There are so many rumors and names flying around for who the next Michigan State football head coach will be. It has ranged from elite hires like Urban Meyer to disaster hires like Pat Narduzzi, Tony Elliott, Chris Creighton, Harlon Barnett, and Dave Clawson.
I’m not as low on Jason Candle as some but still not my top pick.
Who is my realistic top pick? It’s a coach who has resurrected a program, coached at a major Power Five program, and could come in relatively cheap. I’m talking, of course, about Tom Herman. His rise to fame started at Houston where he took a middle-of-the-road Cougars team to a 22-4 record over a two year span, including an AAC championship and a Peach Bowl victory over Florida State in his first year.
He went on to coach at University of Texas, where he won plenty of games, just not the right ones according to boosters. He’s now at Florida Atlantic where the Owls are in the top half of the standings in the AAC.
Here are some other reasons Herman should be on the short list of coaching candidates.
Even early in his coaching career, Herman has put an emphasis on offense. His stints as offensive coordinator at Texas State and Rice had high octane scoring, taking these relatively smaller schools into the top 10 of scoring offense at least one season. He went onto be trusted with the offense and quarterbacks in Urban Meyer’s first four years at Ohio State including a national title and a top five offense. He was awarded the Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant coach, leading to a head coaching job at the University of Houston.
In his first year at Houston, he led them to a 13-1 record, a top-10 ranking, and wins over two top-five opponents. While a repeat season would be hard to achieve, he still managed a 9-4 record which caught the eye of Texas, who hired him following the 2016 season. It was a tough rebuild after Charlie Strong who had a sub .500 record while head coach. It look a few years, but Herman brought Texas to the verge of a conference championship but lost to Lincoln Riley and the Oklahoma Sooners. Herman never quite caught the same magic, but not for a lack of offense, averaging more than 28 points per game in all four years at Texas.
Even in his first season at FAU, Herman has the team averaging about 25 points per game and when it comes to Michigan State, beggars can’t be choosers.
As the head coach, Tom Herman brought Houston’s recruiting class from 89th in 2014 to 41st in 2015. At Texas, a brand that recruits itself, he had back-to-back top five classes. His recruiting was good enough to produce a 32-18 record but like I mentioned, Texas boosters have incredibly high and mostly unrealistic standards, leading to his dismissal.
He also has Midwest ties, being born in Cincinnati, coaching at Iowa State, Ohio State, and getting hired as an offensive analyst with the Chicago Bears in 2021. He’s also familiar with recruiting hotbeds like Texas, California, and Florida. Pair him up with, say, a Jim Leonard at defensive coordinator and this program could recruit anywhere in the nation with comfort.
I’m not guaranteeing that he’s the solution to MSU and his name isn’t being brought up for what seems like any major jobs, and there’s probably some reason for that. But the man has coached at a high level and has won at a high level, which is not something a lot of other candidates can say.
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