Tom Herman is the Texas Longhorns’ latest five-star recruit
College football is all about recruiting and don't let anyone tell you anything different.
Texas didn't fire Charlie Strong because of his tactics or demeanor — he was fired because his players didn't cut it in Austin.
Nick Saban is a defensive genius — the man invented arguably the best pass coverage system the sport has ever known — but he's the best coach in college football because he's had the No. 1 recruiting class in football the last six years.
But the need to recruit top talent into a program is a top-to-bottom principle, and Texas needed to recruit a new head coach after three straight 7-loss seasons under Strong.
There will be second-guessing and parsing and naysaying about losses to SMU and Memphis, but make no mistake, Tom Herman is at the top of his class of coaching prospects — he's a five-star recruit — and Texas reportedly landed him as its next head coach Saturday morning.
It seems as if Texas did everything it could to botch this logical, straightforward hire. Disorder in the house of Bevo delayed Strong's inevitable firing and gave Herman's camp time to play nice with LSU and perhaps even Oregon.
But Herman clearly wanted Texas — it appears as if it took less than 12 hours for this deal to be made (it's never that easy, but that's how it looks to the outside).
So what is Texas getting in the 41-year-old former offensive coordinator?
The Longhorns landed a coach whose meteoric rise through the coaching ranks was no accident. You don't go from Sam Houston State's wide receivers coach to Ohio State's OC in eight years without earning a reputation for being whip-smart (he's a Mensa member) and innovative (his Smashmouth Spread offense is potent, but more importantly, dynamic).
Coaching is a macro game that is determined in the micro. It's cruel that way — just ask Strong. It's clear that Herman understands that.
Herman won't have to do much housecleaning at Texas — he can thank Strong for doing a lot of that thankless dirty work — but his experience under Urban Meyer and as the head coach at Houston shows that he understands the lifeblood of a modern college football program is equal parts hype and discipline.
That's a hard balance to pull off, but it's hard to argue that in two years, Herman wasn't able to get Houston to punch above its weight. He landed a five-star recruit to play in the American, and it wasn't because of academic failure or extenuating circumstances. He beat both Oklahoma and Louisville — two College Football Playoff-contending teams — this year. The depth of talented players wasn't necessarily there (yet), but when Houston played its A-game, there were few teams in the nation who could beat the Cougars this season — they were that good. There was massive momentum behind that program. He made it cool to go to Houston and play in a Group of Five conference in the span of a year. That's incredible.
One could only imagine the successes he could have had at the school had he stayed. Houston well could have been the next Boise State, but inside of one of the nation's best talent-producing cities.
Perhaps Howard Schnellenberger's Miami would have been the better comparison.
But Herman had to leave — especially after the drama of the past 48 hours. He burned the bridges when his agent clearly played the Power Five schools to the east and west.
Also, it's Texas. When Texas comes calling, you answer. It doesn't matter if you're a high school senior or a football coach.
And when Texas waits far too long to call and you're Tom Herman, you sit by the phone and wait for it to ring. You might even give the Longhorns a bit of a passive-aggressive push.
Will Herman be a success at UT? That's for him to decide over the next few years. Not every five-star recruit reaches their potential. But they have five-stars next to their name for a reason: they're elite.