The Poor Longhorns Coach gets $6 million a year... And loses
With an annual salary of close to $6 million (call it insane), one would think that 45-yearold Thomas Herman III could figure out a way for his team to beat the University of Oklahoma in last Saturday’s famed Red River Rivalry (its 116 th reboot). Maybe call up the Patriot’s head coach, Bill Belichick, and see how a team can cheat if that’s what it takes to get the job done (without getting caught, though, in yet another cheating scandal counting last year that will cost the Pats $1.1 mil in fines and a draft pick).
What’s more important, after all? A win or ethics?
A win, duh.
On top of Herman’s exorbitant salary, he fired seven of his 10 assistant coaches/coordinators during the off-season after UT approved letting him shell out an additional $1.11 million to bring in new recruits. “It’s only money, yo.”
The new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Mike Yurcich, was really singing “Ain’t Life Grand,” given the fact that his previous salary at Ohio State was $950k. To get him to Austin, the Longhorns are now paying him $1.7 million to help lose to Oklahoma and TCU in back-to-back weeks. (Thumbs up.)
With only 24,000 fans allowed inside the Cotton Bowl to see Herman fail yet again while following CDC social-distancing guidelines (not counting fist fights, up close and personal, or linemen talking loud trash about their respective opponent’s mama), the question is, will the Hermanski last out this entire season if indeed the entire season is played? The virus will dictate the season. Not the other way around.
Good news for Texas A&M, the school from which the CIA likes to recruit – fans can rejoice over the team’s win Saturday, upsetting the Florida Gators, ranked No. 4 going into the game. Saturday was the first time the Aggies beat a team ranked in the top five nationally since…wait for it…2014 in its win against No. 3 Auburn. The Ags are now 3-1 this season, helping ease the pain of losing to Alabama the week before in a 52-24 massacre.
Pity, though, the poor Longhorn fans. They’re as passionate as any collegiate fans out there, and as such, they deserve better, in my opinion, but for some reason, they can’t seem to catch a long-term break. Even getdrunk tail-gate parties are a thing of the past, thanks to COVID.
UT fans were tortured with three years of Charlie Strong at the helm, who led Texas to a 16-21 record over the course of three excruciating looong seasons. To bring Charlie to Austin, university regents shelled out approximately $5 million as an annual salary. For all of that money, UT fans were left with an unremarkable overall threeseason record of 16-21; 12-15 in conference play.
Not only did UT pay Strong millions to lose, but it also had to pay his former employer, the University of Louisville, approximately $4 million to release him from his contract. To boot him out of Austin, UT had to pay Strong another $4 million. Luckily for UT, Strong took a head coaching job with South Florida, where he earned approximately $4.5 million over three years. If he hadn’t taken the Florida job, however, UT Regents would have had to pay Chuck $10.7 million for the remaining two years on his contract.
The Herman History
Like Strong, Tom Herman had some relatively good stats behind him when Austin named him new head coach in November 2016. Prior to UT, Herman coached at the University of Houston for two seasons and racked up an impressive 22-4 record. Against teams ranked in the AP Poll, Herman’s Houston team went 6-0. Then came Austin, where he was hired in November 2016 to be head coach. Over the past three seasons, Herman’s record is 23-14, and he’s won the Sugar Bowl and the Alamo Bowl.
His 9-3 record two years ago, which culminated in a post-season win against No.11-ranked Utah, gave the Longhorns their first 10- win season since 2009. Now comes this year, though, and Herman is under-performing as a coach. Saturday’s loss against unranked Oklahoma, 53-45 in four overtimes, drives home the point that there’s more to coaching than a pretty face. The week before, Herman had led his team to a 33-31 loss at home no less to unranked TCU, once again snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
Now, Longhorn fans are left with this thought: If the team can’t beat Oklahoma and TCU with weak teams this speaking, relative to past recent seasons, what does the 2020 season look like moving forward? The other question is, to what degree is COVID affecting players and coaches? Most have to have it in the backs of their minds. Only thing that levels the playing field, pardon the pun, is that they all have to deal with it. Some just do it differently to varying degrees.
Losing is one thing, and bad enough for faithful fans. Losing close games, though, are the stuff of heart attacks. Fans get so hyped up, the adrenaline runs at full speed, and some fans every year end up dying over an athletic event.
To prove the point, go online and type this into your favorite search engine: “Heart attacks and sporting events.” See the stories pop up, like this one from the NY Times, with the headline: “Die-Hard Sports Fans Face Heart Risk.” Anyone can fall victim to it, but those with existing heart conditions carry the most risk watching a seat-of-the pants game, especially if their team loses a close game. Sad. Heartbreaking. Sometimes literally.
Herman may not last out this entire season if he can’t turn around his team and point the players back toward the wining side, because already too many people online are calling for his head on a platter, and no doubt, some include heavy UT donors who are almost all stoked on football (they like the private VIP sections). Saturday’s loss to Oklahoma is a good example. The Sooners who came to Austin had already lost two straight Big-12 games for the first time in 21 years. The team’s offense was led by a redshirt freshman QB, a fourth-string running back, and a defense that lacked its two best players.
Two times Saturday, Tom Herman could have ended the game by going for two extra points against a tired Oklahoma defense. It should never have come to that point, though, one can argue, considering that Herman has a record-setting QB and 15 returning starters on the roster. Plus, don’t forget those new highly-paid assistant coaches/coordinators. Yet, in the end, the score was 53-45, and Herman was left with this lament: “A lot of the mistakes are self-inflicted. I’m disappointed. Again, it’s my job to make sure they don’t happen.”
Mistakes. No #@$&, Sherlock. Especially for a weekly paycheck, mas o menos, worth approximately $115,000. PER WEEK. For that much money, UT’s record now should be better than 2-2. For that much money, approximately $6 million per year, anyone can claim a loss. All it takes is bad coaching, and any of us are capable of that. Sign me up. I’ll even take a pay cut. Only three million per year should work. I did play high school football, Plus, there are some playbooks I can study.
Where do the Longhorns go from here? Doubt if Tom Herman knows. He’s got so much money, I doubt if he’s worried about a job. In Tom’s case, he may be too smart to be head coach. Maybe that’s it. After all, he’s a member of Mensa International, which indicates he’s smarter than your average coach, despite his record so far this year, and he’s got a Master’s Degree. Only thing that might make it worse would be if he had a PhD.