Football

Tom Herman welcomes the pressure of winning at Texas

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Story highlights
  • Tom Herman: “Pressure is that uneasy feeling that you feel when you’re unprepared.”
  • New coach will interview all of former coach Charlie Strong's assistants on Monday.
  • Mack Brown: “This isn’t going to be new for him. He’s just moving a couple hours west.”

Posted November 27th, 2016

New Texas coach Tom Herman was pitch-perfect during his introductory press conference on Sunday at Bellmont Hall. If he can remain undefeated next fall, Longhorns fans will love him.

Winning has been a problem lately. After three straight losing seasons, Texas fans are starved for someone to turn things around. They hope this 41-year-old coaching wunderkind is the answer.

“The Texas fan base I don’t think is any different from any great fan base in terms of their desire to win championships,” Herman said. “I welcome that. I think that’s great.

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“Trust me, I’ve been places where winning didn’t matter much and where being average was OK,” he added. “That’s certainly not the case here. We welcome that.”

Gregory L. Fenves, Tom Herman and Executive Senior Athletic Director for UT Austin and Athletic director Mike Perrin poses as the show the hook’em sign after the press conference in the Carpenter-Winkel Centennial Room of the Belmont Hall on Sunday, November 27, 2016. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Gregory L. Fenves, Tom Herman and Mike Perrin pose and show the Hook ’em hand sign after the press conference in the Centennial Room of the Belmont Hall on Sunday, November 27, 2016.
RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Herman thanked University of Houston officials for the last two seasons. He then thanked UT President Gregory L. Fenves and men’s athletic director Mike Perrin for “committing to being aligned with our plan,” an acknowledgement that the coach will have free reign inside the football complex.

“Pressure is that uneasy feeling that you feel when you’re unprepared,” Herman said. “We’re prepared for this job. We’re prepared for success at this job. We’re prepared for adversity in this job, so I don’t feel any sense of pressure at all.”

Fenves and Perrin couldn’t have been happier. It’s the kind of hire that will define both of their tenures, however long or short they may be. Herman agreed to a five-year contract worth more than $5 million annually and will rise to more than $6 million. It could be finalized by the UT System Board of Regents in a special meeting this week.

“Out of respect for those involved, we will not share further details about the search,” Fenves said, “but what is important is that in the end, we got our man.”

[brightcove_video video_id=”5226073708001 ” caption=”Texas announced the hiring of Houston coach Tom Herman as the 30th head coach in Texas football history. Herman was introduced at a press conference on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016.”]

Fenves said he wasn’t fazed by reports last Thursday that indicated Herman was close to signing a deal with LSU. “I turned off my Twitter account a week ago,” Fenves said.

Herman will interview every member of former coach Charlie Strong’s staff beginning at 8 a.m. Monday. He’s expected to move quickly on assembling a new staff. Reports in Houston indicated that four UH assistants are likely headed to Austin.

Before the press conference, Herman met with the current Longhorns and stressed that as much as he loves his players, “T-L-C needs to be earned. This is not going to be Camp Texas around here, I can tell you that.,” he said.

Herman said he understood that some players may feel an emotional attachment to Strong. The new coach called his predecessor “a heck of a man and a heck of a football coach.” Some of the things Herman does will be similar to how Strong ran things, he said.

“But I also told them that the definition of insanity is repeatedly performing the same act expecting different results,” Herman said. “We need to change some things. But that certainly doesn’t take away from their emotions and passion for coach Strong.”

Tom Herman joke with former Head Coach of Texas Mack Brown after the press conference in the Carpenter-Winkel Centennial Room of the Bellmont Hall on Sunday, November 27, 2016. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Tom Herman jokes with former coach Mack Brown after the press conference in the Centennial Room of the Bellmont Hall on Sunday, November 27, 2016.
RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Herman fielded multiple questions about his two years as a graduate assistant under then-coach Mack Brown in 1999 and 2000. In that low-level grunt role, if they asked you make 10 copies, you made 12, Herman said. If they asked you bring a pencil, you brought three.

“This isn’t going to be new for him. He’s just moving a couple hours west,” Brown said. “What you saw in ’99 is what you see today. He’s very bright, very passionate and cares about everything he does.”

Herman also knocked it out of the park when it comes to addressing the Texas high school coaches. Three years ago, Strong said the right things, but the fact remained he was an outsider. He had little in-state ties. Not Herman.

Herman coached at Sam Houston State, Texas State and Rice from 2001-08. He kept the relationships going as the offensive coordinator at Iowa State and Ohio State. Houston’s recruiting class ranked 92nd nationally in 2015. But after the Cougars went 13-1, their 2016 class finished 36th, according to 247Sports.

The Longhorns have just seven commitments for the 2017 class but may sign only 15-17 players total.

Herman’s most important recruiting pitch may be to keep junior D’Onta Foreman from going pro. Foreman has a huge decision ahead after rushing for more than 2,000 yards for a 5-7 team. Herman hopes to talk with Foreman on Monday, too.

Legendary coach Darrell Royal’s widow, Edith, enjoyed Herman’s presentation, as did Frank Denius, whose name adorns the practice fields. “The first press conference is the best one,” Brown joked.

Now for Herman, it’s time to get busy winning.

“Finally I am truly honored and humbled to be the next coach at the University of Texas,” Herman said.

Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com.

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