The Tom Herman head coaching saga is officially over.
Ultimately, the outcome everybody predicted would happen about the time Texas head coach Charlie Strong lost his fourth game of the 2016 football season did happen — Tom Herman, the soon-to-be-former University of Houston head coach and founder of the #HTownTakeover, has been hired as the next head football coach at the University of Texas, multiple sources are reporting, replacing the beleaguered Strong after two seasons in Houston.
An official statement from UT came Saturday:
However, to say the outcome was never in doubt would be a lie. The end didn't come without some last-minute twists and turns that ended up dominating the news cycle over the last two days, beginning with the LSU-Texas A&M game on Thanksgiving night. Shortly before kickoff of that game in College Station, Chip Brown reported that Herman was sitting on an offer from LSU and that the Tigers wanted an answer. This news, which was likely a leak from the Herman camp to get Texas off its collective ass, basically hijacked the entire LSU-A&M game broadcast on ESPN, essentially turning an SEC football game into an infomercial for a Group of Five head coach who would eventually take a job in the Big XII.
By Friday morning, the Herman-to-LSU train had cooled somewhat as the Coogs prepared for an early kickoff in Memphis. Herman was given one last televised chance to deny the rumors before kickoff — no surprise, he denied them, more on this in a minute — and the Coogs went on to lose the final game of the Herman Era, 48-44, on a last-minute touchdown by the Tigers.
Four hours later, the TCU Horned Frogs were putting the finishing touches on a 31-9 win over Texas, effectively ending the Strong era in Austin after three seasons and a school-worst 16-21 record. The clock ticked through the night, and then early this morning, the dominos all fell:
Texas officially fires Charlie Strong— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) November 26, 2016
Texas will hire Tom Herman & announcement expected today @CFBHeather reports— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) November 26, 2016
In looking back at this process, the Herman era and where the University of Houston goes from here, there are winners and losers. Let's break it down in that fashion...
4. Cole Cubelic
Cubelic, a former Auburn football player in the Terry Bowden era and current ABC sideline reporter, got a minute with Herman as the team was entering the locker room in Memphis on Friday, and he asked the former UH head coach point blank — no fewer than FOUR times! — how he was approaching this game considering the churning of the rumor mill. Observe admirable persistence by Cubelic, kids...
If you want me to identify the precise moment when we know with 100 percent certainty that Herman is lying his ass off, I'd say it's the nervous "Sure" after "Absolutely." (Also, Cole, you just made Herman's "no more interviews" list, buddy!) Interviews like this are pretty amazing to go back and watch right after guys change jobs...I mean, Herman is just brazenly lying on national television, and he is FEELING IT.
3. John Lopez
In December 2015, my SportsRadio 610 colleague John Lopez reported that QB Kyle Allen, then still a Texas A&M Aggie, was meeting with a contingent that included Herman. In early January, Allen decided to transfer to Houston, which led to this preachy statement from Herman on journalism ethics...
That preachy tweet, which is dripping with irony now that we've watched Herman's act over the past two days, then begat one of the more bizarre radio segments in the history of the city, when Herman accepted Lopez's invitation to join him and Nick Wright on their morning show, and it degenerated into a whole lot of (very entertaining) screaming. Fast-forward to this past summer, when rumors of Herman's talking to Baylor surfaced, and Lopez took to Twitter to remind the world of the last time Herman was dodging rumors of meetings, a tweet that led to Mrs. Tom Herman's snarky reply...
Four months later, Lopez was finally able to reply and retweet...
A Twitter burn by Lopez, but nothing that can't be healed by rubbing several million dollars per year on it.
Speaking of several million dollars, from the sound of things, Herman's talks with LSU were substantive, but broke down when that became the amount he was demanding in annual salary. LSU walked away from the table at that point, not wanting to get bogged down in a bidding war that it would probably lose eventually anyway. It was then, this morning, that LSU turned to interim head coach and Louisiana native Ed Orgeron for, reportedly, about half of what Herman was demanding per year. According to reports, Orgeron made quite the presentation to the LSU brass...
