Tag Archives: Tom Herman

Top 10 NCAA Quarterbacks for 2016

Quarterback is the most important position in football. (I’ll give you a moment to recover from this earth-shattering news) but this is especially the case in college football. Because of the talent discrepancies between top and bottom tier teams, even within a conference, a quarterback can single-handedly propel his team to the college football playoff. Additionally, top-notch quarterbacks who have exceptionally running ability can take over a game simply in that manner in a way that isn’t possible in the NFL. A great quarterback can make up for losses at the skill positions and keep his team in the game during shootouts.

Today, we’ll look at the top 10 quarterbacks heading into the 2016 season. This isn’t simply which quarterbacks had the best stats last year and are returning this year, or the ones that will have the best stats this year. It is a combination of statistical proficiency, pro potential, and who could lead their team to great things in 2016.

10. Chad Kelly – Ole Miss

Kelly is basically the de facto best quarterback in the SEC as he is the only returning quarterback to even finish in the top half of the nation in passing yards in 2015. That shouldn’t be a slight against Kelly since he put together a great year in his first season as the Rebels starting quarterback. It will be much tougher this year however without Laremy Tunsil protecting his blindside and fellow NFL draftees Laquan Treadwell and Cody Core gone from the receiving core.

9. Brad Kaaya – Miami (Fl.)

If Kaaya can regain his touchdown total from his freshman year (26) and add that to his improving accuracy (61% last year) it might be enough to make this list. It’s his potential however that has scouts salivating. Deshaun Watson is the favorite to be the number one pick in next year’s draft, but Kaaya is getting first round buzz as well. That buzz partially stems from the arrival of new coach Mark Richt, who has produced a plethora of quality quarterbacks in his career (Matthew Stafford, David Greene, Aaron Murray to name a few). If Kaaya wants to move into the top five, he’ll have to prove he can elevate Miami to outperform its run-of-the-mill expectations.

8. Notre Dame Starting QB

Alright this is a bit of a copout, but whoever ends up getting the starting gig for the Irish cannot be ignored. DeShone Kizer stepped in last year after Maliz Zaire got hurt early in 2015 and nearly led the Irish to a playoff spot. Zaire now returns as a junior after showing vast potential in his limited playing time for the Irish. If he’s able to beat out Kizer after the season Kizer had, Notre Dame fans know they are in good hands. On a team that is poised to make a run at a playoff spot again, whoever starts for the Irish will be a household name.

7. Josh Rosen – UCLA

There is a lot of potential put into this ranking of the UCLA sophomore, but it’s not as if Rosen has done nothing to warrant such hope. It can be tough to walk in as a prized recruit and perform from the moment you step on campus, but all Josh Rosen did was throw for 23 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, and finish top 20 in the nation in passing yards as a true freshman. He’ll look to build on those numbers and to help him do so, he’s packed on some muscle which should help prevent him from wearing down as the year goes on. The Pac-12 doesn’t have a clear contender entering 2016, and Rosen has the talent to make the Bruins the front-runner as the year goes on.

6. Greg Ward Jr. – Houston

Ward might be the preeminent dual-threat quarterback in the country after rushing for 21 touchdowns and over 1,100 yards a season ago. First-year coach Tom Herman took Greg Ward’s (and Houston’s) offensive performance to the next level, and if they make even the slightest improvements from last year, Ward may find himself at the Heisman ceremony. Not just a runner, Ward Jr had a respectable 8.2 yards per attempt and a near 3:1 TD:INT ratio. Adding to his importance? The Cougars only loss of 2015 came in the game he all but missed.

5. Luke Falk – Washington State

I could go on and on about Falk, but our guy Mike Wilson did a great job detailing the Wazzou quarterback this past week. What I will say about Falk is this: he threw for 300 yards, 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions in a blizzard in Washington State’s bowl game. As a fan of Miami (the Cougars’ opponent that day) I was thankful there was a snowstorm because it felt like he could go for 500 easily.

