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Report: Win over Louisville has Texas boosters pushing for Houston HC Tom Herman

The calculus changed for Charlie Strong this week.

NCAA Football: Tulane at Houston Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

An October loss to SMU cooled Texas boosters on Houston head coach Tom Herman, but this week’s shocking upset of No. 5-ranked Louisville once again has Longhorns power brokers pressuring the administration to oust head coach Charlie Strong, according to a report from ESPN.

In fact, Brett McMurphy characterized the movement against Strong as featuring “extreme pressure” on president Greg Fenves, so finishing out the season with two wins may not be enough for the third-year coach to keep his job — if the big-money donors get their way.

And that may not happen, despite the surge in interest in Herman, who in the past was reportedly extremely interested in the possibility of returning to Texas as the head coach. Herman was a graduate assistant under former head coach Mack Brown from 1999-2000.

That’s because it’s not clear that Fenves would easily succumb to that pressure if he decides that he wants to keep Strong once the season ends — the Austin American-Statesman reported this week that the president keeps “an extremely tight circle of confidants,” meaning that boosters pushing for Herman could be “unlikely to have any real sway.”

And since athletic director Mike Perrin doesn’t have any previous experience on the job, Fenves is seen as the key decision maker regarding Strong’s future at Texas. If the Longhorns decided to part with Strong, it would cost a $10 million buyout, in addition to the likely buyouts associated with replacing assistants like offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert who signed guaranteed contracts.

So it would become extremely expensive to land Herman, who has a $2.25 million buyout at Houston, with a source speculating to ESPN that bidding would begin at $5.5 million per season.

There are plenty of possible suitors for Herman, including Baylor, LSU, and possibly even Texas A&M as boosters there are turning against head coach Kevin Sumlin following two bad losses. Other schools could enter the fray at the end of the regular season.

Herman may not be a slam dunk for Fenves, though, as Orangebloods reported this week that a “red flag” regarding Herman was revealed to decision makers. While speculation ran rampant for some time about the nature of that issue with the 41-year -old head coach, the site eventually revealed that it had something to do with Herman enjoying going out with his friends.

Not disqualifying for Texas, most likely, but Fenves likes Strong’s emphasis on graduating his players and ensuring that they stay out of trouble while on campus. And there has been evident progress on the field, despite the 5-5 record.

Essentially, Fenves will have to tune out the boosters to the extent possible to determine whether the large financial expenditure to land Herman would be worth the (likely minimal) risk associated with the hire. Not only that, but the decision this fall could be final in regards to Texas and Herman — if the current Houston head coach leaves for another high-profile job, the odds of him coming to Austin in the future would decrease dramatically.

High stakes for a president who hasn’t made a big hire in football or basketball, especially with Herman once again looking so appealing and concerns swirling about Strong’s in-game management and overall organizational abilities.

Why Charlie Strong should be the Texas head coach next season.

Posted by Burnt Orange Nation on Friday, November 18, 2016