Just hours after firing Charlie Strong on Saturday, the University of Texas announced the hiring of new head coach Tom Herman. The former Ohio State offensive coordinator and Houston head coach began his career as a graduate assistant under Mack Brown in 1999, and it's been no secret he's had his eyes on the job ever since.
Herman will undoubtedly improve the Longhorns on the field as well as on the recruiting trail, thus making it more difficult for the Buckeyes to pull elite prospects from the Lone Star State moving forward.
Ohio State currently holds a commitment from the state's top running back in four-star J.K. Dobbins and remains in the running for elite linebackers Baron Browning and Anthony Hines III, five-star cornerback Jeffrey Okudah and five-star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson. You have to wonder, though, whether the Buckeyes would have had a chance to land any of them if Texas were still among the country's elite programs.
"I want the high school coaches of the great state of Texas to know that this is their football program," Herman said at his introductory press conference. "I have recruited this state for 20-some odd years. I have grown up with the high school football coaches in this great state. It is important to me that the great players in the great state of Texas understand that we are going to do everything we can to keep them home."
“IT IS IMPORTANT TO ME THAT THE GREAT PLAYERS IN THE GREAT STATE OF TEXAS UNDERSTAND THAT WE ARE GOING TO DO EVERYTHING WE CAN TO KEEP THEM HOME.”
– TEXAS HEAD COACH TOM HERMAN
That mantra helped Houston land its highest-rated recruiting ever class last year — which included defensive tackle Ed Oliver, the fifth five-star prospect to ever sign with a team not in a power conference.
Herman also had the Cougars ahead of the Longhorns in the national recruiting rankings for this year's cycle.
If he can do that at a school in the American Athletic Conference, just imagine what he can do with the facilities, revenue and tradition at a blueblood program like Texas.
With only two and a half months until signing day, it's going to be tough for Herman to make up ground with any of the aforementioned Ohio State commits or targets — maybe they'll entertain the idea of an in-home visit from the coaching staff or make a trip to campus. But going forward, Texas will be in contention for every four- and five-star recruit within the state's borders.
"In all of us coaches, [there's] that competitive fire that says, 'I want to go be the best at my craft,'" Herman said. "I want to go do it for the best place in the best way possible and win a whole bunch of games and win a whole bunch of championships. So that's why you aspire to be at a place like Texas is to — now you have the best of both worlds. You have the ability to affect and change young men's lives in a positive manner all the while competing for championships."
Texas had a decade-long run of success after the turn of the century, winning 10 games or more in each season from 2000-2009. That included winning a national championship and playing for another. But the Longhorns haven't won a Big 12 title and went 46-42 under Brown and Strong in the seven years since.
Herman will take over a program that is loaded with talent — Strong locked down two-consecutive Top 10 recruiting classes and the starting lineup for Friday's 31-9 loss to TCU featured only four graduating seniors. The Longhorns just haven't been able to pull it all together.
"The cake has been baked," Strong said after the game. "The only thing you need to do now is put the icing on it and slice it."
Herman is obviously the person to do that.