4. Baker Mayfield – Oklahoma

Getting to some heavy hitters here as many thought Mayfield deserved to be a Heisman finalist in 2015 after leading the Sooners to a spot in the college football playoff. He enters this year with the fourth best odds to take home the honor, and team expectations will be high as well with Oklahoma assuredly starting the year in the top 10. Mayfield was often the force behind keeping the Sooners’ hopes alive last year, but they may prove more difficult in 2016 without the help of superb wideout Sterling Shephard. Mayfield also won’t get the numbers that other top quarterbacks may achieve because of the running back tandem of Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon, maybe the best duo in the nation.

3. Seth Russell – Baylor

Russell is just the next quarterback in line to lead a prolific Baylor Bears offense. After stepping into the role a year ago, Russell was carving up opponents to the tune of 29 touchdowns, six picks, and an astonishing 10.5 yards per attempt just halfway through the season before a neck injury ended his year. Russell will be without first-round draft pick Corey Coleman this year, but Baylor is stocked with top WR recruits and with a usually questionable defense, Russell will be slinging it well into the second half. Well, when the Bears are playing a real team anyway.

2. J.T. Barrett – Ohio State

It’s easy to forget just how good Barrett was in 2014 after Cardale Jones’ 3-game run to end the year and the subsequent season-long offensive non-sense in Columbus in 2015. Barrett merely completed 64-plus percent of his passes on 9.0 yards per attempt, accounting for 45 touchdowns during his freshman campaign two years ago. Now that the team is his again, I expect a lot more of 2014 J.T. Barrett to come.

1. Deshaun Watson – Clemson

Sometimes the right answer is the most obvious one. Watson fulfilled the potential he showed in his freshman year by leading Clemson to a national title appearance, falling short against Alabama even though he threw for 400 yards and four touchdowns against arguably the nation’s best defense. After finishing as a Heisman finalist in 2015, Watson is the favorite to land the award in 2016 when he’ll lead an offense that returns eight starters, in addition to potential first-round pick at WR Mike Williams, who missed basically all of last year.

Featured image courtesy Tom Magliery


2015 AAC Championship: Tom Herman is Off and Running at Houston

Guess who won the Tom Herman 2016 coaching jackpot? Houston won it and the dividends began being paid out during the 2015 AAC championship game.

Temple faced off against Houston and was a legitimate foe. That did not matter to Herman and his Mensa mind. Herman consistently placed his Cougars in position to succeed on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
During the pregame show, ABC/ESPN offered a feature story on Temple linebacker, Tyler Matakevich. Matakevich has none of the measurables of a quality linebacker, but that did not hold him back from being the standout defensive player this year for Temple. What he lacked in measurables, he more than made up for in being “assignment sound.” Herman and his offensive gameplan didn’t receive that memo.

Houston’s offense went right at Matakevich and the Temple defensive front and the Cougars were rewarded. Greg Ward Jr. and Brandon Wilson gashed the Temple defensive front time and time again. Greg Ward’s success shouldn’t come as a surprise. But Wilson’s success? That should have come with a smidge of surprise. Herman and offensive coordinator, Major Applewhite, took a cornerback and used him to gash that Temple defensive front.

This is what a well-coached and well-formulated gameplan will do for a team. As I said before, Houston hit the jackpot with Houston. How long will Herman stick around is now the multi-million dollar question.
It is well known that Herman covets the Texas Longhorn coaching job. Throughout the season, Charlie Strong’s job security oscillated between strong and luke warm. Texas has been competitive against Baylor today and beat arch rival, Oklahoma earlier in the season. This means that Strong’s job security should be considered rock solid for the next year or so. Herman’s desire for a bigger job and specifically Texas, may or may not matter.

