I’m not ashamed to admit that I still follow Tom Herman, the former Head Football coach of the University of Houston, who is now the Head Coach at the University of Texas, on Twitter. I liken my choice to follow him, despite his departure from the university, to the way that many people often “cyber stalk” people on any social media website. In most cases there is always a risk of getting your feelings hurt when you choose to keep up with somebody from your past.
Coach Herman did everything he could to encourage support for the University of Houston football team. From serving as the Parade Marshall of the famed Houston Rodeo, to visiting classrooms to speak to students about the important role that fan support plays to the team, Coach Herman was a very vocal supporter of the city and the university. One of the most notable things that he did, at least to me, was getting a custom University of Houston grill in the fulfillment of a promise to one of his players. The fact that a 40 year old man got a grill, which is a prominent symbol of Houston rap culture, was extremely outlandish, but well received. Getting a grill is one of the the most “Houston” things a person could do. Paul Wall and Johnny Dang, two people who popularized the piece of flashy mouth jewelry worldwide, came to the University and sat in Coach Herman’s office to personally fit him for the piece. Antics such as this, in addition to statements he often in made about our University being “the best school in the best city in America” makes his departure to the University of Texas even more disheartening.
During a press conference, Herman ran down his defensive lineman. He called them “fat guys” and said their effort had been lacking through the winter practices. He then took a subliminal shot at the University I love dearly. Herman stated that Defensive Coordinator Todd Orlando “has made chicken salad out of lesser parts.”
The “lesser parts” comment was completely out of place. In 2014, the season before Herman, the Cougar defense allowed 268 points. Herman-led teams gave up 290 and 305 points. For reference, the defense was ranked 16th in 2014 with 20.6 points given up per game, and 30th in the 2016 season with 23.5 points given up per game. Statistically speaking, the defense was better when coordinated by David Gibbs than Todd Orlando.
Additionally, the defense inherited by Herman and his staff consisted of Steven Taylor, BJ Singleton, Adrian McDonald, Trevon Stewart, Howard Wilson, Elandon Roberts, and William Jackson III. All the players listed were among the top 15 tacklers on the 2014 team. Also, Tyus Bowser, who has been shooting up draft boards recently, was only a Sophomore during that campaign.
Did the Cougars win more games when coached by Tom Herman than Tony Levine? Yes. But, there was already talent in place. Between 2014 and 2016, five defensive players have gone on to the play in the NFL. William Jackson was drafted in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft, the only player drafted from the Longhorns was defensive lineman Hassan Ridgeway, and he was chosen in the fourth round. Herman calls Elandon Roberts “one of the best leaders ever” and a member of his “Leadership Hall of Fame.” Those types of compliments aren’t generally given to “lesser parts.”
Despite all that, Tom Herman is the past. Major Applewhite is the future.
Oh, and we want our grill back.
Let’s be great.