Tom Herman discusses finalizing staff, vision for Texas football

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) — Tom Herman completed his first coaching staff at Texas on Tuesday with the announcement of Tim Beck and Stan Drayton’s hiring.

But the two hires were received with mixed emotions. While Drayton’s hiring as the running backs coach/run game coordinator/associate head coach was praised, Beck’s addition as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach was met with skepticism, especially since the last game Beck coached in was Ohio State’s shutout loss to Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinal.

“I was really surprised because it’s very well known that Tim Beck didn’t call plays at Ohio State,” Herman said. “I think that negativity was misplaced on him.”

Meanwhile, Drayton, who joins the staff after two seasons in the NFL with the Chicago Bears, is praised for his development of running backs, including Cowboys’ rookie Ezekiel Elliott at Ohio State.

“You wanna talk about a home run hire, coach Drayton and I had an opportunity to work together for three years at Ohio State,” Herman said. “Probably the premier running backs coach in the country, but a guy that also understands our system. He understands our culture and what we expect of our players.”

New UT football head coach Tom Herman meeting with students (KXAN Photo/ Ed Zavala)
New UT football head coach Tom Herman meeting with students (KXAN Photo/ Ed Zavala)

Together, the three of them will put together an offense Herman describes as “a pro-spread” that will be both no-huddle and up-tempo.

“We run pro concepts both in the run game and the pass game,” Herman said. “We just happen to do it from the shotgun and you have to defend the quarterback run element of it. Tim knows it very well. I’ll be very involved. It’ll be very similar to mine and Major [Applewhite’s] relationship at the University of Houston.”

While Herman will be involved in developing the game plan and personnel decisions on offense, he’ll also be involved with the defense and special teams coaching the punt team.

“If I was gonna try to be the offensive coordinator and play caller and the head coach, I would probably be doing both jobs a disservice, and I wouldn’t as good at either of them as I could be,” Herman said. “My job is to be the head coach, but also make sure that the offense is running the way I envision it running.”

At his introductory press conference, Herman emphasized the word alignment, and how every person involved in the program had to be aligned with the same goal and message for the team. As head coach, that will be one of his main goals with his assistants.

“My job is to coach coaches and to disseminate our culture,” Herman said. “I have to trust that those coaches, when we leave our staff meetings every day and we talk about what the expectations of this program are, from a cultural standpoint and from a game plan standpoint, whatever it is, I have to trust that those guys go into their nine position meeting rooms and we’re in complete alignment and there’s no deviation from that. These nine guys, I rest easy, I put my head down on the pillow every night knowing that’s not anything I have to worry about.”

With his expertise being on offense, Herman knew it would be critical for him to hire the right defensive coordinator, and he feels he did in Todd Orlando, his DC for two years at Houston. But with such an emphasis made on culture, Yancy McKnight as the strength and condition coach became the most critical hire.

“I knew early as a young head coach that the two most important hires that I would make would be my strength coach and my defensive coordinator, and that is still to this day because your strength coach is your culture coach,” Herman said. “He’s your guy that’s there that’s around these players year round, which we can’t be. He’s around them way more than position coaches and certainly the head coach. And then as an offensive guy, I needed to hire the best defensive coordinator in the country.”

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)

Coaching staff and recruiting are the two most obvious obstacles for a new head coach to tackle when starting a new job, and Tuesday Herman wrapped up the first, and the latter will wrap up February 1 on National Signing day. But there are two more aspects of putting together a winning program that Herman started working, as well in facilities and support staff.

Despite its reputation as one of the best programs in the country, Texas has fallen behind in both the arms race for facilities and building a support staff of analysts, recruiting coordinators and player personnel directors. So far, Texas president Greg Fenves and athletic director Mike Perrin have been receptive to all his requests.

“I tell people all the time that coaches and players win games and administrations win championships,” Herman said. “We’ve got a championship administration in president Greg Fenves and athletic director Mike Perrin. I’ve been told yes for everything that I’ve asked for around here, whether that’s a renovation of this building that we’re in from everywhere from graphics to locker room to weight room to support staff.

“We identified an area that we were deficient in as compared to the teams that are in the national championship hunt ever year: The Alabamas, the Clemsons, the Ohio States, the Florida States of the world,” Herman said. “We needed to create positions in our recruiting and support staff departments, and we’ve done that. We’ve hit the ground running. We’re gonna get an army down there just like the rest of the big boys in college football do, too, and we’re gonna get this facility, in very short order, to the point where it’s as good, if not better, than any in the country.”

Herman also said the tentative plan for spring practice is to start March 6 with a pair of practices, then break for spring break before going for four weeks straight, capped off by the spring game on April 15.

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