Texas administrators announced the dismissal of football coach Charlie Strong after three seasons Saturday morning and, by mid-afternoon, presented Houston’s Tom Herman as his replacement.
Herman, who just finished his second season at Houston with a 9-3 record, was also a finalist for the LSU job that went Saturday to interim coach Ed Orgeron. Herman expressed his preference for the Texas job Saturday morning, allowing both schools to fill vacancies and leading Houston to appoint defensive coordinator Todd Orlando as the interim coach for the Cougars’ bowl game.
Herman, 41, will be introduced at a Sunday news conference in Austin. His contract is pending approval by the UT System Board of Regents. Details will be released after it is approved.
Herman, a former graduate assistant at Texas (1999-2000) and the offensive coordinator for Ohio State’s 2014 national championship team, posted a 22-4 record in two seasons at Houston, including victories over top-10 teams from Florida State, Oklahoma and Louisville. He played in college as an all-conference receiver at California Lutheran and earned a master’s degree in education from Texas in 2000.
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Herman has deep recruiting ties to the state, having worked as an assistant coach on staffs at Sam Houston State (2001-04), Texas State (2005-06) and Rice (2007-08), in addition to his seasons at Houston and Texas.
The opportunity to come back to Texas is a dream come true for me and my family… I’m excited to be the head coach at the flagship university of the greatest state in the union.
Tom Herman, who will be introduced Sunday as head football coach of the Texas Longhorns
“The opportunity to come back to Texas is a dream come true for me and my family,” Herman said in a statement issued by the school. “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 … I’m excited to be the head coach at the flagship university of the greatest state in the union.”
In announcing Herman’s hire, Texas men’s athletics director Mike Perrin said: “I’m thrilled to have Tom Herman joining us as our head football coach. I am impressed with his insights … He clearly has a passion and respect for the game of football, and also, a passion for teaching young men the game and the life lessons that come with that.”
The Texas job officially opened Saturday when the school announced it was parting ways with Strong after three seasons and a 16-21 record. During Strong’s tenure, the Longhorns did not post a winning record in any season, finishing 6-7, 5-7 and 5-7. It marked the first time for the school to post three consecutive losing records since a four-year stretch from 1935-38.
The Longhorns were 12-15 in Big 12 play under Strong, whose final contest was Friday’s 31-9 loss to TCU in Austin. Strong’s teams finished with an 11-11 mark against unranked opponents during his tenure, including a 24-21 overtime loss to Kansas on Nov. 19 that allowed the Jayhawks to break a 19-game losing streak against Big 12 opponents.
1938 Last time Kansas beat Texas before last week’s Jayhawks victory.
In a statement, Perrin said: “Decisions like this are tough to make … This was an important year for our program to take the next step, and the results simply aren’t there. So we’ve decided to make a change.”
Strong is due $10.7 million from the school to cover the final two seasons of a five-year contract he signed to replace Mack Brown starting with the 2014 season.
Even after Friday’s loss to TCU, which marked the first time the Horned Frogs had defeated the Longhorns in three consecutive seasons since 1938, Strong lobbied to return in 2017. He was more subdued in the statement he released Saturday.
“It’s a very difficult day for me, my family and all of the people affected by this decision,” Strong said. “I’m most disappointed for these kids and our staff who have poured so much of their lives into this program for the last three years. 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.”
11-11 Strong’s record against unranked opponents.
Strong’s only bowl team during his Texas tenure came in his first season, when the Longhorns finished 6-7 and lost to Arkansas 31-7 in the 2014 Texas Bowl. The 2014 season also marked the only time during his Texas tenure that one of Strong’s teams posted as much as a three-game winning streak.
The Longhorns opened this season with two consecutive victories, including a 50-47 upset of then-No. 10 Notre Dame, before falling Sept. 17 at California 50-43. That setback marked the start of a 3-7 stretch to close Strong’s final season in Austin.
In a statement, university President Gregory Fenves said: “Charlie Strong is an outstanding leader and role model … In the end, the results over three seasons were not there. It was not clear the future was going to be at the levels expected of Longhorn football.”
I’m most disappointed for these kids and our staff who have poured so much of their lives into this program for the last three years.
Departing Texas coach Charlie Strong
Hunter Yurachek, Houston’s vice president for athletics, said school officials were “grateful” for Herman’s contributions the past two seasons.
“In his short time in Houston, Tom Herman elevated the Houston football program to new heights,” Yurachek said in a statement. “We are grateful for his contributions to our program. We will immediately turn our focus to identifying the next leader of our program.”