Seemingly every season, college football has a couple up-and-coming head coaches emerge as targets for top programs hiring new top men. This season, that coach is undoubtedly Tom Herman, the current head coach at Houston.
ESPN's Chris Low and Brett McMurphy reported Herman is moving toward a deal with LSU. Before Houston's regular-season finale against Memphis, Herman told ESPN reporters "not to believe what they read," adding that reports he was nearing a deal with LSU are false.
[caption id="attachment_3744241" align="alignnone" width="940"] Tom Herman has emerged as the top option for big programs, LSU and Texas.[Image by Eric Christian Smith/AP Images][/caption]
Herman's name has also emerged in talks of the University of Texas' next head football coach. While the team hasn't fired current head coach Charlie Strong yet, Mike Finger of the Houston Chronicle reports Strong will be fired at season's end. That opens the door at Texas, in the same recruiting area Herman has been the last couple years at Houston.
Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel hypothesizes Texas' leadership won't be able to pull off the Herman hire but says Herman would say "yes" to the Longhorns if they came knocking. It would appear Herman is in the enviable position of having two college football blue bloods competing for his services.
As Thamel pointed out, LSU's leadership appears more poised to make a move for Herman, but Texas is desperate to go in another direction, and nobody should count them out of the bidding for Herman until he's hired somewhere else.
Herman Emerges as Top Coaching Candidate
Herman's coaching career actually began at Texas, where he was a graduate assistant working with the offensive line in 1999 and 2000 after one year of coaching wide receivers at Texas Lutheran. His first big-time job came at Iowa State, where he was named offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2009.
After leaving the Cyclones, he went to Ohio State to become the Buckeyes' offensive coordinator. That's where his career really took off. His Buckeyes won the national championship in his final season at the helm, and his offense's ability to overcome injuries was a big reason for that. Famously, Ohio State lost their top two quarterbacks in Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett and used third-string quarterback Cardale Jones to win the Big 10 Championship and both College Football Playoff games.
[caption id="attachment_3744252" align="alignnone" width="940"] Herman emerged as a top head coaching candidate after helping lead Ohio State to a national championship.[Image by J Pat Carter/AP Images][/caption]
Herman's ability to adjust his offense on the fly helped him emerge as a top head coaching option at some serious programs around the country. While many programs showed interest in him, Herman eventually agreed to a deal with Houston, where he has coached the last two years. Entering the team's season finale on Friday, he was 22-3 in his time with the Cougars.
After leading a program like Houston to a ton of success and showing he can recruit in the competitive regions of Texas, most programs in the nation would love to make Herman their next head coach. Of course, there really only appears to be two vying for his services.
LSU or Texas?
It would be hard for Herman to go wrong with LSU or Texas as both are top 10 programs where he could establish his coaching legacy. However, there are pros and cons to each program, which he will surely weigh before making a final decision on his next coaching decision, as long as he does, in fact, leave Houston.
The case for LSU: At this point, the Tigers certainly seem like the heavy favorites to ink Herman to a new deal. They are in better shape currently than Texas, so that would give Herman a head start on rebuilding the program, while he continues to sign his own recruiting classes. On top of that, he would get to coach in the SEC, a prestigious honor despite the conference's down year in 2016.
[caption id="attachment_3744258" align="alignnone" width="940"] LSU is set up better for the future than Texas, but it appears they're set to part ways with interim head coach Ed Orgeron.[Image by David J. Phillip/AP Images][/caption]
Immediately, Herman would be among college football's premier head coaches, especially since he would go head to head with Nick Saban's Alabama team once a season. That has to be appealing to Herman, who may not get as much immediate exposure at Texas.
The case for Texas: Overall, Texas is just as appealing a program as LSU. However, Texas has much more work to do than LSU. Their boosters also haven't been as loyal as the Tigers' in the past, which is something any head coach has to take into account.
[caption id="attachment_3744262" align="alignnone" width="940"] Texas is a premier coaching destination and Herman could potentially bring some of his Houston recruits with him to Austin.[Image by Eric Gay/AP Images][/caption]
Herman does have more recruiting connections in areas Texas focuses on, though. Therefore, he could potentially bring some of his currently signed recruits over to Texas with him. That takes a lot of the legwork out of his first recruiting class at a major program.
Many would love to be in Herman's situation right now, but he has some tough decisions to make. Chances are, we will see Herman coaching LSU or Texas next season. Now, it's up to him to decide which program he wants to launch the next part of his career with.
[Featured image by John Minchillo/AP Images]