Before KU kicker Matthew Wyman made the 25-yard field goal that effectively ended Charlie Strong’s coaching tenure with the University of Texas (UT), there had already been heavy chatter that the Longhorns were pursuing the head coach of the University of Houston, Tom Herman. The Herman rumors caused a wave of burnt orange euphoria and, as a diehard UT fan, were music to my ears.
At the same time, there is a case to be made that Herman should not make the jump to one of the top three Division One coaching jobs. it can be argued, instead, that he should remain at the University of Houston.
- 1) Forget the Bidding War. Money Is Apparently “No Object.”
On Monday, a top school official at Houston was publicly quoted as saying, “”I do not fear a bidding war for Tom.” And even more bluntly, he went on to comment, ”We’re not going to lose him over money.”
In general, the taxpayer money shelled out to college coaches is absurd. The highest paid employee in the state of Florida is Jimbo Fisher, coach of Florida State. He makes $5.15 million per year. In addition, most coaches have buyout clauses built into their contracts. These clauses stipulate that if said coach is fired, he will receive a lump sum payment. For example, if (more likely when) Charlie Strong is fired, he will receive a $10 million dollar lump sum payment. For some perspective, in-state tuition (including room and board) is $26k per student.
Herman has a chance to not only cash in, but also sign a very long term contract with a buyout clause. It gives him the stability that anyone with a passion for coaching wants. Luckily for him, he doesn’t have to leave the place that has made him a shining star. He can simply sign on the bottom line and stay put.
- 2) How Does Being a Legend Sound?
This line of argument follows the path of thinking that Texas already has had a God-like coach: Daryl Royal. Houston has not. If Herman signs a long-term deal, and brings a national title to a non-power 5 conference team like Houston, it would be equivalent to Leicester City’s historic EPL title run. Even if Herman goes to Texas and has success, he will never surpass the man who has his name on the stadium. You can just ask Mack Brown.
- 3) If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It.
While an immensely talented team, Texas hasn’t been able to put it all together. On the other hand, Houston has emerged as a team that can play at the highest levels of the collegiate game. Momentum matters –in everything from sports to politics to life. Herman can use this leverage to recruit at top-dog levels and really go after 5-star talent. It is an increasingly feasible plan.
In the coming years, Houston could have a new state-of-the-art facility and join the Big XII. It would bring added exposure and revenue. More than that, it would establish and solidify the Herman as Houston icon narrative. Gary Patterson at TCU offers an interesting parallel.
It is great to have options. Tom Herman has them, likely from Texas and LSU. However, he should think hard before he makes a jump from the place where he built an emerging national reputation. As a UT fan, I would love to see him walking the sidelienes in Austin next fall. An objective analysis, however, suggests there are solid arguments to be found on both sides of the coaching caroussel debate.