The Houston Cougars have been an interesting team to follow this season. Not too many people outside the state of Texas know much about them, but that could be changing in a few weeks.
As we stand, Houston is undefeated with two games left to play. But let’s not get carried away; their biggest opponents have been Memphis and Louisville. However, they have taken care of business with the schedule that they’ve been dealt.
The Cougars don’t have a strong enough schedule to be considered for the College Football Playoff, but we could be seeing them in a New Years bowl game as the best team outside of the Power 5 conferences. So why is Houston dominating this season after being an average team over the last few seasons?
The answer is simple: Tom Herman.
For those who don’t know, Herman is the first-year head coach of the Cougars after being Ohio State’s offensive coordinator for their championship run a year ago. He has always been a highly regarded coordinator, but now you can expect his name to be on a short list for teams looking for a head coach.
Herman has been successful in Houston because he has a lot of ties to the state of Texas. He coached for 10 years for different programs in Texas before spending time elsewhere. Now he is back in Texas and has picked up where he left off. And he just may have picked a coaching hotbed to propel his career.
Houston has been a starting point for several head coaches recently. The most notable coaches are Art Briles of Baylor and Kevin Sumlin of Texas A&M. The common theme between those coaches is that they had success at Houston with offensive minds and now have been at their current jobs ever since. Herman could be going down that same path.
Assuming Herman wants to be a head coach in a Power 5 conference, he may want to stay where he’s at for a little while. He seems to have a good handle on recruiting in the state of Texas, so it’s probably best that he stays within the state for his next head coaching job. The only problem is, there aren’t many high profile Texas programs that are actively looking for a head coach right now.
An interesting fit for Herman would be at the University of Texas. The Longhorns have struggled under Charlie Strong, and the rumblings about him possibly leaving are starting to get louder. It’s unlikely that Strong will get fired at the end of this year, but that could be a different story if Texas has the same result next year.
Herman doesn’t have enough head coaching experience yet to inherit a team that is rebuilding. If he came into a situation like at Texas where Strong has been bringing in some solid recruits to work with, then Herman could hit the ground running and see success virtually overnight. But he has to have something to work with already.
Programs like USC, South Carolina and Miami likely won’t be courting Herman too strongly this offseason, so Houston fans can probably rest easy for now. Briles and Sumlin spent at least three years at Houston before moving on, so it actually may be in Herman’s best interest to wait for the right fit.
College football programs are becoming increasingly more impatient when it comes to their head coach. If Herman finishes this season undefeated and has success again at Houston for a couple more seasons, he will likely be able to cherry pick his next job. But if he starts hovering around a .500 season for a couple of years, then we could be talking about a completely different story with him.
I believe Herman is going to be successful at Houston during his tenure and he will land a high profile job in the near future. The only hope Houston fans have for keeping him is if some crazy realignment scenario happens where the Cougars end up in the Big XII or another Power 5 program. With the ways things are going, it doesn’t appear that will be likely over the next few years.
Readers of More Than A Fan need to remember Tom Herman’s name. Give it a few years and we could be talking about him being the head coach at a major college program and having some big time success. Unfortunately, it just won’t happen at the University of Houston.
Sorry UH fans.