One of the premiere head coaching jobs in the country has opened up at LSU and a number of candidates are up for the gig.
But there are two names above all, two candidates that send the hearts of Tigers’ fans aflutter with the possibility that they’ll end up in Baton Rouge. One, is Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, and the other is Houston head coach Tom Herman.
I’ve already made the case why Fisher should pass on the opportunity, but Herman is another story all together. While he’s building something incredible at Houston, LSU is a whole new ballgame.
What are those reasons? Here are five.
Getty ImagesThomas B. Shea
Houston’s uncertain future
Houston doesn’t know where the heck they’ll be playing football next year, or at any point in the near future. As we all know, Houston is in the AAC now but angling for the Big 12. The question is, will they ever get there?
It seems increasingly unlikely by the day, with especially disappointing news coming out Tuesday that Oklahoma -- a team that lost to Houston this year -- is opposed to expansion. That news has thrown the whole situation into flux, leading many to wonder if the league will expand at all in the near future.
While that’s disappointing for the Cougars, it also puts Herman in a tough spot. By all accounts he loves being at Houston, and seems to have no interest in going anywhere else. At the same time, how long can he wait around for the back-room politics to play themselves out, for the Big 12 to decide if they want to expand, and if those expansion plans include Houston? It’s a fair question, especially when you consider…
His stock will never be higher than it is now
Herman’s name is the biggest on the college football coaching market right now. That’s what tends to happen when you go 13-1 in year one, and sit at 17-1 overall through 18 games.
But the idea that any coach, in any conference is going to win an average of 17 of 18 games is unrealistic, and it also raises the question: What happens if Houston falters? It only took one Greg Ward Jr. injury to lose to UConn last year and they were nearly upset at Cincinnati earlier this year. Houston is a good program. But they aren’t infallible.
We’re not saying that a loss or two would remove Herman as a candidate for any -- or all -- major coaching jobs, but it’s impossible for him to maintain the insane standard he’s set through nearly one-and-a-half years in Houston. His star will never be brighter than it is now.
Getty ImagesKevin C. Cox
LSU isn’t just any other job
Herman was a candidate for a number of different openings last year and South Carolina reportedly pursued him especially hard. Still, Herman realized he had a good situation in Houston and decided to pass. Why go to a school where you’re fighting for third or fourth in your own division of the SEC?
But LSU? Well that’s not just a good job in a great conference. It’s arguably the best in the SEC and easily one of the best in the country.
LSU has a loyal and supportive fanbase which routinely packs over 100,000 people into Tiger Stadium and a school that continues to pour money into new facilities (including a new, $2.5 million weight room). LSU also has more recruiting advantages than any other school in the SEC. In addition to having access to the best high school players in Louisiana (a state that produces more NFL players per capita than any in the country) without any in-state competition, there is also access to Texas, which is just a few short hours across the Gulf of Mexico.
Speaking of which…
Herman’s recruiting game-plan wouldn’t have to change at all
This is the variable that no one talks about with Herman and LSU: Because he’s currently at Houston, Herman is uniquely qualified to not only do well in recruiting in Baton Rouge, but to be a MONSTER.
That's because in addition to having access to all the Louisiana kids who already want to go to LSU (the Tigers signed the No. 3 class in the country last year), he already has the connections in and around Houston.
For a school that already recruits well and routinely has as much talent as anyone, it would take LSU to an even higher level. It also leads me to the final piece…
The infrastructure is already there, LSU needs someone to take it to the top
For all the success Miles has had through the years, the last decade or so of his tenure made you think: If stubborn Les Miles, who refused to evolve on offense, could do so little with so many offensive weapons, could you imagine what a truly innovative offensive coach would do?
Herman is that guy. It makes me think that as good as the Tigers’ were under Miles, he can take them to that next, 21st century level.
This is a team that has averaged over 10 wins per season over the last 11 years under Miles, and did it without tapping into the potential of the offensive superstars of guys like Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry and Brandon LaFell. The lack of creativity has also put guys like Leonard Fournette in perilous positions. As good as he’s been, could you imagine what Fournette could do if LSU ever had any semblance of a passing game to help him out?
When you add an explosive offense in with what is already happening on defense, it could end up being a dangerously good combo.
There aren’t many schools that have a chance to win the title every year when they get the coaching hire right. But LSU is one of them and that’s why Herman needs to take this job.