The college football coaching carousel has begun spinning in earnest, and it looks like we’re in for one helluva ride over the next couple of months.
Thanksgiving night, multiple outlets were reporting that either Tom Herman was close to landing the job at LSU or had been offered the job at LSU but was awaiting word from Texas regarding their coaching situation or myriad other possibilities connecting the current Houston head coach to the SEC program. All of that after weeks, or even months, of Herman-to-Texas had been all but fait accompli according to most observers. So, how exactly did the apple of Texas’ eye suddenly become LSU’s top target and the biggest threat to the Longhorns’ perceived coaching future?
According to ESPN.com‘s Chris Low, Jimbo Fisher opted to remain at Florida State (again) after yet another flirtation with his former employer. Another report from the same outlet had LSU backing off of Fisher because of his salary demands.
LSU athletic director Joe Alleva has, not surprisingly, privately denied that the job has been offered to anyone. In the middle of the third quarter of their game against Texas A&M last night, LSU released a statement attributed to Alleva talking around the speculation:
Contrary to media reports, there has been no decision made on who will be the next football coach at LSU. Coach Orgeron has done a great job of leading this team since taking over in late September and we are pulling hard for the Tigers tonight against Texas A&M. As we stated earlier, we are going to take our time and make sure we select the right person to lead our football program.
Fisher and Herman, for what it’s worth, are both represented by the same agency.
After the flurry of reports had LSU zeroing in on Herman, with perhaps an announcement coming as soon as Saturday following a reported face-to-face meeting Thursday, FootballScoop.com reported that “representatives of the University of Texas do not believe Tom Herman has agreed to become LSU’s next head coach and are on their way now to meet with his representatives.”
Some may view this series of developments as the continuation of an apparent disconnect between UT officials and influential boosters.
Herman reportedly wanted to hear from a Texas decision-maker regarding, presumably, Charlie Strong‘s status and if there will even be an opening in Austin. As of late Thursday night, Herman, whose current team plays at Memphis later on today, still has yet to rule out an offer from Texas.
UT officials have steadfastly refused to address Strong’s future with the program until the end of the regular season; that comes Friday against TCU.
Prominent boosters have expressed a desire to fire Strong and hire Herman; ‘[a] source close to Herman said Texas brass never showed any real interest in Herman (only UT intermediaries and fans),” Scout.com‘s Chip Brown wrote in the report that set off the initial firestorm in the midst of the LSU-Texas A&M game, adding that UT decision-makers “perhaps never had the same interest in Herman as a group of influential big-money donors.”
The kicker in all of this? Strong could conceivably save his job independent of what Herman does by “convincingly” blowing out TCU.
Regardless of how this situation plays out, the spate of reports ensures that LSU (lost out on top two choices) or Texas (failed to land their top candidate while simultaneously hanging their current coach out to dry) will have egg on their face if they don’t ultimately reel in Herman. And Strong, if he survives, will not only be cut off at the knees but will have been publicly neutered heading into his fourth season with the Longhorns. All in all, it’d be hard for any party involved, Texas especially, to have handled this situation much worse.
That said, this has taken on the feel of the Herman camp feeding the LSU angle to the media and sending a message to Texas to make a move one way or the other when it comes to Strong. Those familiar with his thought process say that Herman, a former UT grad assistant with extensive coaching ties to the state, has long considered the Longhorns to be his dream job. Thus, until he puts his Herbie Hancock on a contract with LSU, I’ll continue to believe that Herman, ultimately, lands in Austin and anything else would be a monumental upset.
Or the mother of all Texas botch jobs. One of the two.