Herman will sing “Eyes of Texas” and respect those who don’t

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas coach Tom Herman said Monday he’ll encourage players and staff to sing “The Eyes of Texas” after games, but will respect those who don’t want to join the long-standing school tradition that has become a flashpoint for fans.

The song has become an issue for the Texas program since the summer, when a group of football players and other athletes, made a series of demands to address racial injustice that included ditching the song.

The song has deep traditions on campus and for Texas alumni, but has been criticized in recent years because of its connection to minstrel shows with characters in blackface decades ago.

Herman addressed the post-game song after fan outrage bubbled on internet message boards following Texas’ loss to Oklahoma on Saturday. Most of the team left the field but senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger was conspicuous by staying for the song with Herman and several coaches.

”I’ve encouraged our staff and team to join me in participating after games if they are comfortable doing that. I do believe it’s important that we acknowledge and thank our fans after a hard-fought game. Sam Ehlinger and some of our team did join me in standing with our fans who had cheered so hard and helped us greatly in our comeback against Oklahoma. I applaud them and respect that,” Herman said.

“That said, some members of our program have concerns and aren’t comfortable participating at this time. I respect that as well,” Herman said. “This is an issue we will continue to have meaningful conversations about and will work through.”

Ehlinger is not expected to meet with the media this week as Texas (2-2, 1-2 Big 12) does not play until Oct. 24.

School officials have said the song will stay. Some former players, most notably Heisman Trophy winners Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams, have agreed that it should. School President Jay Hartzell recently announced a special panel will examine the song’s history, but its findings won’t be released until January, well after the football season is over.

Herman said he doesn’t think his team is divided held up the Longhorns’ late rally before losing to Oklahoma in overtime as proof.

“A team that is divided, a team that’s fractured … they don’t play like that,” Herman said. “Teams that play that hard with that much belief are teams that are together.”

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