Houston coach Tom Herman wasn’t happy to face questions about any team other than his Cougars on Friday.
“I’m not going to talk about any other job except the one I’ve got right now and these kids,” Herman said during what appeared to be an uncomfortable pre-game interview with ESPN before the Houston-Memphis game. “There’s nothing to handle except beating Memphis.”
Herman and the 20th-ranked Cougars certainly had their hands full against the Tigers.
Memphis had a 17-point lead at halftime, but Houston came storming back and took a three-point lead with 1:29 remaining. That’s a lifetime in college football. The Tigers needed only five plays to move 72 yards for the game-winning score in a 48-44 win.
Herman declined to answer a question about his future after the game.
Houston finished the regular season with a 9-3 record. In two seasons as a head coach, Herman is 22-4 and 6-0 against ranked teams. He’s also lost to Navy, SMU and Memphis this season despite being oddsmakers’ favorite.
Herman’s name was front and center on Thanksgiving night. In the middle of the Texas A&M-LSU game, Horns Digest reported that Herman was close to finalizing a deal with LSU, and ESPN then said it could happen as early as Saturday.
USA Today also reported that Herman met with LSU officials in Houston on Thursday, presumably before the Cougars left town for their regular-season finale at Memphis. A Houston source said Herman was in Memphis and spent the entire afternoon with his team.
LSU officials released two statements on Thursday saying that no decision has been reached on their coaching situation. Interim LSU coach Ed Orgeron, meanwhile, led the Tigers to a 54-39 win over the Aggies in College Station.
After those Herman reports broke, the Houston Chronicle reported that UH officials presented Herman a new deal that included a seven-figure raise. Herman currently makes $3 million annually, according to a contract obtained by the American-Statesman.
Herman, a former graduate assistant at Texas, was thought to be a solid candidate for the Longhorns if the school moves on from coach Charlie Strong. The American-Statesman reported last Sunday that UT administrators, namely president Gregory L. Fenves, had decided to fire the third-year coach who has a 16-20 record.
However, Strong was superb at an emotional press conference on Monday where he outlined the reasons why he should be given another year. More than 50 players were in attendance to show their support. Strong left the podium to applause, and TV cameras captured the coach giving and receiving hugs.
The optics of that moment had an effect on top UT officials, apparently. On Thursday, a university source told the Statesman that Strong still has a chance to save his job with a blowout win over TCU on Friday. The Horns were slight favorites at home.
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