Top 3 things Coach Herman needs to turn Longhorns around

New football coach Tom Herman (center), with Mike Perring (left) and UT President Greg Fenves (KXAN Photo/Frank Martinez)
New football coach Tom Herman (center), with Mike Perrin (left) and UT President Greg Fenves (KXAN Photo/Frank Martinez)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas coach Tom Herman isn’t interested in a rebuilding project, he wants to win right away. Herman is Texas’ third coach in four years. Charlie Strong replaced Mack Brown after 16 years where Texas had just one losing season and from 2001 to 2009 the Longhorns won at least 10 games, a national title and played for another one.

There are so many keys to Herman’s immediate success at Texas, so after three straight losing seasons, we look at three of them. His vision, recruiting and staff. 

Vision

Herman said that his his time at Ohio State was like a three-year head coaching school under Urban Meyer, and that is where he learned to start his message with “alignment.”

“The expectations and the management of the program have to be aligned because they’re getting hit left and right with all these messages,” said Herman. “So from your assistant coaches, to your strength staff, to your support staff, to your training room, to your athletic director, to the academic people, the expectations is it can’t be okay to show up two minutes late for a tutor but not be okay to show up two minutes late for a position meeting. And so you have to be aligned in everything else you do or the kids have a way of going off the reservation a little bit.”

Herman got his start in big-time college football as a $400-per-month graduate assistant under Mack Brown at Texas in 1999. Brown was known for being one of the best at managing an overall program as well as his team.

“Football is not about what we all think it’s about,” said Brown. “It’s about people. Football is very simple. People are complicated. And what you’ve got to do is take all the complicated people and get them in one room and make them all play better than they can. Make them all feel good about themselves, make them all earn the right and then you got to figure out who you can hand it to, who to pitch it to and how many ways to get it to them and how to line up on defense. And that is much easier than getting the guys in order. But if they trust you and they believe in you, the rest of it works.”

Recruiting

Then there’s the life blood of a program, recruiting. He’s not only thinking about the future, but he also has to focus on his current team that is going through the coaching change.

Sam Ehlinger (KXAN Photo)
Sam Ehlinger (KXAN Photo)

Herman is currently recruiting his current players to buy in and trying to build his recruiting class. Westlake High School quarterback Sam Ehlinger committed to Charlie Strong the summer before his junior year, but has no reservations about coming to Texas under Herman.

“It’s definitely difficult with a coaching change, guys are kind of skeptical if I’m going to like this guy but I think in the long run they’re going to see the positive effects of the coaching change and really want to come to the University of Texas,” said Ehlinger.

Herman has recruited the Austin area, in fact, one of his prize recruits last year was Reagan High School running back Mulbah Car, so Raiders head coach Keith Carey knows Herman’s style firsthand. “I think he’s extremely relevant. I think he comes off as a guy that is relevant to the kids and the players and to the adults,” said Carey.

Texas had seven commitments under Strong, so Herman has gone out to re-recruit those players like Ehlinger as well as add to the class that figures to be a fairly small one considering they lost night scholarship seniors, they are also losing running back D’Onta Foreman who declared for the NFL draft.

Coaching Staff

So much of success in college football is about the coaching staff as well as the head coach. Charlie Strong left Texas with just two

Strong left Texas with just two assistants from his original staff and only one, linebacker coach Brian Jean-Mary in his exact same position. Strong made mid-season coordinator changes during each of the last two seasons as well.

“I think I’m the right guy because I surround myself with great people,” explained Herman. “We wouldn’t be able to do the things that we’ve done at the University of Houston without a great staff, and by that I mean, the nine assistants, the strength staff, the support staff and everybody around our program.”

Herman has hired four assistants from his Houston staff. Oscar Giles returns to Texas after an outstanding playing career as a defensive end and then as an assistant under Mack Brown from 2005-2013. Derrek Warehime, Jason Washington, and Corby Meekins have all been hired as well. Their titles will be determined when the entire staff is hired. The two big hires will be the coordinators. Both of his coordinators at Houston remain on the Cougar staff through their bowl game.

The two big hires will be the coordinators. Both of his coordinators at Houston remain on the Cougar staff through their bowl game. Defensive coordinator is the interim head coach and will interview for the job. Major Applewhite will also interview for the head coaching job. Applewhite, a former Longhorn quarterback and assistant coach, has been Herman’s right-hand man on offense the past two seasons. Houston is ranked 22nd in the nation in scoring this year and finished 10th last year when they finished 13-1.

Herman’s Offensive Stats

Year/School Overall Rank Rushing
2016 – UofH 36th 87th
2015 – UofH 20th 13th
2014 – Ohio State 9th 9th
2013 – Ohio State 7th 5th
2012 – Ohio State 46th 10th