Ed Orgeron "blew away" #LSU decision-makers in a meeting Friday.— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) November 26, 2016
He brought with him a massive binder detailing long-term plans.
Someday, I hope that "massive binder" is in the College Football Hall of Fame, and that the pages are covered in jambalaya stains and broken English. Have fun with that, LSU!
Why is the Herman-concocted hashtag a "winner" in all of this? I'll get into that in just a second, but let me post Houston AD Hunter Yurachek's statement on Herman's departure first:
Yurachek is 100 percent correct in his assessment of where Houston is on the college football landscape. It is a really good job, the best Group of Five job, with ample support and resources (Uncle Tilman!) to pay a good head coach and make a respectable effort to retain a good head coach. For that, Tom Herman deserves a ton of credit. He changed a culture.
For any UH fan or alum who is lamenting the notion that your program has become some sort of Power Five feeder system for head coaches (Art Briles to Baylor, Kevin Sumlin to A&M, now Herman), know this — if your program is churning out head coaches who are being poached by top programs every two to three years, you probably have one of the winningest programs in all of college football. In other words, as much as today hurts, having your coach thieved every two to three years is not a bad thing to aspire to. It's reality for not just the Group of Five schools, but for about all except maybe 20 or 25 schools that don't qualify as "destination schools." And while being in the Big XII might improve Houston's chances of keeping a Tom Herman-like head coach, the likelihood is that Herman would've left for Texas even if the Cougars were admitted into the Big XII, so don't lose sleep over that. Perhaps, in two or three years, some blue blood wants your next head coach, because that probably means you averaged 10 or 11 wins per season the next few years.
4. OVER 9.5 win backers
Lost in the clutter of off-the-field news over the last two days is the fact that Houston lost ANOTHER football game inside the conference on Friday afternoon, 48-44 to Memphis, in a game where the Coogs came out of the gate, frankly, like a team whose coach was being rumored to leave for another job the next day. So, if you had OVER 9.5 wins for the Coogs — a ticket you probably felt like a lock to cash after the Oklahoma game — go ahead and crumple that bad boy up, and throw it away. (By the way, I think Tom Herman is a good coach and a good hire — that said, it's amazing to think that, based on the head-to-head tie breaker, the Longhorns just hired the coach that finished 4th in his DIVISION of the AAC.)
3. Kyle Allen
As mentioned above, Allen chose to come to Houston from A&M this past winter, presumably to take the reins after Greg Ward's graduation and play in Herman's high-octane offense. It will be interesting to see what happens with him now. Transferring once is one thing. Transferring twice — a move we call the "Tom Savage" — is another thing entirely. The one caveat — Allen is scheduled to graduate early, which means he could transfer and not have to sit out a season... and Herman probably could use a good QB at Texas. This is the next bit of drama that could send Houston fans over the edge. Juicy.
2. This "small faction" of UH supporters...
There is also a small faction that will ask Houston president Renu Khator to consider bringing back Art Briles, sources say— Joseph Duarte (@Joseph_Duarte) November 26, 2016
If you are part of this faction, you really need to re-evaluate your existence. Briles has no business near a collegiate head coaching job ever again. His non-football decisions endangered innocent students, in the name of Baylor football. End of story. What don't you people get?
1. The kids who got sucked in by standard head coach B.S.
Reportedly, Houston's star freshman nose tackle, Ed Oliver, the first five-star recruit in the program's history, reportedly put up a tweet saying, "Why you lie to us coach?" before quickly deleting it. There are several others, though, that made their way onto Twitter and stayed...
@BDJ_RunTellDat The red fans are here to stay for the players.— CrushingHtownCrete (@DevinPriddy) November 26, 2016
wow— 1-0 (@OfficialJerard) November 26, 2016
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fake energy don't move us! pic.twitter.com/Zeiv1ldpGH— Marcus Oliver1k (@LiveLife_73) November 26, 2016
Chance Allen: "He told us straight up (recently) that he’s here with us no matter what. He said he hasn’t negotiated with anybody.”— Joseph Duarte (@Joseph_Duarte) November 26, 2016
Whose house? We'll see.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.