When Tom Herman became the head coach at Houston, he didn’t necessarily expect to be undefeated and ranked in the top 20 through seven weeks of the season, but that’s exactly what happened. The No. 18 Cougars are 7-0 and have won all but one of their games by at least 14 points.
Yeah, not a bad start for the first-year head coach.
“I don’t know that there was a ton of expectations other than to win,” Herman said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “Us as coaches, we don’t look at the big picture a lot of times. We focus on the task at hand: What do I got to do today to get better? What do I got to do today to help us win on Saturday? And so, I don’t know that we even really had any (goal) of, ‘Hey, we want to be at such-and-such mark by Week 8.’ I don’t think that ever occurred to us other than, ‘Hey, we want to put our nose down, we want to install a culture and hopefully the wins will come after that.’”
Herman, who helped lead Ohio State to a national championship last year, has quite the dual-threat quarterback in Greg Ward Jr., who has completed 71.5 percent of his passes for 1,734 yards, 10 touchdowns and two interceptions. He also leads the team in rushing with 103 carries for 677 yards – 6.6 yards per carry – and 15 touchdowns. He’s without question the most important player on Houston’s roster.
But you wouldn’t know it at the buffet table. That’s because Herman has a rule in which his offensive and defensive linemen eat first.
“I don’t know if it’s unique,” Herman said. “I think we did it at Ohio State and I certainly believed in it ever since the day I got in this profession. I saw how much proof is in the pudding, so to speak, (and how much) Coach Meyer put in it. I wanted to make it known that we’re an O-Line- and D-Line-driven culture, and I’ve never once heard a champion stand at the podium and raise a trophy – conference-championship trophy, national-championship trophy – and say, ‘Well, we out-finessed them.’ That’s never happened in this great game. I don’t know that it ever will. Maybe some day when I’m long gone. But I know that the championship teams in this sport do it by out-physical-ing and out-toughing their opponent. And for us, those guys that go to battle for us each and every day upfront are going to get rewarded and treated like kings around here.”
Herman, 40, has instantly become one of the top young coaches in the game and is happy to be coaching in one of the most recruiting-rich areas in the country. He just needs to make sure those recruits don’t leave town.
“We feel we are the hometown college football team of the city of Houston,” Herman said. “In my opinion, we play in the greatest high-school-football-playing city in America and the greatest high-school-football-playing state in America. There’s plenty of recruits to go around, and we’ve got to make sure that some of the best ones stick around. The one good thing that we have now is the academic transformation of our university has really done a 180 from probably about 10 years ago. We’re now one of only three schools in the state of Texas to have Tier 1 status thought he Carnegie Foundation. We’ve got about five or six of our programs that are in the top 10 in the country. So I think we’ve got a lot to offer. Now, from a football standpoint, you’ve already started to make your name here in the great city of Houston. What better way to continue that legacy than with your hometown college football team and getting a great education while you do it?”