Posted January 18th, 2017
COLUMBUS, Ohio — If you’ve listened to Tom Herman since he arrived at Texas, you’ve probably heard the word “align” once or twice.
The concept of alignment is simple. For Herman, it just means making sure that everyone associated with his football program has the same mission in mind. It’s a philosophy he studied during his three years as Urban Meyer’s offensive coordinator at Ohio State.
“The biggest message I always give him is to make sure from A to Z, everyone is on the same page,” Meyer told the American-Statesman in December. “That’s something that I think he’s going to be exceptional in.”
In 2012, Meyer hired Herman — a coach he had never worked with — away from Iowa State to be his first offensive coordinator at Ohio State. The Buckeyes averaged 42.8 points per game from 2012-14 under Herman, who had spent part of his childhood in nearby Cincinnati. Ohio State scored a school-record 672 points during the 2014 season, and those final 42 points were tallied in the national championship game.
“I love coach Herman, he was a great coach here,” Ohio State junior offensive lineman Jamarco Jones said. “His offensive mind was kind of crazy.”
Wait, what do you mean by “crazy?”
“Some people, when you talk to them about the game plan and things like that, they’re just way ahead,” Jones said. “He’s one of those guys.”
In addition to coordinating Ohio State’s offense, Herman — who was named the Big Ten’s recruiter of the year in 2013 by Rivals after landing six 4-star recruits on the Buckeyes’ No. 2-ranked class — also helped the Buckeyes expand their recruiting map.
After Ohio State had signed only three Texans from 2003 to 2012, Meyer got three in 2013 thanks to Herman, who successfully recruited Wichita Falls quarterback J.T. Barrett, DeSoto receiver Dontre Wilson and Plano linebacker Mike Mitchell. Fort Worth offensive lineman Demetrius Knox came in 2014.
But Barrett was one of Herman’s biggest hauls, becoming one of three Buckeyes quarterbacks who topped the depth chart during that 2014 championship season and led Ohio State to this year’s CFP semifinals. Herman had seen Barrett play only on film before his senior season, but swayed the Wichita Falls Rider star to join a signing class that yielded four first-round picks of last year’s NFL draft.
James Garfield, who was Barrett’s head coach at Rider, recalls the quarterback comparing college recruiters to cash and credit cards. Credit card recruiters left a sense of uncertainty. Thanks to an approach in which he built relationships with high school coaches and would ask a lot of non-football questions about the players, Herman was likened to the other type of recruiter in Barrett’s analogy.
Unfortunately now for Herman, Ohio State has continued to mine Texas talent. The Buckeyes have commitments from three of the top four players on the Statesman’s Fabulous 55 list of the state’s best recruits from the Class of 2017).
That run may have started with Herman, back in 2013.
“Tom Herman’s cash money,” said Garfield, who is now the head coach at Elgin. “You get the real every time you get with Coach Herman. Nothing is going to be taken on credit.”
Editor’s note: This is the sixth installment of a seven-part series about new Texas coach Tom Herman. American-Statesman staff writers Brian Davis and Danny Davis visited each of his previous coaching stops to learn about his journey from becoming a UT graduate assistant in 1999 to the head coach on Nov. 26, 2016.