It may not matter due to the substantial contract that Houston inked Herman to. At $2.8 million per year, it is not a Texas sized contract but it does show the commitment that Houston has to Herman. This is a point that was also made by Chris Spielman and Shaun McDonough as they called the AAC championship game. Herman’s new contract may also be a harbinger of things to come for Houston.

Houston has been linked to rumors of potential Big 12 expansion. If this does indeed happen in the next 24 to 36 months, the football team certainly has a Power 5 type of coach. That $2.8 million salary could easily grow to over $3 million if Houston’s conference affiliation had a Power 5 relationship.

Prior to the AAC championship, Herman was in a great professional position regardless of what he chose to do in the future. With a dismantling of Temple, Herman’s value just got bigger. Yes, it is “only” an AAC championship but championships matter no matter which conference they are won in. Herman has proven that he has championship level coaching ability and to some schools that matters. Not only does it matter to some schools, but it also makes Houston even more attractive to any conference that may be contemplating expansion.

A successful Houston program is just what the Big 12 needs in its real or perceived fight with the SEC. A winning Houston program can battle for viewership in the Houston market with Texas A&M. And as the Aggies fizzle out time and time again, a Herman led Houston program may be the spear in the ground that the Big 12 needs.

Herman still has to prove that this season isn’t a one hit wonder for him, but all signs point to him being the real deal. Championships are difficult to win at any level and he has one in his first year as a head coach.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SMerenbloom.

Campus Pressbox 38: Potential Missouri Head Coaches

Note: This audio was recorded as part of The SEC 411 on November 18, 2015.

Damien (@damienbowman) and Seth (@SMerenbloom) talk about crazy potential head coaches at Missouri.


  • Missouri head coaches

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The Not-So-Secret Recipe for the University of Houston’s Success

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.

Week 8 Rundown: What a Time to be Alive

So you thought Auburn’s “Kick Six” a couple years ago was a once in a generation finish? You thought last week’s Michigan punting failure was a once-in-a-decade type of loss? So did I. And inexplicably, college football fans were treated to incredible, improbable finishes in back to back weeks. The Florida State-Georgia Tech matchup itself was much less meaningful than the Auburn-Alabama game from a few years back and even than last week’s Michigan-Michigan State game. But the Seminoles did have playoff hopes and a lengthy regular season winning streak.

They saw that streak come to an end with arguably the best kicker in the nation Roberto Aguayo having a last second field goal attempt blocked and returned for the game-winning touchdown. It’s not a total shock when a field goal gets blocked behind the line of scrimmage and gets taken to the house, but the best part about this one was that the ball landed past the line of scrimmage and the Yellow Jackets were still able to weave their way around and through the Seminoles for the score. That ending was the lone bright spot on an awful day for Hurricanes fans. That and fans can go back to spending their money on night club bottle service and beach days instead of banners to fly over the stadium now that Al Golden’s been fired.

Perhaps the biggest loss of the day however is one that won’t show up in a team’s Win-Loss record. Baylor QB and potential Heisman finalist Seth Russell sustained a neck injury and is now out for the year. Art Briles’ offensive system has been good for pretty much any quarterback that has lined up behind center for the Bears, but for a team that is known just for its offense, this obviously isn’t ideal. Baylor’s hopes now rest on the shoulders of talented freshman QB Jarrett Stidham, who at least has some game action this year, albeit in the 4th quarters of blowouts. Stidham’s Passer Rating in limited time is 255.7. In other words, college football’s passer rating system could use an overhaul.

Florida State wasn’t the only undefeated playoff contender to go down. Utah saw their first loss come at the hands of the USC Trojans 42-24 on Saturday, though I’m a little surprised the score wasn’t more lopsided considering the Utes lost the turnover battle 4-0. Regardless of this loss, I still have Utah as a Top 10 team and playoff contender. It seems I’m on a pretty lonely island with that though.

