Herman starts at Houston full-time after national title
HOUSTON (AP) — Tom Herman is finally done juggling two jobs and is giving his full attention to his new gig at the University of Houston.
Herman started his work as Houston’s coach after he was hired Dec. 16, but stayed on as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for Ohio State throughout the Buckeyes’ run to the national championship. After coaching in the title game Monday night, he arrived in Houston on Tuesday for dinner with his new coaching staff before spending all day Wednesday in meetings with the group.
The 39-year-old Herman exhaled heavily when asked how excited he was to just have one job again.
“More than you know,” he said.
He said the transition was made easier with help from Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, Houston athletic director Mack Rhoades and Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer.
“They’ve done a fantastic job of giving me all the resources necessary to maintain both jobs and really give my all to both jobs,” Herman said.
Herman agreed to a five-year, $6.75 million deal to coach the Cougars, who went 8-5 last season. He took over for Tony Levine, who was fired after going 21-17 in three seasons.
Herman has been quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator for Ohio State for the past three seasons. Under Herman, quarterback Braxton Miller was Big Ten player of the year in 2012 and ’13. Redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett stepped in after Miller was injured in the preseason this year, and Herman helped develop him into a Heisman Trophy contender. Barrett set a conference record by accounting for 45 touchdowns before going down with a season-ending injury against Michigan.
Cardale Jones took over and he led the Buckeyes to a 59-0 win over Wisconsin and the Big Ten title before upsetting No. 1 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and wrapping up the season with the 42-20 victory over Oregon for the national championship.
Herman said the toughest part of taking over a new program is instilling a winning culture. But he believes that having a national title on his resume will make that easier.
“What I’m telling you, what I’m preaching to you, what I’m teaching you is not theory anymore,” he said. “It’s testimony. It’s actually been done and I’ve been there. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen the inner workings. It’s not always going to be easy. It’s not always going to be fun. But ... we’re all striving toward the goal of winning a championship. We think we’ve got a pretty good handle on how to get there.”
He’ll try to do it with a newly assembled staff that has strong ties to Texas led by offensive coordinator Major Applewhite, a former quarterback at Texas, who has been an offensive coordinator at both Rice and with the Longhorns.
Corby Meekins, a longtime Texas high school coach, will coach the tight ends, assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator Craig Naivar has coached everywhere from TCU to Sam Houston State and special teams coordinator Jason Washington has worked at Texas State and Rice.
He’s counting on their connections to improve recruiting at the school.
“This state is an unbelievable hotbed of high school talent when it comes to football recruiting,” Herman said. “So it was very, very important to me to have guys that had recruited the area, that had deep roots within the state of Texas, that had deep roots within the high schools here in the state of Texas and we really wanted to make sure we could recruit in this state.”
Applewhite said recruiting within the state is one of the most important parts of their jobs.
“I think it’s vital,” he said. “There’s all we need right here in our backyard. We’ve got a staff that’s hungry ... so we’re going to do everything we can to (get) those student athletes.”
Applewhite is certain that they’ll be helped in recruiting by Herman coming off a national title.
“Obviously, a national championship ring with a third-team quarterback doesn’t hurt,” Applewhite said.
Applewhite, who hasn’t coached since leaving Texas in 2013, has known Herman since Herman was a graduate assistant with the Longhorns when Applewhite was the team’s quarterback. He’s thrilled to be coaching with him for the first time.
“It’s like any other business, it’s all about relationships,” Applewhite said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to be at some great places and I can tell you at the young age of 36 that it’s not where you’re at, it’s who you’re with. And it means a lot to be with him.”