By Ryan Decker
Hopefully I’m not bursting any Houston football fan’s bubble, but Tom Herman likely won’t be you head coach in 2017.
As much as it may hurt to read that, it’s the truth. Even though we’re a few months away from season’s end, it’s good to be realistic about this.
With Herman likely coaching one of his last six or seven games on the Houston sideline this weekend when the Cougars take on in-state foe Southern Methodist, Houston fans should being savoring the rest of this season.
At 6-1 most schools could still theoretically be in the picture for the College Football Playoff. Houston isn’t part of the majority.
Despite beating Oklahoma to begin the season, the Cougars being in a non-Power-5 conference meant they were going to have to run the table to get in. Maybe had that one loss come to the Sooners in Week 1 or against a highly ranked Louisville team near the end of the season (assuming either would’ve been hard fought, closely contested losses), Houston could’ve snuck into the playoff with a little help.
But the loss to Navy, barring a historic collapse by multiple teams at the top of the AP Top 25, ended the Cougars playoff hopes.
However, as realistic as Cougar fans should be, it is important to note that in the two years of the CFP, only one of the eight teams was located in the Top 4 when the initial CFP Rankings came out. So, who knows, maybe Houston does have a chance at being one of the final four teams.
Realistically, though, it’s highly unlikely.
The loss to Navy was the first sign that told many that Herman is likely out the door at season’s end.
And Cougar fans certainly didn’t get any help on Monday, with the Big 12 Conference’s decision to not expand at all. Not just to expand without Houston, which obviously would’ve been bad, but not to expand at all.
Sadly for Cougar fans, that was the equivalent of your punter sending a deep kick inside the 10-yard line only to have the return man outrun everyone on the coverage team, drop kick your punter in the face, and waltz in the end zone for a touchdown.
Looking at the situation realistically, sure there’s a small chance Herman returns, but it isn’t likely.
I wouldn’t advise expecting him to still be with the Cougars next season.
After what will likely be another 9+ win season for Houston, Herman is going to be, as Houston athletic director said, “… one of the hottest coaching commodities in all of college football.”
Even with Herman’s contract being doubled at the end of last season to $3 million he could certainly make more money at higher profile jobs elsewhere. His 2016 salary is on par with the average ACC and PAC-12 head coaching pay, whereas it’s toward the bottom in the Big 12 and SEC, comparatively.
The grass is always greener on the other side, or maybe in Herman’s case the grass is purple and gold (LSU) or potentially burnt orange (Texas) or another team’s colors.