Two straight losses featuring a combined 99 points allowed by the Texas Longhorns have the administration “very close” to firing head coach Charlie Strong after the season, once again sparking speculation about luring Houston Cougars head coach Tom Herman back to Austin.
Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports believes that the ‘Horns have the best shot of landing the former Texas graduate assistant. Here’s the exchange with Stewart Mandel on The Audible podcast:
Mandel: So if you’re a Texas fan right now, how many do you think are just now rooting for them to start losing more so that they can get him? Of course, it’s not a guarantee that you’d get him.
Feldman: I think it’s a guarantee you’d get him, or close to a guarantee you’d get him… I think it’s close to a guarantee if Charlie Strong is not the head coach that Texas will go get Tom Herman.
SM: Well, LSU fans aren’t going to want to hear that.
BF: Sorry LSU, your job isn’t quite as good as Texas.
As outlined by Cody Daniel on Tuesday, Strong still has an opportunity to save his job since the administration hasn’t yet made a firm decision on his future.
But there is a small window here — Herman declined numerous opportunities after last season and with Big 12 expansion quickly losing impetus, the Cougars aren’t going to receive the coveted invite that could keep the rising coaching star in the Space City.
So there’s little doubt that Herman will take another head coaching job this offseason, and there will be some appealing opportunities, including LSU and possibly Auburn and Texas.
Given Herman’s ties to the Texas program — including current offensive coordinator Major Applewhite — and his longtime ties to the state after several other coaching stops, there’s been speculation for about a year now surrounding Herman’s potential interest in the job.
As one of the most connected writers in college football, Feldman’s opinion carries quite a bit of weight. If he thinks Herman accepting the Texas job if it comes open is “close to a guarantee,” then it’s probably close to a guarantee.
And with Houston still playing at a high level and possibly headed towards an undefeated season, Herman is confirming that last season wasn’t a fluke, further increasing his stock.
When the 2016 season ends, if Strong manages to go 7-5, the worst record seen as likely to allow him a fourth season, do the ‘Horns opt to pass on Herman, perhaps for good?
If landing Herman is truly close to a guarantee, that hypothetical conundrum likely comes to a conclusion with Strong’s termination.