Texas gets its top tar­get in Tom Her­man

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Jim Ver­tuno AP Col­lege Foot­ball Writer Ralph D. Russo con­trib­uted to this re­port.

Tom Her­man now gets his chance for a Texas takeover.

Her­man, who coached Hous­ton to na­tional promi­nence the last two sea­sons, was an­nounced as the new Texas coach Satur­day, re­plac­ing Char­lie Strong, who was fired in the morn­ing af­ter three con­sec­u­tive los­ing sea­sons.

“Longhorn foot­ball has been — and al­ways will be — a na­tional power, win­ning and play­ing for na­tional cham­pi­onships with great pride and passion, sup­ported by an un­be­liev­able fan base,” Her­man said in state­ment re­leased by Texas.

Con­tract de­tails were not im­me­di­ately re­leased, and must still be ap­proved by Texas’ Board of Re­gents. Texas still owes Strong nearly $11 mil­lion on his orig­i­nal five-year guaranteed con­tract.

Texas acted quickly to snag Her­man, who has only two years of ex­pe­ri­ence as a head coach but is 22-4 with the Cougars, with a 9-3 mark this sea­son af­ter Fri­day’s loss to Mem­phis . Her­man’s name had emerged as a top tar­get for Texas of­fi­cials as Strong’s fi­nal sea­son started 2-0 but faded to a 5-7 fin­ish.

Her­man’s brief stint at Hous­ton gal­va­nized the Cougars pro­gram. The coach coined the phrase “HTown Takeover” in a bid to en­er­gize the lo­cal fan base and keep Hous­ton-area re­cruits at home.

The 41-year-old Her­man now gets a chance to do the same at one of col­lege foot­ball’s blue-blood pro­grams, stocked with money, pres­tige, its own tele­vi­sion net­work and a fever­ish fan base.

Her­man was of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor at Ohio State when the Buck­eyes won the 2014 sea­son na­tional cham­pi­onship. He spent a sea­son at Texas as a grad­u­ate assistant early in his ca­reer un­der for­mer Longhorns coach Mack Brown.

Her­man’s record at Hous­ton and big wins over top pro­grams such as Florida State and Ok­la­homa had pushed the Cougars into early-sea­son Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off con­tenders as well as can­di­dates for a move to the Big 12. Nei­ther sce­nario hap­pened, how­ever, as the Cougars dropped mid­sea­son games against Navy and SMU and the Big 12 chose not to ex­pand .

Her­man was reg­u­larly men­tioned as a pos­si­ble can­di­date at sev­eral schools, no­tably LSU . But most of the at­ten­tion fo­cused on Texas, where Strong was in his third los­ing sea­son in a row.

“Tom was the hottest young head coach in the coun­try the past two sea­sons, and I am thrilled we are able to get him back to UT to lead Texas foot­ball,” Texas Pres­i­dent Greg Fenves said.

Hous­ton Vice Pres­i­dent for Ath­let­ics Hunter Yu­rachek said the univer­sity was grate­ful to Her­man for his two years. De­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Todd Or­lando will be Hous­ton’s in­terim head coach for its up­com­ing bowl game.

“In his short time in Hous­ton, Tom Her­man el­e­vated the Hous­ton Foot­ball pro­gram to new heights, and we are grate­ful for his con­tri­bu­tions to our pro­gram. The en­tire Univer­sity of Hous­ton com­mu­nity wishes he and his fam­ily con­tin­ued suc­cess in this new chap­ter in their lives,” Yu­rachek said.

Texas is des­per­ate for a re­turn to the na­tion’s elite. The Longhorns had a decade-long run of 10win sea­sons un­der Mack Brown from 2000-2009, a span that in­cluded two Big 12 cham­pi­onships, one na­tional cham­pi­onship and play­ing for an­other.

But Texas hasn’t won a Big 12 ti­tle since 2009 and Strong was just 16-21 over­all, end­ing with a 31-9 loss to TCU on Fri­day.

Her­man takes over a pro­gram that most see as loaded with tal­ent that just hasn’t been able to win. Strong’s re­cruit­ing classes were ranked among the best in the coun­try the Longhorns’ two-deep ros­ter is stocked mostly with sopho­mores and fresh­men. One of Her­man’s first jobs may be sit­ting down with ju­nior run­ning back D’Onta Fore­man, who rushed for more than 2,000 yards this sea­son, to gauge whether Fore­man plans to turn pro.

Her­man said he met with Fenves and Texas ath­letic di­rec­tor Mike Per­rin well in the pre-dawn hours Satur­day to reach an agree­ment.

“I came away very im­pressed with their uni­fied vi­sion and com­mit­ment to foot­ball, and I’m ex­cited to be the head coach at the flag­ship univer­sity of the great­est state in the union. I am ea­ger to get to Austin as soon as pos­si­ble, to spend time with our stu­dent-ath­letes and to get to work,” Her­man said.

Strong was the first black head foot­ball coach in Texas his­tory and many of his play­ers had pleaded this week for him to be al­lowed to re­turn. De­spite swirling re­ports that he would be fired, school ad­min­is­tra­tors had pledged no de­ci­sion would be made un­til af­ter the fi­nal game.

“It’s a very dif­fi­cult day for me, my fam­ily and all of the peo­ple af­fected by this de­ci­sion,” Strong said. “I do un­der­stand that it comes down to wins and losses, and we have not done our job in that area yet. I ac­cept full re­spon­si­bil­ity for that, but know in my heart that we ac­com­plished our pri­mary goal, which is the de­vel­op­ment of young men.”

JOHN BAZEMORE — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE

In this file photo, Hous­ton head coach Tom Her­man watches play against Florida State dur­ing the first half of the Peach Bowl NCAA col­lege foot­ball game in At­lanta. He has been hired as the head coach for Texas.

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