Buckeyes’ offensive coordinator will be Houston’s next head coach
A lot of people are overwhelmed by their jobs.
Now double the strain and you’ve got an idea of what Tom Herman is facing.
While Herman tries to come up with a master plan for Monday’s national championship game as Ohio State’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, he’s also trying to stay on top of hiring a staff, recruiting players, and helping make arrangements for his family’s life-changing move as the new head coach at Houston.
“You certainly don’t want to shortchange any of the guys here at Ohio State,” Herman said by telephone while the Buckeyes bused from the airport to their hotel for the title game against Oregon. “They deserve my best effort and then some. Hopefully they’ve gotten that. But I’ve still got a job to do for the University of Houston, too. And trying to get that done obviously cuts into the hours that are in a day.”
It all comes down two major considerations: “Time management and sleep deprivation,” Herman said.
He believes he’s done a good job with both considerations. His current boss agrees, although he notes the deterioration in Herman’s appearance.
“He looks like someone hit him with a bat,” Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer cracked. “A good bat, though.”
His wife, Michelle, realizes the constraints he’s facing and makes things go as easily as possible at home.
“She hasn’t asked a whole lot of me around the house, other than if I get a chance to tuck the kids in or wake them up and give them a kiss,” he said. “She’s holding down the fort for us.”
Coaching in a national championship game is the epitome for almost anyone. But this has been a particularly challenging season.
First, the Buckeyes (13-1) are on their third starting quarterback this season. Braxton Miller, a two-time Big Ten player of the year, was lost 12 days before the season started after season-ending shoulder surgery. Freshman J.T. Barrett stepped in and set several Ohio State records while finishing fifth in the Heisman Trophy balloting.
But then Barrett broke his ankle against rival Michigan game. Herman has reduced and focused the attack to make it easier for Cardale Jones, a first-time starter. As a result, the Buckeyes won the Big Ten title 59-0 over Wisconsin (Jones was the game MVP), and Jones was solid in a 42-35 upset of top-ranked Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
Meyer has a lengthy list of assistants who’ve gone on to make news as head coaches (Utah’s Kyle Whittingham, Texas’ Charlie Strong and Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen, to just name three of the 12). He knows what it’s like for a coach to feel the pressures from two schools and two jobs while maintaining a semblance of normalcy with his family.
“He’s a pro. I really admire (him),” Meyer said of Herman.
One of the people Meyer called on before hiring Herman three years ago was former Oregon and current Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly. Kelly raved about Herman. Now Herman could be the undoing of his old college team’s championship hopes.
A Cincinnati native who has coached at five schools in Texas — and has saved at least one article of apparel from each — Herman played college ball at California Lutheran, graduated in 1997 with a degree in business administration and added a master’s in education from the University of Texas. He’s also a card-carrying member of the Mensa Society, for those with high intellects.
He and his wife have three kids: 11-year-old daughter Priya, 7-year-old son Maddock and 1-year-old son Maverick. The Hermans will try to get them into school in Houston as soon as possible. Michelle will join Tom on a trip back to Houston in a week or so when she’ll take a look at some houses.
He’s made two trips to Houston already, one with the family on a private plane supplied by Houston to announce him as the new head coach, and two days over the Christmas break to work on organizing his staff and dealing with recruiting.
He still squeezes in some time each day for his new employer.
“I try to block out about an hour in the very early morning to take notes, gather my thoughts, all that stuff,” Herman said. “About an hour at lunch. And then a couple of hours at night. So three or four hours a day on Houston stuff.”
Eventually, there’ll come a time to soak in everything that’s happened — possibly when the kids are on spring break.
“We’ll keep going and going and going until there’ll be a few opportunities to take a deep breath down the road,” he said.