In advance of Tom Herman’s first season at Houston, Hookem.com’s Ryan Autullo met with him for a wide-ranging interview delving into Twitter, his membership in Mensa and if he requires his assistants to be from Texas.
Here are some of the highlights of the 2015 The Statesman Interview: Tom Herman:
Is it a requirement that your coaches had to have been born in Texas or worked in Texas?
Herman: Eight of my nine assistants are from the state of Texas or have extremely strong ties to the state of Texas, and the ninth one, Todd Orlando, wishes he was from Texas. The answer to that question is yeah, it was a requirement — other than Todd. I wanted to get the best defensive coordinator that money could buy. Todd Orlando was certainly that. He had five or six job opportunities and chose to come to the University of Houston, and we’re blessed and thankful for that. Beyond that, I wanted guys who knew this state and who knew the recruiting landscape ‘cause it’s different. It’s the best high school football state in America, and in order to recruit it, I think you have to really develop strong relationships with the high school coaches. Between nine assistants and myself, we’ve got 134 years combined recruiting just the state of Texas.
Your program (University of Houston in 2013 and 2014) won eight games each of the past two years. Is there a balance between blowing this thing up and making small tweaks?
Herman: You’re the first person that’s asked me that. There is a bit of a balance because its not a 1-11 total rebuild, but I think one of the reasons that they’ve won around here is they’ve had better players than most of the teams they’ve played against. You subtract culture, coaching, strength and conditioning, and you’re probably still gonna stumble into six or seven wins a year. Our task was to go get even better players and to change the culture around here with toughness, both mentally and physically, and then accountability to each other and to the staff. We won a national championship with that model. It’s testimony. There is no hope that the plan works. It’s time-tested and it’s very proven. It’s necessary for us to get over that seven-, eight-win hump. This university deserves better than that. We deserve championships.
Saw on Twitter you’re still involved in the rivalry with Michigan. Is that enjoyable?
(In June 2015, Michigan passing game coordinator Jedd Fisch distributed a flyer comparing his credentials to those of Ohio State’s wide receivers coach Zach Smith. Herman fired back, firing off a tweet revealing Smith’s record as an assistant to be superior to Fisch’s.)
Herman: It is. Twitter gives you a forum to let loose a little bit and have fun. Obviously, as the head coach you have to be careful not to cross the line, but I certainly like getting right up to the edge of the line at times. It’s one thing to talk to a young man behind a closed door and maybe tell him some things, but to actually print a flyer like that to defame and/or slander a guy that just won a national championship coaching wide receivers who were an integral part of that run, I thought was a little over the top. I figured I needed to say something about it.
How does one become a member of Mensa International (Herman is)?
Herman: That has followed me on my résumé for awhile. Here’s the story: It’s my senior year in college and I’m not really sure what I want to do, so I start getting a résumé together. My mom says, hey you were in a bunch of gifted programs growing up, your IQ — at least when you were a kid — tested pretty high, and there’s this organization that might look pretty good on a résumé. I went and took the test and qualified and put it on my résumé. All of a sudden, my career path takes me into coaching. That and $1.50 will get me a cup of coffee in this profession, so it really doesn’t matter worth a hill of beans. It was on my résumé on my early stops and (sports information directors) write your bio based off what’s on your résumé. I’ve had multiple SIDs take it off, but somehow you guys find a way to find it out.
For the rest of the interview, including wanting to play Ohio State in the future, his recruiting staff and what he did to change the culture at the University of Houston, click here.
News on Bevo Beat is free and unlimited. Access to the rest of Hookem.com is included with an Austin American-Statesman subscription in addition to Statesman.com and the ePaper edition. Subscribe today at statesman.com/subscribe.