HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 10: Houston Cougars head coach Tom Herman is seen on the field before Houston played against the Lamar Cardinals at TDECU Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)
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Eyes of Texas on Tom Herman as ‘Horns hire Cougars coach

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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?

Ole Miss announces co-OC Dan Werner won’t return in 2017

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Hugh Freeze‘s 2017 coaching staff at Ole Miss will have a decidedly different look than his 2016 version.

In late November, the football program announced that defensive coordinator Dave Wommack has decided to retire from coaching at the end of year after nearly four decades in the profession.  Nearly two weeks later, the rebels announced that co-offensive coordinator Dan Werner will not return as well.

Werner also served as quarterbacks coach.

“I am grateful to Dan for his contributions to our program,” Freeze said in a statement. “His leadership and experience were invaluable in the development of our quarterbacks. These are always very difficult decisions, but at this time, I believe it is best for our program to have a fresh approach. We wish Dan and his family the very best.”

In 2016, the Rebels were 13th nationally in passing offense and tied for 45th in scoring.  They were in the Top 10 in 2015 in both of those categories.

Matt Luke remains on staff as the other co-offensive coordinator while also holding the title of assistant head coach.  He’s also the Rebels’ line coach.

Werner has been in Oxford for all five year’s of Freeze’s tenure.  He was also the Rebels’ coordinator in 2006 and 2007 under Ed Orgeron, who is now the head coach at LSU.

In addition to the move on Werner, it was also announced that Barney Farrar, the assistant athletic director for high school and junior college relations, would not have his contract renewed.  Farrar had been on administrative leave prior to his dismissal.

Farrar was connected to the draft-day imbroglio involving former Ole Miss All-American offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil.  It was reported in October that an NCAA investigation into the football program is ongoing.

Houston AD goes papal amidst reports of Lane Kiffin hiring

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 19: University of Houston Frontiersman hold the UH flag and the American flag during the University of Houston school song before the Houston Cougars played the Southern Methodist University Mustangs on November 19, 2011 at Robertson Stadium in Houston, Texas. Houston defeated SMU 37-7.  (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)
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Even in the midst of a coaching search that will determine your football program’s fortunes for the foreseeable future, you gotta have a little fun.

Late Wednesday, it appeared that Houston was zeroing in on a replacement for Tom Herman, who left to become the head coach at Texas late last month.  Thursday morning, it was reported that Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin had been hired by UH.

In response to the reports of a final decision being made, Cougars athletic director Hunter Yurachek offered a little papal levity, replete with non-white smoke indicating no football pope has been hired.

The Houston Chronicle, citing a source with knowledge of the situation, subsequently reported that “the University of Houston has not made a decision on its next football coach.”

That said, it’s expected that Kiffin is Yurachek’s man, with an announcement coming as early as tonight. University officials will meet later on today to finalize the search and come to a consensus.

In addition to Kiffin, ex-LSU head coach Les Miles and interim Houston coach Todd Orlando and offensive coordinator Major Applewhite have been under consideration.  ESPN.com‘s Brett McMurphy writes that “[w]hoever the next coach is, Houston is trying to require an excessive buyout so he can’t leave after a couple of seasons without paying a substantial penalty.”

As a reference point in that aspect of the situation, Herman’s buyout was $2.5 million.  Herman spent two seasons with the Cougars before leaving for the Longhorns.

Jay Norvell reportedly set to be named head coach at Nevada

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Yet another FBS opening is reportedly on the verge of being closed.

According to a report from FootballScoop.com, Jay Norvell “will be the next head coach at Nevada.” The Reno Gazette-Journal writes that “Norvell, the third and final candidate to interview for the Wolf Pack football head-coaching vacancy, was so impressive he didn’t even leave Reno before being offered the job, which he quickly accepted.” Norvell was offered the job late Wednesday night.

The other two interviewed were Eastern Washington head coach Beau Baldwin and Vanderbilt offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig. The former interviewed Monday, the latter Tuesday.

If/when hired, Norvell would replace Brian Polian, who “mutually parted ways” with the football program last month after four seasons. This would be Norvell’s first head-coaching job at any level.

Norvell just completed his first regular season as an assistant on Todd Graham‘s Arizona State coaching staff.  With the Sun Devils, Norvell served as wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator.

Norvell has spent most of his nearly three decades in coaching at Power Five programs, with stops that included Texas (2015), Oklahoma (2008-14), UCLA (2007), Nebraska (2004-06), Iowa State (1995-97), Wisconsin (1989-94) and Iowa (1986-87).  He also spent six seasons as an assistant in the NFL — 1998-2001 as the wide receivers coach of the Indianapolis Colts, 2002-03 as tight ends coach of the Oakland Raiders.

Jim Harbaugh is looking forward to seeing Chief Osceola and Renegade at the Orange Bowl

TALLAHASSEE, FL - SEPTEMBER 15:  Chief Osceola, mascot of the Florida State Seminoles plants a spear at midfield prior to a game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Doak Campbell Stadium on September 15, 2012 in Tallahassee, Florida.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher got together for a joint press conference in Miami today as the two coaches prepare to face one another in the Orange Bowl on December 30. Harbaugh said he is looking forward to the matchup but seemed to be much more interested in getting a chance to witness one of the pregame traditions of Florida State; Chief Osceola riding on Renegade and planting a spear in the turf.

“I’ve never been to a game at Florida State,” Harbaugh said. “I’ve always wanted to go there and see what that atmosphere was like in person. This will be as close as I’ve ever been to that. I’m excited for that. I know I’m going to get some chills when that Appaloosa comes riding out there.”

Of course, this isn’t exactly a home game for the Seminoles, so sometimes pregame traditions are put on ice for the bowl season. Knowing this, Harbaugh made his case and made sure everyone listening knows just how cool he thinks it is.

“I want to see that. That’s one of the cool things,” Harbaugh said. “We have cool things and other teams have cool things, but that is right up there as one of the coolest things.”

Fortunately for Harbaugh, he will indeed get a chance to witness this pregame routine in person. Florida State Associate Athletics Director Jason Dennard said on Twitter Chief Osceola and Renegade will make the trip to Miami from Tallahassee.