Tom Herman Sweepstakes Begins

I’d considered writing this last week, but thought it was too early in the season to speculate about coaching vacancies. Well, Les Miles was fired by LSU today so it is certainly appropriate to open up the discussion of which coaches are moving up and which coaches are moving out.

It may seem a bit knee-jerky to get rid of Miles today, as LSU is 2-2 with losses to top 10 Wisconsin in a pseudo road game and at Auburn who is also 2-2 with both of their losses to top 10 teams. However, this has been a long time coming and puts LSU in the driver’s seat for reaching out to the hottest name in the country, Houston’s Tom Herman. Herman will undoubtedly have a litany of teams to choose from come December, so let’s take a look at some of the most likely places for him to end up.

Early Favorites



  • Extremely fertile recruiting base with the entire state to themselves (as far as Power 5)
  • Loaded roster, can win right away
  • Rabid fan base and administrative support with track record of a long leash (Miles was in his 12th season in Baton Rouge)
  • SEC West coaches get paid extremely well
  • Familiar geography for Herman, as he has spent 13 of his 19 year coaching career in Texas
  • No need to worry about being left out of the playoffs with an unbeaten record


  • Entering the deepest division in FBS, where the reign of Saban doesn’t appear to be too close to ending
  • Expectations will be to win immediately



Herman could have left after last season, but chose to sign an extension that pays very well for a non-Power 5 position, a tag that may soon be dropped as Houston is on the very short list of candidates to join the Big XII in the near future. However, if Houston remains a mid-major and gets left out of the playoffs this year with an unbeaten record, perhaps Herman decides he needs to make a change

Emerging Candidates

Notre Dame

They’re making coaching changes already too, and at 1-3 with a handful of difficult games remaining it isn’t hard to imagine the Irish missing out on a bowl game in 2016. Would that be enough to make a change at the top? Expectations are high in South Bend, and 2012 feels like ancient history to Irish fans after 3+ years of being underwhelmed since.


The post Chip Kelly era has not gone as well as hoped for the Ducks, and in year 4 Helfrich is sitting at a disappointing 2-2. Imagining Herman at Oregon has to be terrifying to the rest of the Pac12.


In his 18th season with the Sooners, Bob Stoops has developed a reputation as a guy who can no longer win the big ones; starting the season 0 for 2 in the big ones has been a loud reminder of that notion. This one has a very John Cooper-like feel to it; wins a lot but never when it matters most. Plus Oklahoma has seen first-hand what Herman is capable of, and they have to think hard about whether they want to go against him for the next decade in the Big XII if Houston joins or if he ends up at…


Charlie Strong has been on the hot seat seemingly since he arrived in Austin, but in year 3 maybe has finally started to get things going in the right direction. The Longhorns are ranked, but have an early loss against a not-that-great Cal team and are giving up an avalanche of points against Power 5 competition. The Notre Dame win has lost most of its luster in the past 2 weeks as well. Texas really needs a strong showing in conference play to justify extending the Charlie Strong Experiment another year. The urgency to make a move may prove too much though with Herman just down the road.


The Trojans are a mess, having dropped their first 2 games in conference accompanying a nationally televised bludgeoning at the hands of Alabama to open the year. Clay Helton looks like a disastrously bad hire, but with a new AD in place it may be determined that USC can’t afford not to make a change. This is USC and their head coach is…Clay Helton? That just isn’t good enough for a program of this caliber.

Long Shots

None of these are at all likely landing spots yet, but will be noted just in case circumstances take a turn in their direction.

Dallas Cowboys

There hasn’t been much speculation on Herman going to the NFL, but Dallas needs a good season to justify not making a change and Jerry Jones has a flair for making a splashy move. The hottest coach in college football residing in the same state may be very tempting.


Chizik was fired two years after winning a national title. Auburn has the quickest trigger finger in the country and has to be getting tired of watching Saban increase the number on Bama’s display helmet.

Penn State

James Franklin has been largely unimpressive in Happy Valley. With Meyer, Harbaugh, and Dantonio in the same division it looks like he’ll be competing for 4th place indefinitely. How much longer will that low bar be acceptable for the Nittany Lions?