Texas coach Tom Herman’s decision to hire Auburn assistant Herb Hand has created far more palace intrigue than he probably intended.
On Wednesday, the university confirmed that Hand will be the Longhorns’ offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator. The 27-year coaching veteran was on the road recruiting for Auburn just last week. Now he’ll be on the road wearing a burnt-orange pullover.
The gregarious New York native loves spread and zone-read offensive concepts. He’s widely known for his love of cooking and once competed on the Food Network’s “Chopped.”
In April 2006, Hand suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage and needed brain surgery. In 2007 and 2008 at Tulsa, he helped the Golden Hurricane lead the nation in total offense. YouTube is full of videos that showcase Hand’s personality and how he’s impacted the local community wherever he’s coached.
Hand was named a finalist for the offensive line coach of the year three times by Football Scoop, and his lengthy résumé includes successful stints at West Virginia, Vanderbilt and Penn State. Hand, who just turned 50, would become the oldest voice on the UT coaching staff.
“We are extremely excited and honored to be joining the Longhorn family,” Hand said in a statement. The opportunity to join Herman’s staff at Texas “was one we could not pass up.”
But what does this hire mean for current offensive coordinator Tim Beck and offensive line coach Derek Warehime? Herman was on the road recruiting and was unavailable for comment, according to a team spokesman.
UT coaches are still working toward national signing day on Feb. 7. The Horns could sign possibly 6-8 more recruits to complete the 2018 class.
Hand does not have an extensive history calling plays, according to a source. So that probably rules out him of taking play-calling duties away from Beck.
It’s possible Hand received a co-offensive coordinator’s title to give him a pay bump. Hand earned $420,000 annually the last two years at Auburn. All UT assistants receive guaranteed, multi-year deals that must be approved by the UT System Board of Regents.
Hand’s extensive history coaching the offensive line trumps that of Warehime, who got his first full-time job in 2008. Hand was on three different staffs when that offense produced that school’s all-time leading rusher.
Auburn had the 25th-best scoring offense last season and averaged 218.3 rushing yards per game. Tigers fans were aghast at the offensive line’s performance against Central Florida in the Peach Bowl; quarterback Jarrett Stidham was sacked six times.
It seems unlikely that Warehime would be pushed out. Herman was emphatic in November that his current staff would return intact in 2018. The NCAA allowed for the hiring of a 10th assistant coach beginning in January.
“As an aspiring young coach, I spent a great deal of time studying the best offenses around the country, and his group was continually one of them,” Herman said in a statement. “They were as well coached up front as I’ve seen, so when I was looking to fill our 10th coach position and he was interested, we had a great visit, and we’re thrilled we were able to get him.”
But Herman also admitted he did not personally know Hand previously. Every coach on Herman’s staff currently has some connection to his past. This hire represents Herman stepping out of his comfort zone.
“Though we haven’t worked together or personally met before discussing our position, Herb is someone I’ve admired since our teams played each other at Rice and Tulsa,” Herman said in a statement. “I was extremely impressed then and have continued to be in the years since.”
Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.