Houston Cougars: Tom Herman: An Ingredient For Success?


It’s official.

The University of Houston Cougars have tapped Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman as their 13th head coach in program history.

I honestly didn’t know the hire was going to be this quick but UH did so in a reported five-year, $6.75 million deal.

Last week, he had been rumored as the Coogs next choice after Will Muschamp decided to take the defensive coordinator job at Auburn University.

This hire is definitely an intriguing one as he’s not a household name but he certainly could be.

He will have an opportunity to install his high-powered offense to a team that once was perennial leader in that category but had fallen from grace as of late.

The Coogs were 60th in total offense conjuring up only about 4,900 yards of offense — 408 yard per game average — and 41 touchdowns on the season.

You have to put points on the board to win football games!

Herman’s offensive style works — Ohio State was No. 8 in the FBS this season in total offense with nearly 6,660 yards of offense on 73 total touchdowns. They were the No.1 offense in the Big 10 this season.

Dec 6, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer talks to quarterback

Cardale Jones

(12) in a game against the Wisconsin Badgers during the Big Ten Football Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Ohio State defeats Wisconsin 59-0. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

That’s nearly 100 yards more of offense than what the Coogs put out this season!

I think that he’ll be a nice fit to a program that is just waiting for its opportunity to be on the rise.

I’m hopeful that Herman will retain David Gibbs — who has been the Coogs’ defensive coordinator since the 2013 season.

Gibbs currently is the interim head coach and will lead the Coogs in their 4th bowl game in the past five years. �It will be the Armed Forces Bowl up against Pittsbugh in Fort Worth Jan. 2.

For a school that was notorious in regard to putting as many points on the board as possible to outscore and defeat their opponent, the defense was ranked 19th in the FBS this season.

That unit allowed only 4,105 yards — 334 yards per game — off 29 touchdowns this season.

These two — Herman and Gibbs — have the potential to make beautiful music together, just wait and see.

There’s even word of former University of Texas quarterback Major Applewhite to join his staff as the offensive coordinator.

What a shot in the arm to an offense that badly needs some tweaking.

In fact, Herman and Applewhite worked together during the 1999-2000 seasons when Applewhite was under center and when Herman was a graduate assistant.

Applewhite has really gotten his feet wet into coaching over the years — he started as a graduate assistant with his alma mater, then on to Rice, Alabama, back to Texas for the past few seasons — with the exception of this one because of a new regime — and now at UH.

Nov 28, 2013; Austin, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns quarterback

David Ash

(r) talks with offensive coordinator Major Applewhite (l) prior to the game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Applewhite is known for installing quick, two-minute or less run-and-shoot offenses that leave defenses scratching their heads in unison.

When he was at Rice in 2006, at 27-years-old, he was the youngest offensive coordinator in Division I football and led the Owls to their first postseason berth in nearly 40 years, all while scoring 350 points, which was, at the time, the third-highest total in school history.

That was, until Herman succeeded Applewhite when he took over at Rice as OC.

Rice scored 537 points in the 2008 season, the highest in school history and Herman’s last before moving on to Iowa State the following season.

They’re both known for getting the full potential out their players — especially quarterbacks — as Herman lost two this season because at Ohio State in Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett but was able to rise to the occasion and coach backup Cardale Jones to a 59-0 win over Wisconsin Dec. 6th.� This was not only a pronounced shutout but secured a coveted spot for the Buckeyes to participate in college football’s first playoff for the national championship.

At Rice, Applewhite molded Chase Clement into a surgeon of reliability — picking defenses apart and helping the Owls average 270 yards per game of total offense.

These guys seem extremely resourceful of the assets they have and I think it will ring true at UH.

There were too many offensive weapons the team had this past season to be underachieving like they did.

And now were about see what this new coaching team can do.

The program is not in shambles and just needs some minor tweaking to be competitive once again, not only in the American but on a national level as well.

I’ll stop short of this team being a national powerhouse just yet but there’s no reason why this team can not only hang but beat the snot out of meaningful competition.

Being a powerhouse on a national level involves a plethora of factors to take place — recruiting, fan support, funding sources and facilities.

With a ton of college football dominant teams in the Lone Star State, the pickings are slim for the top recruits and UH continues to be the begotten stepchild, wanting the acceptance and respect that other football programs get.

The facilities are definitely on track — the university just erected a $120 million, 40,000-seat football stadium on campus that is quite a marvel to revel at — offering unimpeded views of the action from just about every seat as well as downtown Houston’s skyline.

Nov 8, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; General view of TDECU Stadium during a game between the Houston Cougars and the Tulane Green Wave. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve been already been to a few home games this season, I can attest to that.

However, I have to note that TDECU Stadium is still appears incomplete in some minor areas — so I’m not sure if the school ran out of funding or if they’re going to get to the minor cosmetic nuances later.

Also, did the administration forget to install the planned auxiliary video board as well?

The fan base, although loyal and dedicated — I’m proud to be part of it — dwarfs the sizes of powerhouse athletic programs.

To be honest, unless the team is playing well, facing an elite opponent or something ‘new’ is going on at the stadium, the sea of empty seats to complement the devoted alumni and the rambunctious student section is a painful but telling sign o’ the times.

Nov 8, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Cougars fans cheer during the game against the Tulane Green Wave at TDECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

I think that’s going to change with Herman on board as he has coached at Texas Lutheran, Texas, Sam Houston State, Texas State and Rice — certainly having ties in the Lone Star State and with Applewhite on board, that will help with recruiting talent.

This is his first head coaching gig though.

But one thing that Herman does have going for him is that he had some shiny new hardware to show off to his now new employer.

Herman is most recent recipient of the Broyles’ Award.

Named for long-time University of Arkansas head coach Frank Broyles, it’s an award of excellence that recognizes the nation’s top assistant coach at the collegiate level.� Herman was selected amongst a field of 1,500 eligible coaches from a panel of 11 that include former coaches such as Barry Switzer and Mack Brown.

Past recipients of the award include Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn and Duke’s David Cutliffe.� Both have turned their respective programs around quickly after taking over the reins.

Oct 2, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Members of the Houston Cougars run onto the field before a game against the Central Florida Knights at TDECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Broyles was, of course, an assistant himself before he got the coaching job at Arkansas — he would eventually win one national championship with seven conference titles to boot to add to his body of work.� He has had dozen of his own assistants land head coaching jobs at every level of football.

I’m hoping the same track that Broyles took happens with Herman as he leads the UH football program to the next chapter.

I see great things ahead for this program — whether it’s later than sooner, my best guess would be the latter.

Now that the Coogs have a head coach with notable experience at the assistant level, I think that the rest will fall into place.

I’m not sure how long Herman will be here but I hope long enough for me start enjoying watching Cougars’ football once again.

We were quite spoiled when two guys named Art Briles and Kevin Sumlin took over, coached the Coogs to success, made a name for themselves and have gone on to the next echelon of their careers.

I’m now ready to be spoiled again.

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All I know is that I’ll be damn sure to be at TDECU Stadium this fall at the start of the upcoming season.

I will continue to not focus on the name but on what that name can bring to the table.

From what I see so far, it seems like a whole lot.

Let the Tom Herman era begin…

Go Coogs!