Should Tom Herman leave Ohio State for Houston before the Sugar Bowl?
With a semifinal against Alabama and a potential title a month away, the new Cougars coach has a tough choice to make.
Ohio State offensive coordinator and Broyles Award winner Tom Herman will be hired as Houston’s new head coach. There’s still one decision for one of the nation’s hottest coaching commodities to make: will he coach the Buckeyes through their Playoff run, or go to work with the Cougars right away?
Herman’s choice is relatively simple, but each choice presents its own risks and potential rewards. If he helps Ohio State, he loses most of a month of recruiting for a Houston team that could use a talent influx. If he bolts for the Cougars right away, he loses a chance at winning a national title — which would help his ability to recruit down the line.
The decision is not one without precedent. Some other coordinators in his predicament chose to work both jobs at once.
Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen stayed with Florida for a title game appearance after accepting the Bulldogs’ job, later saying he had to recruit in a hurry in order to catch up.
Former Florida State coordinators Mark Richt and Mark Stoops had similar dilemmas in recent years after accepting the Georgia and Kentucky head coaching positions, respectively. Both elected to stay on and help out the Seminoles in national championship games. Richt, whose 2000 Seminoles offense fared far worse in the BCS than Stoops’ 2013 defense did, called it “a challenge in every respect.”
When new Florida head coach Jim McElwain first took the Colorado State job, he stayed on to coach Alabama’s offense in the BCS title game against LSU.
“Well, it’s been a challenge,” McElwain said. “But I think, as these guys can attest, our focus since I left there has been for this ballgame. And what I try to do is late at night make the calls and catch up.”
Former Tennessee assistant David Cutcliffe chose the other path, leaving the Volunteers before their 1998 title game for his new position as the head coach of Ole Miss.
Fulmer asked him to come back for the championship game, one more ride. But he said no.
“I just didn’t think David Cutcliffe belonged there for two reasons,” Cutcliffe said. “Tennessee kids, distraction, and then this Ole Miss family that I had just adopted, and they had adopted me without any reservation. So I made the right decision. I never regretted it. Ever. Not one time. And that’s hard to believe.”
Herman has a tough choice ahead of him. Either decision could end up positively impacting the Cougars down the road. Ohio State plays Alabama in the Sugar Bowl January 1.