Houston Cougar head coach Tom Herman chats with the media after practice last Wednesday night.
Houston Cougar head coach Tom Herman chats with the media after practice last Wednesday night.
John Royal

UH's Tom Herman Seeks to Rally the Fans

There’s a bell for UH players to ring at practice. If they’re feeling tired or feeling like they need a break, then all they have to do is ring the bell. There’s just one issue, of course. If that bell is rung, then the player has to take off his helmet and pads and turn in his gear. That’s the way new head coach Tom Herman is doing things with the Cougars. He sees ringing the bell as quitting, and he doesn’t want any quitters on his football team.

This is part of a new attitude around UH football. Herman’s trying to win over the student population, to get them excited about what their classmates are doing on the field. He wants a team that does the UH student body proud. He wants the players realizing they represent UH, not themselves, not just the team, but the entire school.

“I think the student body here is yearning for something to rally around, and we have certainly tried our best to make them feel included,” Herman told the Press last week. “We say it all of the time. We play for them. It’s not the other way around. We’re merely a representation of them every Saturday, so they motivate us quite a bit in terms of our preparation. Hopefully we’ll have an unbelievable turnout and get this stadium rocking and it’ll be the home field advantage that it should be.”

Tom Herman is seemingly everywhere as Houston readies for a new football season. He’s on television. He’s on the radio. He’s making personal appearances. He’s doing everything he can to sell the UH brand, not just to the student body but to improve the awareness about the Cougars with average college football fans. And when he’s not doing that, there’s the rest of his job, that whole coaching a football team thing.

“I think in today’s day and age, it’s a big part of what we do as head coaches,” Herman said. “We are the ambassadors of our program, so to speak. We have to, especially in a large metropolitan area, be visible and to let the public know who we are and what we plan to do.”

TDECU Stadium might be empty now, but Herman's hoping that it's packed with fans and students when the new season kicks off.
TDECU Stadium might be empty now, but Herman's hoping that it's packed with fans and students when the new season kicks off.
John Royal

What the Cougars plan to do, of course, is to win some football games, because there’s nothing that generates excitement and fan interest like winning football games. It’s also something to which Herman, as offensive coordinator at Ohio State, has become accustomed. This is Herman’s first stop as a college head coach, but he’s ready to get on with winning football games at TDECU Stadium.

“I think I rest a lot easier because I hired such an unbelievably talented and experienced staff,” Herman said. “So that certainly helps me put my head down on the pillow. The thing that keeps me up at night is just making sure we’re ready in the game. The kids will be motivated. The plays will be executed. It’s did I do my job as a head coach getting them ready for the different situations? Did we cover a sky kick with our kickoff return team. Did we teach the punt team what to do when we’re missing a guy and only have ten on the field. Just little stuff like that that’s bound to pop its head up in a game, that is my job to make sure we’re ready for.”

It’s just under two weeks until the season gets started for the Coogs, with UH hosting Tennessee Tech at TDECU Stadium. Herman and his staff are going to stop prepping the team for that game this week as the players join the rest of the UH populace in getting back to classes.

“The neat thing is we start school [today],” he said. “That gives us pretty much two weeks and we can almost have a mock game week of preparation. We’ll play our mock game Friday night and come back the following week and [get ready for next week’s game].”

Tom Herman’s everywhere, trying to generate excitement about the UH program. He wants the student body engaged; he wants the fans paying attention and showing up. Now he’s just got to get the team ready to go, and none of those players better ring that bell, not if they plan on playing football this year. 

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