On Monday, the Texas Longhorns announced the additions of four members of his football staff — defensive coordinator Todd Orlando, assistant Craig Naivar, strength and conditioning coach Yancy McKnight, and Director of Football Operations Tory Teykl.
"I couldn't be more excited about adding this group of tremendous coaches and staff to our team at Texas," Herman said. "Todd is as good as it comes in a defensive coordinator. He did an unbelievable job for us at Houston and has long track record of leading defenses that speaks for itself. Craig was a critical part of our defensive staff at Houston and brings deep Texas roots and great relationships across this state.
"Your strength coach is one of the most important members of your staff because he's with the kids year around, and Yancy has everything you'd ever want in that position. He will work these kids extremely hard, really get to know them as young men and do a terrific job getting this team ready both physically and mentally to win a lot of games. Tory, like our other administrative staffers, is great in her role, totally aligned with our coaches and critical to the success of our program."
Herman’s staff at Texas now features every defensive coach he hired when he took the job at Houston in 2015. Of those coaches, Orlando was the only one with whom Herman had not worked before. However, Herman had tracked Orlando during his previous two stops at Utah State and FIU.
More importantly, Orlando’s multiple 3-4 defense fit with what Herman wanted.
"I want great teachers [on defense]. We've got to be great tacklers. I wanted a very sound base defense. I wanted to base out of a 3-4, because I knew it was always a big challenge for me game-planning against teams that were really good out of that,” Herman told SB Nation.
"But I wanted to have a guy who knew how to pressure people and knew the strengths and weaknesses of different blitzes. I've gotta tell you, I think I hit a home run in getting Todd Orlando."
Two years later, Orlando is in Austin after running an aggressive unit that scored five defensive touchdowns this season and ranks No. 14 nationally in sacks and tackles for loss. In 2015, Houston led the nation in takeaways with 35.
"Our defense is going to be multiple," Orlando said. "It's an attack kind of mode. It's player friendly in terms of the concepts, and it's very learnable. To have some of the athletes that I know we are going to have here to be able to do it will be exciting."
Alignment is a key part of Herman’s overall program philosophy. He also places a high value on being able to trust his assistants, so the relationship between the two was key to ensuring that the partnership will continue to be a success with the Longhorns.
"Getting a chance to work with somebody for two years, you understand what they want," Orlando said of Herman. "The biggest part is doing things that a head coach doesn't have to worry about. There's a certain way things are done, and he should not have to explain that to guys he's been with. I think that's really important. The staff itself, having worked with those guys, they understand their roles and understand what we have to do."
While Orlando was the biggest unknown for Herman on his first staff with the Cougars, Naivar was the most known commodity — he has now spent 10 seasons working with Herman, dating back to their days at Sam Houston State.
The co-defensive coordinator, assistant head coach, and safeties coach at Houston, Naivar has spent 18 of his 23 years coaching working in the state of Texas, giving his deep ties. Despite all those different stops, Naivar is fulfilling a lifelong dream in returning to the Austin area.
"I'm really fired up about this opportunity," Naivar said. "I grew up in Taylor, Texas, right down the road from when I was five years old until I graduated from high school. I came to every Texas home football game. My mother has passed, but she worked at The University with the College Board, so this has been a dream of mine to work here."
As the extension of Herman’s voice during the offseason, McKnight is a critical piece of Herman’s staff who also has extensive experience working with the new Texas head coach — McKnight first worked with Herman at Rice under David Bailiff, then joined him at Iowa State.
"I'm ready for the challenge and ready to get to work," McKnight said. "I'm looking forward to getting with our players. It's a big-time opportunity. I think the expectations and traditions at The University of Texas are obvious. That's what we're going to expect on a day-to-day basis in every single rep, every single practice, and every single day that we train. It's all going to be about winning championships."
Like the other three coaches, Teykl held a similar position at Houston after graduating from Texas A&M with degrees in business administration and sports management. She was also a recruiting assistant for the program during his time in College Station.