Head Coach Tom Herman of the Houston Cougars celebrates after the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl against the Florida State Seminoles at the Georgia Dome on December 31, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

BEVO BEAT Football

Questions about Charlie Strong’s departure, Tom Herman’s arrival

Posted November 26th, 2016

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Here’s a look at some key questions involving Charlie Strong’s departure and Tom Herman arrival at Texas:

What happens to Strong’s staff?

At the moment, they’re in limbo. Any new coach will have the choice of interviewing, hiring or ignoring the current staff members. Linebackers coach Brian Jean-Mary is considered one of the best recruiters in the Big 12. Tight ends coach Jeff Traylor has deep ties in East Texas, too. Offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert has spent a full year working with freshman quarterback Shane Buechele. Every coach will get paid for 2017 as part of their guaranteed deals. Only three coaches have contracts that stretch in 2018.

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What are possible next destinations for Strong?

Texas is a rare bird — an athletic superpower with a huge platform where the CEO must be a part-time coach and part-time politician. Not many schools require that level of intense commitment. That being said, it’s quite possible that Strong could flourish at a smaller school. What administrator wouldn’t love his core values and high-character approach? Strong is scheduled to receive $10.7 million as part of his UT buyout. At 56, Strong doesn’t seem like he’s anywhere close to retirement.

Why was this hire made so quickly?

The Longhorns may have been spooked by reports on Thursday that Herman was close to signing with LSU. Now, it’s unclear how close Herman really was to signing with the Tigers and jilting his dream school. Whatever the case, UT President Gregory L. Fenves and athletic director Mike Perrin knew they had to act fast. Both spent the evening with Herman, according to the new coach’s statement, and sealed the deal. Herman is the hottest name on the market. If Texas didn’t scoop him up, someone else would.

Can any Houston players follow Tom Herman to Texas?

It’s conceivable that (former Texas A&M) quarterback Kyle Allen could finish out his school work at Houston, earn his diploma and come to Austin as a graduate transfer. But generally speaking, all players are subject to NCAA transfer rules. Anyone who wants to transfer must sit out a year. That’s hard for upperclassmen to do. Freshman defensive lineman Ed Oliver dominated Louisville earlier this month. If he’s looking at getting to the NFL, he wouldn’t want to transfer, sit out one season and basically delay his path to the pros.

Westlake quarterback Sam Ehlinger during their key game against Lake Travis. Ehlinger is a UT football commitment. Westlake hosts Lake Travis in a key district 14-6A matchup at Chaparral Stadium Friday night in Austin on Oct. 23, 2015. RALPH BARRERA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Westlake quarterback Sam Ehlinger during their key game against Lake Travis. Ehlinger is a UT football commitment. Westlake hosts Lake Travis in a key district 14-6A matchup at Chaparral Stadium Friday night in Austin on Oct. 23, 2015.
RALPH BARRERA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN

How will this affect recruiting?

The Longhorns currently have seven commitments for the 2017 class. The good news is that Texas doesn’t have many scholarships to give. This year’s senior class is small (13 scholarships) so Herman may be able to sign only 15-16 players. The majority of the team returns in 2017. Thirty-seven players on the team’s 44-man depth chart are projected to return.

Might this affect D’Onta Foreman’s NFL decision either way?

Hard to say. “A lot to be considered right now,” a source familiar with D’Onta Foreman’s thinking said on Saturday. Foreman is headed to Atlanta as a Doak Walker Award finalist. He just might win it, too, after rushing for 2,028 yards in 11 games. Foreman is the second player in UT history to break the 2,000-yard barrier in a single season.

What will Houston do now?

Defensive coordinator Todd Orlando was named the interim coach for Houston’s upcoming bowl game.

What about Major Applewhite?

It’s unclear if Applewhite, UH’s offensive coordinator and former Texas quarterback legend, can come back or if he wants to. Applewhite is a key figure in the ongoing legal drama between the university and former track coach Bev Kearney, who is suing UT based on race and gender discrimination. It may be better for Applewhite to stay put and interview for the head coaching job at Houston.

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

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