Houston wants to play big boy football, and why not? It seems like a lot of fun.
The problem for the Cougars is that they are a Group of 5 school, not a Power 5 school. The Power 5 schools are the ones in the SEC, ACC, Big 12, Pac 12 and Big Ten, and they, along with Notre Dame, rule the world of college athletics. If you’re not in their club, you want to join.
Houston wants to join. Badly.
The Cougars know the Big 12 will expand sooner rather than later. (After all, how much longer can we live in a world where the Big 12 has 10 teams and the Big Ten has 12 teams?) The Big 12 needs to get to 12 teams to have a championship game and have the resulting cash flow and potential late season College Football Playoff standings bump that comes with it.
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The Cougars could find a cozy fit in the Big 12. They sit right in the heart of Big 12 country, not to mention the heart of one of Texas’ wealthiest cities. There are plenty of football players in Houston to stock a major program.
All that’s missing for Houston is a home in the Power 5, and that’s why the Cougars are being so aggressive in their attempt to keep Tom Herman from the clutches of any other school, South Carolina included. Don’t dress for the job you have, dress for the job you want, right?
By offering Herman a raise from $1.35 million to at least $3 million, Houston is dressing for the job it wants, proving to the Big 12 that it is ready to do what it takes to play big boy football.
Now the ball is in Herman’s court. He could jump on the deal as soon as Friday, say, “Show me where to sign,” and throw a major curveball into the coach hiring process across the country. More likely, Herman will slow play the whole thing. He’s in the driver’s seat. Houston has made it clear it wants him badly. Everyone else now knows they’ll have to sweeten any potential offer to trump the commitment shown by the Cougars.
Three million dollars a year won’t scare off South Carolina or any other serious suitor, but it might give Herman something to think about. If he believes Houston has a Big 12 future, there are a lot of reasons for him to stand pat. The school made it clear it will give him pretty much any length contract he wants.
Either way, Tom Herman made more money on Thursday.