The Houston Cougars put the beatdown on the #3 ranked Louisville Cardinals last Thursday and now the “Herman to X” rumor mill is back in full swing and about to get completely wild. Coog fans need to sit back, grab a Brew of H, and watch the chess grandmaster Herman work.
Charlie Strong just lost to Kansas and likely cemented his fate. Kevin Sumlin may soon see the door as well. Kingsbury is possibly out, Waco has an opening, and LSU may or may not decide to retain Coach O. All of these schools are full of completely crazy, arrogant, rich boosters who’ve never been told no in their lives and have nothing better to than to undermine the stability of their football programs and put pressure on their athletic directors to hire Tom Herman. Nevermind that Willie Taggart would be just as good of a hire and is a Jim Harbaugh disciple, every booster has a hard-on for Herman.
The most despicable treatment of a coach is what’s been happening in Austin since 2014. After hiring the first African-American coach in their school’s history, brash and insolent UT booster Red McCombs said Charlie Strong would make a “Great position coach, maybe a coordinator” . This is the same McCombs who bought the Minnesota Vikings in 1998, fired an African-American coach who had gone to the playoffs eight times in ten seasons and replaced him with a white position coach who managed one playoff appearance in five seasons with Randy Moss and Dante Culpepper in their primes. Charlie Strong had just come off two national championships as a coordinator under Urban Meyer at Florida and then guided Louisville to 37 wins in four years, with only 3 losses in his final two seasons, and coached Teddy Bridgewater to get drafted in the NFL. Apparently that wasn’t good enough for the Horns but Herman, with a similar resume, is. The haughty boosters like McCombs have been leaking stories to the media for the past three seasons and they’ve been shamelessly pining for Tom Herman, completely undermining their current team and coach in the process. No wonder they just got beat by Kansas. Will UT continue to recruit well in the future in spite of the instability? Of course. But if you think the families of many young African-American recruits aren’t watching Strong get sandbagged and thinking twice about sending their kids to school in one of the most segregated cities in the state then you probably don’t think Colonel Reb hurt Ole Miss in recruiting for decades. If Herman wants to step into that mess then good luck.
The rumors are now that UT’s contemptuous boosters are pressuring the school to hire Herman before A&M makes the move first. A&M is likely feeling some of the same pressure from their boosters, and I don’t doubt Tech, Baylor, and LSU are all in the same boat. A lot of Houston fans think that all of this talk has been a distraction for the Coogs, but it sure wasn’t against Louisville. If Herman is smart he’s staying mum to get a fat raise from UH, but also to give UT and A&M the false hope that he’s interested in leaving Houston. When Texas fires Strong, and should Sumlin, Orgeron, and Kingsbury be out the door as well, anyone less than Herman taking over their programs will be seen as a major letdown… save for Nick Saban getting bored of Tuscaloosa and heading west. Herman being quiet on his plans seems to be destabilizing those other programs and now is the perfect time for the Coogs to really pounce and takeover the state. Never telegraph your punch. Keep quiet and keep your cards close to the vest.
Of course, there’s a chance Herman is like every other coach who wants to coach at a blue blood program, but there’s also a huge possibility Herman really does want to build a wall around the city of Houston and try to turn the Coogs into the new 1980’s Miami Hurricanes. With TCU being seemingly the only stable P5 program in the region other than the Oklahoma schools, now is the perfect time for Herman to stay at Houston and push the Coogs program to the next level. Ed Oliver, Colin Wilder, and D’Eriq King are all true freshmen and will be even better as sophomores next fall. King, Kyle Allen, Kyle Postma, and Bowman Sells are all back on Cullen Blvd. next fall and will be battling to be the next legendary Cougar quarterback once Greg Ward Jr. graduates. The Coog program doesn’t need rebuilding like those other schools that have openings. Just imagine Herman with another year of recruiting under his belt and what the true freshman of 2017 will do on the field. I’ll say it again: Ed Oliver is not an outlier, he’s the beginning of a flood of four and five stars to UH.
One of the benefits of coaching at Houston is, as UH Hall of Fame coach Bill Yeoman always said, “You can swing a dead cat by its tail in Houston and hit 10 Division I football players.” Herman and his staff have the benefit of being the hip, up-and-coming football program in the region and every top recruit in the Houston area and in the Gulf Coast region is keeping their eye on the Coogs. Herman and staff can do all of their recruiting within 100 square miles of Houston and still be home for dinner, as Herman has mentioned several times. Herman has also mentioned how he’s moved his family a lot already over the years and, being that Tom and his wife Michelle have three young children, he would hate to uproot his family to a new town and put his kids in a new school. There also really isn’t another program in the region that has the stability of UH. Why would a high school player want to go to Waco, Austin, College Station, or Baton Rouge right now with all of the lack of stability in their coaching staffs? Stay home, play in front of your friends and family, and win some big-time football games even as a G5. The other huge benefit is Houston is in the prime position to be the top transfer destination to all of the kids from Houston who want to transfer back closer to home. If a kid from Katy heads to Oregon and gets homesick, why not come back and play at UH and be close to mom and dad?
If Tom Herman is that good of a coach then there will be plenty of blue-blood openings for him in the future should he be so inclined. There will always be impatient ADs and boosters. The Coogs are in the perfect position to ride the hot hand of a new quarterback in 2017 and for Oliver and the Third Ward D to shutdown opponents like they did Louisville last week. The Coogs could run the table in 2017 and sneak into the playoffs. If they do, Herman will be considered an absolute legend in college football, especially if they can pull off an upset or two. If he goes to Austin and goes 6-6 once or twice while taking the time to rebuild the program, fans will be calling for his head. Why deal with that? Everyone expects Herman to leave which is why I’m not convinced he will. To really be a legend you have to go against the grain, to march to a different beat, to see things no one else sees. If everyone agrees with you, you’re not a visionary you’re just a follower. Nick Saban can win a lot of national titles at Alabama but it would’ve been more impressive if he would’ve taken a program with less history and made them a power, like a Kentucky or Iowa State. Most people have to think you’re crazy to be a visionary and the thought of Tom Herman building the Coogs into the new Miami is crazy to most people which is why it may just happen. Either way, I’m just thankful our program is good enough for people to think our coach is even worthy of poaching. Happy Thanksgiving!