By: Garret Heinrich (@GarretHeinrich) [EDITOR'S NOTE: SHAUN BIJANI HAS WRITTEN A REBUTTAL TO THIS PIECE: 5 REASONS TOM HERMAN WILL STAY AT UH]
We need to have a hard conversation with Houston Cougar football fans. Tom Herman is leaving the University of Houston. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday. It’s going to happen at some point. Many Houston Cougars fans understand that. Their school is a stepping stone for coaches to get better jobs (see: Art Briles, Kevin Sumlin). And Tom Herman is a great coach. He’s going to get a better job.
And while some people hope Herman decides to become a lifetime member at UofH it is more than likely not going to happen. However, he could end up having a good run with the school instead of a couple of years and done like it might be.
The best thing that can happen for UofH to retain Herman for a good long while is a move to the Big 12. If that gets announced (possibly soon) it could give Herman four to five more years at the helm of Cougar football. But if that doesn’t happen he will more than likely bolt in the next one to two years. Herman is a great coach and I think he wants to be the best coach in college football at the best program. That is never going to be the University of Houston (the best program part). But rarely will a coach go from a non-power five conference to a top program, so Herman would need a stepping stone or a few years dominating in a power five conference.
If the Big 12 accepts Houston into the fold Tom Herman should wait with Houston as long as it takes to get one of these nine jobs. It wouldn’t be terrible for him to stay with Houston until he can get one of these anyway, but I don’t see that happening unless the Cougs get into the Big 12.
Some of these programs might not have an opening for a while, but if he wants to wait for one of these schools specifically I wouldn’t blame him.
(First Four Out: Oregon, Auburn, Georgia, Texas A&M)
Current Coach: Jimbo Fisher
National Titles Since 1998 (BCS ERA): 2
The Seminoles are a team that probably won’t be getting rid of Jimbo Fisher anytime soon, but it’s a job that Herman would do very well in. He would recruit the hell out of Florida and in the ACC he would dominate everyone (even Clemson). His ability to pair high powered offense with high flying fast exciting defenses would draw kids there (as would the amazing student body).
Current Coach: Les Miles
Nationals Titles Since 1998: 2
Now this is a job that could easily be open next year, or in two years or never. We never know what is happening in Death Valley. They seem to love and hate Miles depending on how he did against Auburn or Alabama or whatever team they decide they want to compare to that week. But LSU is a great program for Herman. He would be able to still recruit Houston, where he has made great waves locally, and he would be in the SEC West where all you have to do is lose once all year and you will get a place in the College Football Playoff.
Current Coach: Clay Helton
National Titles Since 1998: 0 (2004 was taken away from them for Reggie Bush issues)
The only west coast team Herman should even consider. Even schools like Stanford and Oregon that have been very good aren’t quite on the level of USC in prestige and ability to be a championship contender year in and year out. I don’t know who Clay Helton is (WikiUPDATE: He played and coached for the Cougars!). He has the easiest job this season in football; following Steve Sarkisian’s drunken exit. He also seems like the perfect fit for a guy to right the ship at USC and get them back on the map just before being let go so the Trojans can make a big-time play at a big time coach, like Tom Herman.
Current Coach: Jim McElwain
National Titles Since 1998: 2 (without Urban Meyer: 0)
Florida is up on the list because the coach could be gone sooner than LSU (but LSU is a better job IMHO). If McElwain has a couple of years (don’t win the SEC East) he could be out. Just like FSU it’s a great place for Herman to recruit a hotbed of talent. It would also be a great spot for him because he would have the easier road to the the SEC championship game every year. And if you win the SEC, you are in a place to win a National Title. Plus this trajectory would look a lot like his mentor, Urban Meyer.
Current Coach: Brian Kelly
National Titles Since 1998: 0
The Fighting Irish haven’t won a title since 1988. That doesn’t matter. They are Notre Freaking Dame. If the Irish come calling you take that job. You play on your own network. You breed NFL talent and you make your own schedule every year. Kelly has done a great job in South Bend, but things can turn quickly with a few bad seasons. If that job opens up Tom Herman would bolt Houston for it in no time (despite the obvious weather downgrade.)
Current Coach: Bob Stoops
National Titles Since 1998: 1
This would really dig at the ire of Cougars fans, (rightfully so, it’s OKLAHOMA!) but this job is a great job and Herman would clean up in Norman. He’d be a king if at all successful. However, as are the two of the three other jobs on this list, this job is Stoops to call an end to. It would take a long hard fall from grace for Stoops to be fired (not forced out, but FIRED) from Oklahoma. Herman might wait a while playing Stoops and the Sooners in Big 12 Title games before he takes over this position.
Current Coach: Nick Saban
National Titles Since 1998: 4
The only way Herman gets this job is if he gets Houston into the Big 12, wins 2 or more Big 12 titles and then Saban decides he wants to try his hand at the NFL again. Saban is second in the hierarchy of people in Alabama (right behind Jesus) and I doubt he leaves anytime soon. Herman can be a candidate though if he continues to be successful with the Cougars. Who wouldn’t want the Alabama job though? Les Miles, maybe?
Current Coach: Urban Meyer
National Titles Since 1998: 2
Urban Meyer could leave Ohio State. He’s done it once in Florida after winning two titles. If Meyer gets sick of coaching, or worried about his health or the itch for the NFL (doesn’t seem like it) Herman might actually pick up the phone and call the Buckeyes before they could reach out to him. Herman is from Cincinnati, so OH-IO is a bit in his blood. He also has a 2014 National Championship with the Buckeyes as the offensive coordinator. That job got him the head coaching job in Houston and it would be the right turn to return and take over for Meyer.
Current Coach: Charlie Strong
National Titles Since 1998: 1
The Longhorns top this list because of a multitude of reasons:
1. Charlie Strong is on the hot seat. Another mediocre year for Texas and he is probably fired and out of Austin.
2. It would fit with the Houston Coaching tree spreading to other Texas schools.
3. Herman has a great foothold in recruiting for the state of Texas and this would only make him stronger.
4. He wouldn’t even need to be in the Big 12 for the fan base to get behind the hire it.
5. Herman’s coaching pedigree already has brought him through Texas where he was a graduate assistant for Mack Brown
6. It would add to his state of Texas coaching train. (Herman coached at Texas Lutheran, Sam Houston State, Texas State, Rice and Houston)
Let’s be honest. He’s probably ending up there but one of these nine programs should be his goal, especially if he can be successful at UofH in the Big 12 for a few years.