Utah dropped out of the Top 10 rankings and in the Campus Pressbox Mock Playoff Committee (which comes out every Monday) I was one of only two people out of eleven who still has Utah a Top 10 team. My thinking: Utah still has a really good defense, good special teams, and a pretty good offense. QB Travis Wilson had a bad day but has been playing pretty well overall. Everyone knows USC has Top 5/Top 10 talent, they just can’t put it together for a whole season. If they happen to play to their potential on one particular Saturday? I don’t look at that as a bad loss. There are plenty of other teams around the Top 10 with one loss, so I’m not going to drop Utah out just because their loss was the most recent.

Utah is still on track to play for a potential playoff spot against Stanford in the Pac-12 title game. Stanford cruised to a 31-14 victory over the Washington Huskies. Christian McCaffrey continues to do Christian McCaffrey things, rushing for over 100 yards as well as receiving for over 100, adding a touchdown on the ground and through the air as well. If he keeps this up, he may find himself at the Heisman ceremony. A fellow running back who is almost certain to be there is Leonard Fournette, but not if he keeps up performances like this past week. Less than 6 yards per carry against Western Kentucky? Only 150 yards and one touchdown? What is that? He must be hurt…All kidding aside, Fournette’s Tigers pulled away from the Hilltoppers in the second half and get a week off before their showdown with Alabama.

The Crimson Tide may have been ready for the bye week after recent big wins against Georgia and Texas A&M, because they looked uninspiring in their contest against the Volunteers on Saturday. A late defensive stop allowed them to sneak away with a 19-14 home win. The Tide also have the week off before their matchup with LSU. And while everyone likely assumes the winner of that game will be a heavy favorite to win the SEC and make the playoff, we shouldn’t put the final nail in the Ole Miss coffin just yet. The Rebels dominated Texas A&M in a 23-3 win and still only have one conference loss. A win over LSU next month would give them the tiebreaker over both LSU and Alabama. That is of course if the Rebels don’t lay another egg like they did against Memphis.

That brings me to my favorite hypothetical of this college football season. If Ole Miss runs the table (they only have 4 games left and get LSU at home) and wins the SEC Championship game, they would be an 11-2 SEC champ. A guaranteed playoff spot right? But what if Memphis also wins out and goes 12-0 with wins over currently ranked Temple and Houston on top of that Ole Miss win? Memphis is thought to have basically no shot to make the playoff even with an undefeated season but this would be an impossible spot for the playoff committee. They couldn’t possibly leave out an 11-2 SEC champ, but could they put that team in over an undefeated Group of 5 team that beat them? I think America needs to root for this scenario.

That Memphis team continues to look good, at least on offense, after winning 66-42 over Tulsa with QB Paxton Lynch having another outstanding day putting up 447 yards and four touchdowns. Normally this type of team would be a shoo-in for the Group of 5 spot in a New Year’s Six bowl, but not this year. The American Conference still has three undefeated teams, with all ranked in the Top 25. Houston continues to dominate opponents in Tom Herman’s first year as head coach. Temple is the third undefeated, and they’ll get their chance to make a statement this week with a home game against Notre Dame. That matchup is the only game between ranked teams this week. Needless to say, it’s not a great slate. This would be the Saturday to spend some time with the significant other and get in his/her’s good graces.

The playoff committee continues to look at a potential nightmare. The Ohio State/Michigan State winner would be an easy selection if undefeated, but the only other likely undefeated teams are Clemson (in a bad ACC) or TCU/Baylor (if their defenses can hold up against each other and Oklahoma). But unlike last year where the final two playoff spots came down to three or four real candidates, there may be six or seven this year with a solid case. I’m guessing there’s just a slight chance the talk about the need for an eight-team playoff isn’t going to get quieter.

