With the news that Tom Herman will be the next Texas Longhorns head coach having already made a splash, the ripples of filling out his debut coaching staff becomes Herman’s first priority.
Now stepping into a significantly brighter spotlight at what Herman has called his dream job at Texas, the newly-acquired ‘Horns head coach has high hopes for the staff he’ll construct in Austin.
One Texas source told me this morning that Herman aims to creat the greatest assembly of recruiters in the history of the state.— Geoff Ketchum (@gkketch) November 26, 2016
With an array of options based on previous and current relationships, targeting those who have previously succeeded on the 40 Acres, and potentially retaining a small collection of coaches currently in Austin, Herman has an abundance of options.
Per Orangebloods, it’s possible Herman soon extends a call to Florida State tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator Tim Brewster, and for good reason.
Something to keep an eye on... hearing if Herman is named UT coach, he could bring Tim Brewster, the man who landed Vince Young, with him.— Geoff Ketchum (@gkketch) November 26, 2016
Brewster has been in his current role with Florida State since 2013, but it’s possible he could join Herman in Austin to fill the same position he currently holds in Tallahassee. Brewster coached tight ends at Texas from 1998-2001, so he’s familiar with Herman from his time as a graduate assistant under Mack Brown.
Renowned as one of the best Lone Star State recruiters for nearly two decades, Brewster helped the Seminoles land No. 4 inside linebacker Dontavious Jackson in the 2016 class over the Longhorns.
In 2017, he’s kept Florida State in the mix with star Texas prospects like five-star safety Jeffrey Okudah, five-star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson, five-star offensive tackle Walker Little, and five-star linebacker Baron Browning.
The first calls made, though, will likely be to a bevy of high-level coordinator candidates.
Offensively, don’t rule out the possibility of Herman retaining first-year Texas play caller Sterlin Gilbert.
Per 247Sports, there was initially some belief that Major Applewhite would follow Herman for a return to Texas, but his name being on a 2013 lawsuit against the school could prove problematic, at the least, if not keep him from returning altogether.
Applewhite is also a frontrunner to take over head coaching duties as Houston, though that position is at least temporary in the hands of new interim head coach Todd Orlando, who remains a potential defensive coordinator addition to Herman’s staff.
Meanwhile, Gilbert’s offense — one led by a true freshman quarterback — produced seven 500-yard games in 2016, which serves as the most during a single season in school history.
However, struggles down the stretch and the fact that he runs a different offensive system than Herman could result in Gilbert’s departure, along with longtime colleague Matt Mattox, the offensive line coach and running game coordinator.
Other names to know, according to 247Sports, are TCU’s Sonny Cumbie, who turned Texas down last offseason before Gilbert was hired, Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley, Clemson’s Jeff Scott and Auburn’s Rhett Lashlee.
Of the current offensive coordinator candidates, retaining Gilbert or surfacing other options seem like the most realistic possibilities — it’s hard to imagine that those top names mentioned would leave high-profile positions to come to Texas.
Where Herman’s splash hire may come into play is with his defensive coordinator. There’s been plenty of talk that Herman would pursue first-year LSU coach Dave Aranda, with whom Herman was college roommates with at California Lutheran.
Reports indicate that the interest is mutual, but reports of LSU head coach Ed Orgeron’s long-term pitch to the decision-makers included retaining Aranda. This one could go either way.
As noted, the current Houston defensive coordinator is another possible candidate for the defensive coordinator role, but he is now Houston’s interim head coach, which could become a permanent gig.
Colorado’s defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt could be a name to know, as he has resurrected his reputation due to his success with the Buffaloes.
To fill out his positional coaching staff, Herman likely wouldn’t need to look much further than his former staff at Houston and the one that served under Strong.
Potential holdovers include tight ends coach Jeff Traylor, who is a great in-state recruiting resource in East Texas and could likely fill one of many positional roles after building his name as one of the most successful Texas high school coaches in recent memory.
Though it’s possible — and perhaps likely — that linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator Brian Jean-Mary follows Charlie Strong to wherever he lands next, retaining Jean-Mary could be a huge win for Herman, especially considering his hopes for a elite recruiting staff.
If I'm Tom Herman, I have to at least consider the idea of asking Brian Jean-Mary to join my staff. Big 12's best recruiter by a lot.— Geoff Ketchum (@gkketch) November 26, 2016
Of course, there’s a strong argument that Traylor is a better recruiter than Jean-Mary, so perhaps it’s better to merely conclude that both are extremely successful at what they do.
Texas defensive line coach Brick Haley is another potential holdover Herman may want to take a long look at and it’s possible that Oscar Giles, Herman’s defensive line coach at Houston and a former Texas assistant, heads back to the 40 Acres for the same role.
Herman could decide to combine defensive line coaching duties or split them up, depending on whether or not the defensive coordinator also takes on positional coaching responsibilities, as Will Muschamp and Manny Diaz did at Texas.
So it’s possible that Haley could stay and Giles could return to Austin.
Other candidates to follow Herman from Houston are Cougars wide receiver coach and former Longhorns assistant Darrell Wyatt and Cougars tight end coach Corby Meekins.
Wyatt would have been a much better choice for Charlie Strong to retain than his first hire at wide receivers coach, Les Koenning, and was successful during his tenure at Texas.
Meekins recruited the program’s first-ever five-star signee, Ed Oliver, after coaching him at Houston Westfield. The ties to high school football coaches in the state could be important on Herman’s staff, especially in the Houston area.
Cougars offensive line coach Derek Warehime is another potential addition to Herman’s staff at Texas after serving as his offensive line coach this season — Warehime was also on the Rice staff as a graduate assistant with Herman in 2007.
Warehime did an exceptional job in 2014 while having to play 11 different lineups in 14 games due to 34 games lost to injury, including three season-ending injuries.
Expect Herman to take a long look at the possibility of retaining current Texas offensive line coach Matt Mattox, who constructed an exceptional offensive line in 2016, despite being plagued with injuries. However, retaining Mattox would likely require retaining Gilbert.
Once again, a young Longhorns roster will experience a significant overhaul of its coaching staff, but if properly constructed, Herman’s coaching staff could be superior to any of the three under Strong, which was a noted weakness during his tenure.
And if Herman succeeds in creating an all-star cast of in-state recruiters?
The sky could be the limit for the Longhorns in the Tom Herman era.