Getty Images

Eyes of Texas on Tom Herman as ‘Horns hire Cougars coach


The worst kept secret in college football is now out in the open.

Just hours after announcing the dismissal of Charlie Strong, Texas has officially tapped his replacement, naming Tom Herman as the 30th head football coach in the program’s history.  The announcement is the culmination of a couple of months worth of rumors, with speculation heating up over the past 24 hours or so. It also comes a little more than 24 hours after Herman stated “don’t believe anything you read” in chiding a reporter who asked about the speculation swirling around him.

Herman informed Houston of his decision to leave for Texas Saturday morning.  A short time later, at a team meeting early on in the afternoon, he informed his players.

“I’m thrilled to have Tom Herman joining us as our head football coach,” athletic director Mike Perrin said. “I am impressed with his insights on college sports, football and academic success, and his philosophy of developing the student-athlete into the complete person. He clearly has a passion and respect for the game of football, and also, a passion for teaching young men the game and the life lessons that come with that.”

“In Tom Herman, Longhorn football is getting a proven competitor, terrific recruiter, and committed mentor of student-athletes who has shown his ability to succeed at all levels,” UT president Gregory L. Fenves said. “Tom was the hottest young head coach in the country the past two seasons, and I am thrilled we are able to get him back to UT to lead Texas football.”

LSU had also pursued Herman — they were reportedly set to meet Saturday — but, when it became obvious that he had his eyes on his dream job at Texas, the Tigers turned to interim head coach Ed Orgeron for the permanent opening.

The move to Austin is a homecoming of sorts for Herman as he served as a graduate assistant for the Longhorns in 1999 and 2000.  That was his first coaching job at the FBS level.

“The opportunity to come back to Texas is a dream come true for me and my family, and I can’t thank President Fenves and Mike Perrin enough for providing me with this incredible opportunity,” a statement from Herman began. “Longhorn football has been – and always will be – a national power, winning and playing for national championships with great pride and passion, supported by an unbelievable fan base.

“When President Fenves, Mike and I met late last night and into the morning, I came away very impressed with their unified vision and commitment to football, and I’m excited to be the head coach at the flagship university of the greatest state in the union. I am eager to get to Austin as soon as possible, to spend time with our student-athletes and to get to work.”

An Ohio native, Herman began his coaching career at Texas Lutheran in 1998 and has had deep connection to the state ever since.  In fact, his first 11 years in the profession were in the state of Texas — the two jobs previously mentioned, plus Sam Houston State (2001-04), Texas State (2005-06) and Rice (2007-08).  Even after that last job, Herman remained connected to the Big 12 as the offensive coordinator at Iowa State from 2009-11.

Following a three-year stint as Ohio State’s coordinator, he left for his first head-coaching job at any level with Houston.

At UH, Herman has gone 22-4.  He went 13-1 his first season, then won his first five games in 2016.  Since then, however, the Cougars have gone a middling 4-3 after being viewed as a potential crasher at the College Football Playoff party.

Against ranked teams, Herman has gone a sparkling 6-0 as head coach.  However, he’s lost four games to unranked teams as double-digit favorites.

So, in the end, Texas got their man.  The question now, is he the man for the job?

North Carolina formally announces hiring of ex-Tennessee RBs coach Robert Gillespie

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The latest addition to Larry Fedora‘s North Carolina coaching staff has been confirmed.

Following up on reports that surfaced earlier this month. UNC announced Wednesday that Fedora has hired Robert Gillespie. While not confirmed by the football program in the release, it’s expected Gillespie will serve as the Tar Heels running backs coach, a position he’s held for most of his coaching career.

“We are excited to welcome Robert and his family to Chapel Hill,” Fedora said in a statement. “He has a well-earned reputation as a great offensive coach and recruiter, and he has a wealth of experience working with running backs at a very high level. We are happy to have him join our staff as we get into the bulk of spring practice.”

