The Herman file
Current gig: Head Coach, University of Houston
Playing career: Wide receiver at Cal Lutheran from 1993 to 1996.
Bet you didn't know: Has a son named TD and another named Maverick*. Had a cat named Goose, but he died.**
Herman just completed his first season at the helm of the Houston Cougars, leading them to an 11-1 record and a trip to the American Athletic Conference title game this Saturday against Temple. The Cougars notched a 34-0 victory over Vanderbilt, though they also managed to lose to something called UConn. Herman's squad is ranked 8th nationally in scoring offense at 42.0 points per game, and 15th in total offense at 499.3 yards per game. If points are your thing, Herman's your guy. At least at this particular moment.
While he has only one season of head coaching experience (a con in my book), Herman has made the college coaching rounds. He learned under Mack Brown and certifiable offensive genius Greg Davis (now at Iowa) during a two year stint as a graduate assistant at Texas. Herman then two stepped on over to Sam Houston State to serve as wide receivers coach.In Herman's first season at SHS he coached Johnathon Cooper to All-Conference honors. By 2004 the Bearkats were averaging over 350 passing yards and 470 total yards on the way to the 1-AA semifinals.
2005 saw Herman promoted to his first offensive coordinator gig at Texas State (Texas forever, y'all!). Texas State led the Southland Conference in total offense in each of Herman's two seasons there, and again made a semifinal playoff run in 2005. Herman next followed David Bailiff to Rice to rebuild a struggling program in 2007. By 2008 the Owls had surged to a 10-3 record and a Texas Bowl win over Western Michigan. Much of that success was attributable to Herman's tutelage of QB Chase Clement, who developed into a first team All-Conference USA selection, conference MVP, and the school's all-time passing leader. That was one of forty school offensive records broken during Herman's time at Rice.
In 2009 Herman joined the staff at Iowa State as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Even Herman's estimable offensive coaching chops couldn't elevate the Cyclones out of mediocrity, however. In three seasons in Ames his offenses never averaged over 25 points a game, and while the team reached two bowls it never won more than seven games. Why? Because Iowa State, that's why.
But Urban Meyer clearly saw something in Herman that made him think the guy knew what he was doing, as the Ohio State coach brought him to Columbus in 2012 to run the Buckeye offense. And that's where the Tom Herman story really takes off. Herman earned a reputation as a quarterback guru by turning the likes of Braxton Miller, J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones into unstoppable threats. Miller set the school single season total offense record in 2012. A host of other records fell in 2013. And in 2014 the Buckeye offense win a national title with Jones, the third string QB, playing the national title game. Given what Bulldog third stringer Faton Bauta did against Florida you have to admit that's intriguing.
Herman has often relied on running QBs as part of his offense. His "Jet" attack uses run/pass options, Urban Meyer-esque read options, and designed QB draws which take advantage of having 10 blockers on the field. Houston QB Greg Ward for example has run 161 times for an impressive 893 yards. While this is all very interesting at an intellectual level, I have a hard time seeing any signal caller on the Bulldog roster running it effectively. I am also fairly certain that it's not the pro-style offense Jacob Eason signed on for. In other words, there's every reason to think hiring Herman would necessitate a total rebuild of the Bulldog offense, one which might have to wait for parts which we don't have in stock right now. But given the names of the guys he's coached, I have no doubt Herman would find a guy to run his attack. Just not between now and Signing Day 2016.
If Greg McGarity wants to go with an offensive-minded coach he could do much worse than Herman. But there's still no guarantee he can win consistently. Mark Richt won 13 games in his second season in Athens, and look where it got him. Herman was a sound recruiter at Ohio State, and recruited Georgia for the Buckeyes. Heck, his Snowpocalypse 2013 journal remains the stuff of legend. But it would be interesting to see who Herman might bring with him and who (if anyone) he'd retain. As there appear to be no shared connections at all between Herman and the current staff, I'd expect a house-cleaning. Yes, that includes Jeremy Pruitt, who coordinated the top ranked pass defense and 8th ranked overall defense in the nation in 2015. Hey, you want change you get change.
We'll be back later today with more potential candidates and any other breaking news. Until then...
* This is 100% true, and a little disturbing. I like Top Gun as much as the next guy, but cheesy Pete.
**This is the only part of this article that isn't true. At least so far as I know.