporting, which led to this investigation at Ohio State-details to follow
Some of those details: Snook reports that Herman was angry at Ohio State after losing a recruiting battle and has helped pay legal fees for a fired Ohio State assistant’s wife:
Texas Coach Tom Herman, a former Ohio State assistant coach, tipped sports reporter Brett McMurphy to details of the Zach Smith-Courtney Carano Smith relationship that led to Smith’s firing, Urban Meyer’s paid-administrative leave and the investigation that has currently engulfed the Buckeyes’ program, several sources told me.
Furthermore, Tom and wife Michelle Herman encouraged Courtney Smith to go public with her claims that her ex-husband had physically abused her, sources say.
“They wanted Zach Smith fired,” one source said. “They had some dirt on him and wanted him off of Ohio State’s staff.”
The Hermans have even helped pay for Courtney Smith’s legal fees, two of my sources told me.
Tom Herman’s motive?
Herman was furious after five-star receiver Garrett Wilson committed to Ohio State in April over Texas, sources say. Wilson played at Austin (Texas) Lake Travis High, just miles from the Longhorns’ campus. Zach Smith was the Buckeyes’ primary recruiter in getting Wilson’s commitment.
Tom Herman responded to the claim about Courtney Smith’s legal fees:
Snook says Urban Meyer’s wife, Shelley, sent this statement:
“I really do appreciate you doing your job with integrity and checking on all the points, unlike some others,” Shelley said, via text Saturday afternoon. “I just can’t comment and I am very sorry. Thank u.” So far, attempts to reach the Hermans have been unsuccessful. Tom Herman is currently in the middle of coaching the Longhorns during summer camp.
McMurphy, via reporting published on his own Facebook page, has been the first to break a lot of news about the story of abuse allegations against former Ohio State receivers Zach Smith and Urban Meyer’s decision to fire Smith in July, only once the story went public.
Herman was Ohio State’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach under Meyer from 2012 to 2014. He worked on the same offensive staff as Zach Smith.
Anonymous sources are common in reporting about alleged athletic department misconduct, as sources fear retribution for speaking out. McMurphy’s reporting on Ohio State has drawn heavily on public records and multiple on-the-record interviews, including with Courtney Smith, Zach Smith’s ex-wife who has accused him of serial abuse.
McMurphy recently explained to Deadspin how he got started on the story in July:
I heard Zach Smith had some domestic violence issues so I did a public records request in Florida and Ohio and found information that hadn’t been reported. I found it out on the Friday before Big Ten Media Days.
It’s not clear how Snook has reached the conclusion that Herman was the tipster.
Snook recently reported on an argument made by Zach Smith’s mother against the notion that he’d abused Courtney Smith. That reporting, if true, calls into question why Meyer fired Zach Smith in the first place — something the head coach hasn’t answered.
Herman commented on the Ohio State situation in early August:
“The things that occurred, to my knowledge, happened in late 2015,” Herman said, noting he’d already left the school for the head coaching job at Houston.
“I really don’t think it’d be fair or appropriate … for me to comment about a situation in another program that happened while I wasn’t there.”
A reporter asked Herman if he’d known of allegations against Smith while he was at Ohio State, and what he’d done if he had learned of them.
“Again, it’s always been my policy to not comment on another program,” Herman said.
Meyer and Herman had a brief dustup in the press in 2017, after Meyer accused Herman of shirking blame for his team losing a season opener against Maryland. Ohio State has been active recruiting Texas and has been in high-profile player battles with the Longhorns.