To qualify for entrance into Mensa, a potential member must score at or above the 98th percentile on a standard test of intelligence.
Near the end of his college career, new Texas Longhorns head coach Tom Herman qualified at his mother’s suggestion because he thought it would look good on his resume.
No big deal.
“It did come in handy once,” Herman told the Washington Post. “When I was an assistant at Texas State, my boss, David Bailiff, was interviewed for the Rice job. He came back and said to me, ‘Hey, Tom, you still in that Mensa thing?’
“I said I was, and he said, ‘Good, because I told the Rice people that my offensive coordinator is so smart he’s in this Mensa thing, so he can really relate to the kind of smart kids who go to Rice.’ ”
Herman had to promptly get online to renew his membership, but not only did he relate to the smart kids who go to Rice, he helped them set 40 school records over his two seasons with the Owls.
The 2008 team even won 10 games and played in a school’s first bowl game since 1954.
A major in business administration at California Lutheran, Herman is a fan of crossword puzzles and reading in his limited free time.
“I try to read a lot of nonfiction about leaders and business people and others who've been successful in all facets of life,” he told Mensa in an interview.
Think Mike Leach, but instead of learning how to wield a pirate’s sword, Herman sharpens his intellect and leadership abilities.
The interest in lifelong learning — Herman has a master’s degree in education from Texas — spills over to the football field, where the new Texas head coach takes an intense interest in the education of his student athletes.
At Houston, that resulted in a cumulative team GPA in his first year that stood as the second-highest mark in program history.
At Ohio State, the Buckeyes had a program called Real Life Wednesdays that emphasized life after football in the working world.
The entrance into a post-football reality is more difficult for athletes, Herman believes, because they invest so heavily in practice and film work that it keeps them from other extracurricular activities.
“Every Wednesday we bring in someone with real-world knowledge to talk to the team,” Herman said. “It might be how to buy insurance, how to maintain your credit score, real-life stuff. Then we also bring in guys with different professional experiences, everything from FBI agents to entrepreneurs to corporate CEOs.
“Those sessions culminate in a job fair at the end of the year for just our athletes, where there are something like 75 to 100 companies represented. We work with them so that hopefully when their playing days are up they'll have a leg up in this competitive job environment.”
In addition to placing a clear and demonstrative emphasis on the personal development of his players, Herman even has a similar mantra to former Texas head coach Charlie Strong.
“Belief that influences behavior influences results.”
Under Strong, that idea coalesced into the simple slogan #Believe.
Under Herman, the slogan takes the next step into an easy-to-remember adage.
“If your players believe in what you’re telling them, no matter how trivial the subject, no matter how important the subject, then it influences the way they behave, and that will influence results,” he told the Washington Post. “I’m not honestly sure if I read that somewhere or if I just thought of it, but it’s what I brought here, and, so far, the kids have bought in.”
It worked in Houston.
Here’s guessing it works in Austin.