The last time Houston’s football team was ranked, Kevin Sumlin was the Cougars head coach. Sumlin is at Texas A&M now.
In his first year with the Cougars, Tom Herman has Houston back in the rankings at No. 21, and he might have a more high-profile job himself soon. Herman’s name already has been attached to the opening at South Carolina as it surely will be as more jobs become available throughout the season.
For now, though, Herman has his hands full keeping his Cougars focused not on their 6-0 record and place in the polls, but on the second half of the season.
“We addressed it last week when we were ranked for the first time. It’s nice to be noticed, but nobody gives out trophies for being ranked the fifth or sixth week of the season,” he said. “We told them that none of it really matters until the end of the season, but we also addressed the fact that we’re all human beings and human beings like praise. Praise feels good, and it’s really easy to gravitate toward praise, but the true champions and successful people in life, they seek out criticism.”
It’s been hard to find Herman critics since he left Ohio State, where he was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach under Urban Meyer from 2012-2014. The Cougars have beaten Louisville this season and have won their last four games by an average of 29 points
“I think the culture is on the right path,” Herman said. “Kids are buying in, they’re believing, they’re practicing hard and doing everything right so far. We just have to maintain that this week as well.”
Sumlin left Houston after that 2011 season in which the Cougars finished 13-1 and last were ranked. Tony Levine took over for Sumlin but was fired after going 21-17, leaving Herman with a rebuilding project.
“I think one of the things that maybe we’re emphasizing more is an overall accountability to their teammates in terms of their effort and intensity on a minute-by-minute and day-by-day basis,” Herman said. “Every time we take the field even on a Tuesday practice, it’s fourth-and-inches in the national championship game. That’s how intense we want every rep to be in practice. As demanding as our preparation is throughout the week will allow the games on Saturday to hopefully be a little easier.”
Four Questions about Tom Herman
Where Is He? Houston head coach (6-0 first season)
Where’s He Been? Ohio State (offensive coordinator and QB coach, 2012-2014), Iowa State (offensive coordinator and QB coach 2009-2011), Rice (offensive coordinator and QB coach, 2007-2008), Texas State (offensive coordinator and QB coach, 2005-2006), Sam Houston State (WR and special teams coach, 2001-2004)
Where’d He Play? California Lutheran (wide receiver)
What’s He Make? $1.35 million