Saturday morning the University of Texas finally made public the news many expected to hear days ago, announcing that they had dismissed head football coach Charlie Strong. In three seasons in Austin Strong, who successfully rebuilt Louisville’s program and was hired to replace the retired Mack Brown in 2014, went 16-21 which represents the worst three-year stretch in the history of Texas football. And with Texas finishing the season with a 5-7 record, this is the first time since the 1992 and 1993 seasons that the Longhorns have failed to gain bowl eligibility in consecutive seasons.
Shortly after it was announced that Strong was relieved of his duties, reports began to surface that Texas was closing in on current Houston head coach Tom Herman to fill the vacancy. Herman’s been a hot name on the coaching carousel, and earlier this week it was assumed that LSU would beat Texas to the punch and finalize that hire. But LSU ultimately removed Ed Orgeron’s interim tag, opening the door for Texas to hire Herman. Here’s what you need to know about Herman’s career and family.
1. Texas officially named Herman their head coach Saturday afternoon
According to a report by Heather Dinich of ESPN.com, Texas made its decision to hire Herman as the football program’s new head coach and an announcement would be made at some point in the very near future. Texas did just that Saturday afternoon,
Before Texas made the news official on their end, Houston Board of Regents chairman Tilman J. Fertitta took to Twitter to thank Herman for his work in two seasons at the American Athletic Conference program. Herman led the Cougars to 22 wins and an impressive win over Florida State in last year’s Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta during his time at the school, with the team’s lone defeat in 2015 coming without starting quarterback Greg Ward Jr. (20-17 at UConn).
Also, UH athletic director Hunter Yurachek issued a statement thanking Herman for his work at the school and also naming defensive coordinator Todd Orlando the team’s interim head coach for their upcoming bowl game. Houston will find out their destination and opposition on December 4.
2. Herman was hired by Houston after spending eight seasons as an offensive coordinator
Prior to receiving his first head coaching opportunity at Houston, Herman was an offensive coordinator for eight seasons at four different programs. That run began in 2005 when he was named offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Texas State. Herman’s offenses led the Southland Conference in total offense in both 2005 and 2006 before he moved on to accept the same position at Rice ahead of the 2007 season. His offenses at Rice were also highly productive, breaking 40 school records, and after two seasons there he accepted the offensive coordinator position at Iowa State.
After three seasons in Ames, Herman was hired by Urban Meyer to be the offensive coordinator at Ohio State. Leading an offense that included the likes of quarterback Braxton Miller, Herman was eventually named the winner of the Broyles Award in 2014 that is annually given to the top assistant coach in college football. In mid-December of 2014 Houston and Herman agreed to a five-year deal worth $6.75 million, with Herman remaining with the Buckeyes through the College Football Playoff (which they won) before beginning at Houston full-time.
3. Houston finished the 2016 regular season with a 9-3 record
Herman’s team began the 2016 season with high expectations following a 2015 season in which they won 13 games and soundly defeated Florida State in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl as part of the New Year’s Six. With questions of whether or not they had what it took to earn a spot in this season’s College Football Playoff, the Cougars beat then-No. 3 Oklahoma 33-23 in the season opener for both. Led by quarterback Greg Ward Jr. Houston won its first five games of the season and were ranked as high as sixth in the national polls.
But they ran into trouble in conference play, dropping games to Navy, SMU and Memphis (all on the road) to fall out of contention for a spot in the American Athletic Conference title game. However, Houston did pick up another win over a Power 5 opponent as they blew out then-No. 3 Louisville 36-10 on November 17. Houston finished the regular season 9-3, going 5-3 in conference play. A win in their bowl game would mean consecutive seasons of ten wins or more for Houston for the first time in program history.
4. Per a report, Herman will make a minimum of $5 million per season at Texas
According to Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman, Herman will reportedly make at least $5 million per season on a five-year deal that with bonuses could surpass the $6 million mark. However nothing has been made official by the school regarding the terms of Herman’s contract, with it still needing to be approved by the UT System Board of Regents.
That’s quite the raise for Herman, who last December agreed to a five-year contract extension at Houston that would have paid him an average of $2.8 million per season. That new contract also included a buyout worth $2.5 million if Herman were to leave before its completion. With the increase in pay comes increases in program prestige and pressure to win games with a roster that was young but talented this season.
Of the players on Texas’ depth chart ahead of their loss to Kansas only 13 were seniors (five offense, six defense and two specialists) and true freshmen had more than their share of opportunities to crack the starting lineup as Strong and his staff attempted to rebuild the roster. Things didn’t work out for Strong, with Texas struggling to find consistency both defensively and at the quarterback position. That roster could be just what Herman needs to hit the ground running in his first season in Austin.
5. Herman spent a season at Texas as a graduate assistant in 2000
Herman’s path to one of the top jobs in college football wasn’t a smooth one, as he and wife Michelle started from the ground level and worked their way up. One of the stops during those early, lean years was at Texas where Herman was a grad assistant under Mack Brown. In a story written by Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel earlier this year, it was noted that after nine months in Austin, Michelle returned to southern California to work at a higher paying job and would send money to Tom to help with the rent.
Herman credits his wife when discussing how he was able to go from a a modestly-paid assistant to the hottest name in the college football coaching profession ahead of his return to Austin.
Herman knows the real reason he’s on the cusp of rarest air in coaching. “She’s the rock of our family,” he said of Michelle. “Her support, love and understanding are the main reasons why we are where we are today. None of this would be possible without her.”
Tom and Michelle have three children, one daughter (Priya) and two sons (TD and Maverick).