Gillespie fills the hole created by the departure of Gunter Brewer, who left as the Tar Heels’ wide receivers coach for a job with the Philadelphia Eagles earlier this month. It’s expected that Luke Paschall, currently the running backs coach, will assume Brewer’s role with receivers.

Gillespie, a former Florida running back, spent the past five seasons as the running backs coach at Tennessee. He was originally retained by new UT head coach Jeremy Pruitt before parting ways with the football program shortly after National Signing Day.

In addition to UT, Gillespie has spent time on coaching staffs at South Carolina (2006-08), Oklahoma State (2009-10) and West Virginia (2011-12). He was the running backs coach at each of those stops.

Report: Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa’s thumb injury ‘just a sprain’

Getty Images
Leave a comment

It appears Alabama can breathe a sigh of relief on the injury front.

Tuesday, after the reigning national champions had put the finishing touches on its first practice of the spring, Nick Saban confirmed that quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had suffered an unspecified injury to the thumb on his LEFT (throwing) hand.  It was expected that the quarterback would travel to Birmingham for further evaluation of the injury.

While there’s been nothing official yet from the football program or head coach,, citing unnamed sources, writes that the injury “is believed to just be a sprain and he should be able to return to practice in at least a limited capacity at some point soon.”

Until then, Jalen Hurts will take the majority of the reps as the Crimson Tide continues its march through their 15 spring practice sessions.

The rising true junior Hurts, who has started every game but one the past two seasons, and the rising true sophomore Tagovailoa, the national championship game hero who replaced Hurts at halftime of the overtime win, are engaged in a competition for the starting job that, barring a post-spring transfer, is expected to extend into summer camp.  That said, most observers outside of the UA football program fully expect Tagovailoa, because of his proficiency in the passing game relative to Hurts, to earn the job at some point before the Tide opens the defense of their title against Louisville in Orlando Sept. 1.

John Calipari takes page out of Nick Saban’s playbook by warning of (rat) poison

Getty Images
Leave a comment

One’s a dot, two’s a line and three’s a trend as the old adage go and it appears rat poison for college players is now a burgeoning trend.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday ahead of Kentucky’s NCAA tournament game against Kansas State, Wildcats coach John Calipari took a page straight out of Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin’s playbook by warning his team of drinking the media “poison” the past few days.

“My challenge is making sure these kids don’t drink that poison. That poison being we have an easy road. There are no easy roads in this tournament,” said Calipari. “If they drink that poison, we’ll be done Thursday. If they don’t drink the poison, it’ll be a dog fight Thursday — let’s see what happens. Sometimes you wonder why they’re (the media) trying to paint that picture with my team — probably because they’re young and they know they don’t know better.”

Ok then.

At least the term Calipari is using isn’t out of thin air given that Saban infamously ranted on his team buying into the media’s discussion of being a good team as “rat poison” last season. For the record though, the rant by the basketball coach was prompted by a question that didn’t at all involve Kentucky having an easy path to the Final Four but was rather about team and individual goals.

It’s not often you think of Saban as a trendsetter but it seems he was certainly ahead of the curve when it came to labeling media talk as poison.

Harbaugh hits primetime again as Michigan announces spring game under the lights

Getty Images

Jim Harbaugh is already getting a series on Amazon Prime but now the Michigan head coach is also getting the primetime treatment.

The Wolverines announced on Tuesday that the annual spring game would take place under the lights at Michigan Stadium this year and would be televised live in primetime on the Big Ten Network.

Gates will open to the game two hours prior to kickoff and the maize and blue faithful may try to do their best to get to Ann Arbor early because the school is going to screen an episode of the Amazon series  “All or Nothing: The Michigan Wolverines” prior to the game. This will be the second time in three years that the school will go under the lights to play their spring game at night but obviously the first time there’s a documentary series that will be screened prior to the Wolverines taking the field.

The game may be worth tuning in for to see Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson in action with his new team after arriving in the offseason. The NCAA still has not ruled on whether he will be immediately eligible in 2018 but he is expected to go through spring drills with the team either way, starting this week when practices begin on Friday.