Top 4



Ohio State


Ohio State Offense Prolific With or Without OC Herman

The 2014 season has been anything but a smooth ride for Ohio State. With the Buckeyes finding a way to persevere through tragedy and multiple quarterback injuries, it’s time to add one more wrinkle to one of the most unpredictable seasons in school history. After winning the 2014 Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant coach, Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman is expected to be named the next head coach at the University of Houston, according to FOXSports.com

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Personally, I don’t think this is too big of a deal and frankly, we saw this day coming sooner rather than later. However, this news could leave Herman and the Buckeyes in quite a predicament. Will Herman bolt for Houston right away to get a head start on the recruiting trail or will he remain with Ohio State through the conclusion of the playoff run? The answer is pretty simple. Herman stays for the remainder of the Ohio State season and attempts to win a national championship while he still has the chance. The new playoff system is built for the five power conferences. Herman won’t be winning any national championships at Houston. I can promise you that. The Buckeyes landed a spot in the playoffs despite being down to their third-string quarterback in Cardale Jones. It has been quite a remarkable coaching job by the entire staff and Herman is a big part of it. I would like to think he wants to help finish what he started.

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has been down this road before with some of his previous top-assistants and it shouldn’t serve as a significant distraction. With everything this team has been through over the past five months, I don’t think anything can distract this group of Buckeyes. Current Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen served as the offensive coordinator at Florida under Meyer. Mullen accepted the Bulldogs’ head coaching position prior to Meyer’s second national championship with the Gators in 2008.

When Meyer was introduced at Ohio State three years ago, he vowed that he would assemble one of the best coaching staffs in America so I have little doubt that Meyer will find a suitable replacement for Herman. However, with Jones set to make his second career start in a pretty important game against Alabama, it is certainly less than ideal to have your offensive coordinator possibly working two jobs at once, should Herman decide to stay on with the Buckeyes for the time being.

Lesser programs searching for the next great head coach obviously will target the top-assistants of championship-caliber programs like an Alabama, Florida State or Ohio State. It is nothing short of a compliment to lose a coach like Herman to another school, but the timing of it can make it somewhat rough.

New Florida coach Jim McElwain remained the offensive coordinator for Alabama in the 2012 BCS Championship against LSU after accepting the head coaching position at Colorado State. With both McElwain and Mullen, their respective teams didn’t miss a beat and went on to claim national titles. It didn’t work out so well for Florida State when former offensive coordinator Mark Richt accepted the coaching job at Georgia. Richt stayed with Florida State for the 2000 BCS Championship Game against Oklahoma and the Seminoles’ offense struggled mightily. Oklahoma defeated Florida State 13-2.

However Herman decides to approach the next few weeks, the Buckeyes are a motivated group and if they fail to win the national championship, it won’t be because of Herman. A national championship would be a historic feat for this resilient group of Buckeyes and would be a nice recruiting pitch for Herman to begin his head coaching career.

The Pipeline: June Jones Resigns at SMU

Official release: http://www.smumustangs.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/090814aaa.html
Today, June Jones resigned from Southern Methodist. Because of everything else going on today, this is something that will fall to the wayside, but we shouldn’t be under appreciative of what Jones did at SMU. He’s a total out of the box thinker, and in his time at Hawaii was able to guide them to the 2008 Sugar Bowl. Hawaii was smoked by Georgia, 41-10, but hey they were paid well.
Jones is 61 years old, and cited health and personal reasons for his departure. I promise no one in Dallas is upset that he’s leaving. It isn’t that he isn’t a good coach, it’s because he accomplished his goal, and knows when it’s time to leave.
When Jones arrived at SMU in 2008, the program was in shambles. SMU was about to open a new stadium and previous coach Phil Bennett had run the program into ground. Jones was proven and well known. That obviously helped with recruits. However, as June got older his players started to pay attention less and less.
Jones knew it, and so did the administration.
Who’s next? The list is long and strong because SMU has tons of money, and if needs more the alumni are typically more than willing to pay. June Jones was paid a very healthy $1.9 million per season. Yes, 1.9 in the income tax-free state of Texas.

Some names I’ve seen so far: Houston Nutt, Butch Davis, Tom Herman, Jake Spavital and ASU Mike Norvell.
More to come…