Each week during the season, the USA TODAY Sports college staff (Nicole Auerbach, Paul Myerberg, George Schroeder and Dan Wolken) will provide their answers to on an intriguing question from college football. This week:
It is only Oct. 7, but the coaching carousel already is in motion, and seats for many coaches are heating up. With that in mind, where do you expect Houston’s Tom Herman to be next year?
I'll go with USC — that is, if the USC brass is willing, for once, to hire someone who did not coach or play at USC previously. I'd love to see Herman with all his personality and innate marketing ability and talent as a recruiter as the face of this program, a program that hasn't been where it believes it belongs since Pete Carroll left.
The Trojans need a home run hire, especially after their mistake elevating interim coach Clay Helton to the permanent gig at the end of last season. Herman would be a grand slam.
It has to be Texas, which has already rolled out the red carpet for an offseason coaching changes by sending unsubtle messages about Charlie Strong’s tenuous job security. Yes, Herman was raised in USC country, and LSU is not without its draw to an offense-minded head coach.
But Texas provides the best combination of money, prestige and the potential for immediate success — since the Longhorns are running a spread offense in 2016, and nearly all major high schools in the state use some variation of Herman’s system.
It’s cool to think that if the Big 12 were to expand and Houston got the call-up, Tom Herman might take the automatic pay bump in his contract and continue the #HTownTakeover. That’s cool as in quaint. Houston’s a good job. In the Big 12, it obviously would become a better job. But it’s not LSU or Texas or USC. LSU has an opening. Texas and USC might soon, too.
If all three open, Herman is headed to Texas. It’s one of the best jobs in the country, and never mind the Big 12’s current on-field issues — or maybe in part because of them — the conference provides a much smoother path to the College Football Playoff than the SEC, at least, and probably the Pac-12, too.
If Charlie Strong doesn’t make it and the powers that be don’t blow their chance — I know, that last part is asking a lot — Herman is their next coach.
I wouldn't have said this three weeks ago, but as of right now I think Herman to Texas is looking like the most likely outcome. There are just too many factors right now pointing that direction. First and foremost, the Charlie Strong era seems to be on life support and may very well depend on whether Texas can beat Oklahoma on Saturday.
Texas isn't going to let itself be outflanked by LSU in the Herman sweepstakes, and with Big 12 expansion now seeming less likely I would bet that Herman ends up at one of those two spots. Herman's recruiting ability in the state of Texas is proven throughout his entire career, and he knows that he'd walk into a roster full of good young players at Texas.
With the Big 12 still down, it wouldn't be much of a rebuilding job at all. If he has his choice, I think Texas is the destination.