New UH Coach A Nutjob

New UH coach Tom Herman is sort of a nutjob and that's a very good thing — no matter how quickly he may leave

New UH coach Tom Herman is sort of a nutjob and that's a good thing

Tom Herman UH
Tom Herman brings a Big Ten background and big-time ambition to the University of Houston coaching job. Courtesy of College Insider
Case Keenum ear
Bringing back the echoes of the Case Keenum at the University of Houston is no simple task for Tom Herman. 
News_Shelby_Influentials_Renu Khator_June 2013
University of Houston president Renu Khator is all about bringing her school more recognition. Photo by © Michelle Watson/
Tom Herman UH
Case Keenum ear
News_Shelby_Influentials_Renu Khator_June 2013

His first official day on the job and Tom Herman is already promising to make his University of Houston players' lives a living hell.

"We're going to have the hardest, most difficult offseason program you've ever heard of," Herman vows at one point.

Of course, he also mentions surviving on No-Doz capsules and Red Bull chugs himself, admits he doesn't see his kids much when they're awake these days and marvels at the job he did in "recruiting" his wife Michelle years ago. The 39-year-old chosen to be Houston's new football coach does not have much of a filter. Tom Herman is a character — and a little bit of a nutjob.

And that just may make him perfect for the audacious job of making UH football truly matter to more than just Coog alums in a city dominated by its professional sports teams.

 Passion pours out of Tom Herman. We're definitely not talking about someone who needs a Fitbit to get moving in life. 

Tom Herman is going to bring some buzz to TDECU Stadium. That much is apparent from his introductory press conference, fittingly held in the first-year stadium that Herman must make a place to be. With the rain pounding on the pavement of UH's overcrowded parking lots outside and the school's marching band pounding inside, Herman looks like he can't get enough of the noise.

He also seems to understand that it's his job to make sure this electricity jolt isn't just a one day thing.

"We will be exciting to watch," Herman promises.

That's crucial on Cullen Boulevard. Turning UH's breathtaking offensive tradition into a boring slog is what did former coach Tony Levine in even more than his 21-17 record. With Ohio State having scored more than 50 points a whopping 15 times during Herman's three-season run as Urban Meyer's offensive coordinator, that should not be a problem for the Cougars anymore. (Contrast that with Levine whose Houston teams only scored 50 points twice in his three seasons as the Cougars head man despite playing less talented opponents and the gap becomes even more glaring.)

Herman seems to understand that you need a little showmanship in college football. Especially at a place like UH.

"The city of Houston needs a hometown college football team to be proud of," Herman says.

The new coach is already talking about bringing out some "fun stuff" to get University of Houston students more involved at the games. You can bet Herman will be recruiting fans too. Passion pours out of this guy. We're definitely not talking about someone who needs a Fitbit to get moving in life.

Yet there are UH fans already torturing themselves by imaging when Tom Herman will leave the Cougars behind for a bigger program. Please. If Herman bolts UH like Art Briles after five seasons or like Kevin Sumlin after four, it's a huge coup for Houston. Heck, if he jumps to a Power Five conference after only three seasons, it's even better.

For it will mean Herman has been ultra successful at Houston.

The Next Art Briles?

Yes, Tom Herman is more likely to be the next Briles or Sumlin than UH's version of TCU's Gary Patterson, but so what? Enjoy the show well you can.

If the University of Houston really wanted a good guy coach who pushed his players academically and dreamed of nothing more than life in Cougar red than the school should have kept Tony Levine. (As I argued in a column after Levine's firing.) But athletic director Mack Rhoades and more importantly, university president Renu Khator obviously want much more than an exceedingly decent man.

 Turns out the nutjob is a little bit of a hardass too. UH is going to be awfully hard to ignore with Herman on its sideline.  

And they deserve some kudos for not really pretending otherwise.

"I just want you to know that winning is very important," Khator tells Herman at his introduction. The UH president's soft smile on delivering the line does not hide the real truth behind it.

Yet, Herman is jumping right into the Houston challenge, even as he continues to pull double duty as Ohio State's offensive coordinator.

This is a guy who talks about getting in front of the returning Cougar players in his first meeting with the team and asking them to trust him — while acknowledging the inherent absurdity of an outsider coming in and requesting such a thing. This is a guy who named his youngest son after a Top Gun character (meet Maverick Herman, really — UH's new coach gives Tom Cruise proper credit too). This is a guy who live tweeted the ordeal of being stuck on an Atlanta highway for 19 hours in an infamous ice storm.

Most big-time coaches would have bit someone's leg off if they found their schedule destroyed by such a calamity. Herman let everyone in on his misadventure and showed great humor and humanity.

This new guy is worth watching. No matter how long he ends up staying.

"Regardless of talent, the toughest team always has a chance to win the game," Herman says early in his own introductory remarks.

Turns out the nutjob is a little bit of a hardass too. UH football is going to be awfully hard to ignore with Tom Herman on its sideline. Day One and the University of Houston is already winning. Big time.