Tom Herman speaks during the press conference in the Carpenter-Winkel Centennial Room of the Belmont Hall on Sunday, November 27, 2016. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Kirk Bohls

American-Statesman Staff


Bohls: Tom Herman’s Horns could win it all, but not in 2017

Posted November 27th, 2016

Story highlights
  • Mack Brown, for whom Tom Herman was a grad assistant, said Herman's only been a head coach for two seasons "but those were really good seasons."
  • Asked what coaching adjustments he'll have to make at Texas, Herman said, "None."
  • His Cougars assistant Oscar Giles calls his boss "a leader" and "very passionate about what he does."

In all likelihood, Tom Herman will not win the national championship in 2017.

Nor does he have to. But he’d better over the life of his five-year contract.

If he does win it all in his first season at Texas, he’ll get a nice bonus and will be seen water-skiing on Lady Bird Lake. Without benefit of skis.


With all due respect to his predecessor, who predicted at least 10 wins next fall and a national championship in the near future, the cupboard isn’t near that stacked to become the next Alabama. Not even close. Besides, we all know Alabama wins it every year.

The cupboard’s not nearly that full at Texas.

But neither is it bare.

Expectations should simmer down before Longhorns start planning the parade route down Congress Avenue. I doubt anyone saw a College Football Playoff team masquerading as a 5-7 team in burnt orange this season.

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But I could see a national title in Texas’ future with Herman. So can Herman, I promise you. This man’s driven. And confident. Asked about adjustments he’ll make in Austin, the steely-eyed Herman said, “None.”

He may have only been a graduate assistant under Mack Brown in 1999, but he takes it all in. Herman may kiss his players, but he’s only kiss and tell about how hard his team is going to work and play.

“This won’t be Camp Texas,” Herman vowed. “Never once have I seen a football coach hoist a championship trophy and, when asked how did you win, he said, ‘We out-finessed ‘em.’ That’s never come out of any coach’s mouth ever.”

And won’t his mouth either. He promised a physically and mentally tough team. That comes in handy in fourth quarters.

Asked to label Herman’s best qualities, Houston defensive line coach Oscar Giles, who will join him here, said, “A leader. Very detailed. He’s really passionate about what he does.”

And is he ready for a place this demanding?

“Do we all?” Giles asked.

Just because Charlie Strong said the team is stacked doesn’t mean it’s so. Can’t say I blame Strong, however, because he was trying to sell himself to the administration as much as apply pressure to whoever followed him.

Just as Strong went 6-7 after inheriting a Mack Brown team that almost captured the Big 12 and had six NFL players, including a first-rounder, on defense and two five-star running backs, Herman shouldn’t be expected to walk on water in his first year either. Second year, maybe.

But unquestionably he will be expected to contend for Big 12 and national championships soon. Sure, over the last five years, 125 FBS programs haven’t won it all. Only three have — Alabama three times, Ohio State and Florida State. An Ohio State team with a promising, young offensive coordinator, incidentally.

That young coordinator was and is the Longhorns’ best option, and I think North Carolina’s Larry Fedora was Plan B. Yes, Herman’s the coach who lost to SMU, Memphis and Navy. And he’s the same coach who upset Top 10 teams Louisville, Oklahoma and Florida State. He has but two years’ experience as a college head coach, but a guy named Darrell Royal had only three. Different era? Bob Stoops had none before taking over at OU.

“He’s only been a head coach for two years,” Brown said, “but he’s been real good those two years. Does he have what it takes to win a championship? I think he does.”

So do I.

And Herman will have a lot of ready-made talent at Texas. If it was over-the-top talent, Strong would still be here.

Texas does hold promise. Lots of it. I can see nine or 10 wins next year, but that’s a leap from five.

Herman won’t suffer from sticker shock when he sets his bags down in Moncrief.

The All-Big 12 teams are not likely to be overloaded with Longhorns outside running back and punter. D’Onta Foreman and Michael Dickson are strong bets for consensus All-American, but Foreman may be changing addresses.

Herman’s got a talented but not superstar at quarterback, and Shane Buechele is very fragile and is no dual threat.

His offensive line returns but for one senior. It should be a good one as it was in Houston despite seven different lineups in the line.

He’s got an All American-caliber running back. Well, for a few weeks.

But he needs a lot, too.

Texas needs a playmaker in the defensive line, someone like Ed Oliver at Houston.

Texas needs stability in the secondary where P.J. Locke III, Kris Boyd and John Bonney showed promise.

Texas needs reliable wide receivers, which means more Devin Duvernay and Dorian Leonard and probably less John Burt.

Texas needs a kicker. Oh, does Texas need a kicker, unless junior Mitchell Becker  is the real deal.

But so is Tom Herman.

Editor’s note: The original version of this article was edited to correct the last name of Texas’ punter Michael Dickson