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The past few days have been a whirlwind for Tom Herman.
The Ohio State offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach accepted the head coaching job at the University of Houston on Tuesday. He will remained with the Buckeyes through the upcoming College Football Playoff, however, meaning he will balance duties in the meantime.
It is not unfamiliar territory for OSU head coach Urban Meyer, who has seen several of his assistants move on to head coaching positions through the years. He saw a familiar sight recently when he passed by Herman at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
“It looked like someone hit him with a bat when he was walking around,” Meyer joked. “A good bat, though.”
Unsurprisingly, Meyer was happy for Herman. The head coach said that Herman, while admittedly frazzled in the aftermath of taking the Houston job, has handled things well.
“He loves Ohio State, and he’s very appreciative of Ohio State. It’s all good,” Meyer said.
Meyer hired Herman to lead his offense when Meyer came to Columbus following the 2010 season. Herman joined the staff after assistant coaching stints at Sam Houston State, Texas and Rice before leading the offense at Iowa State. Meyer said he “took a chance” on Herman.
“What people told me about him was correct,” Meyer said. “It started with Chip Kelly, and I had some other very close friends who said to look into this guy. I talked to him several times, and his interview was off the charts. He’s been a really instrumental member of our staff.”
Herman, the 2014 Broyles Award winner as the nation’s top assistant coach, led an OSU offense that set a school record with 45.6 points per game last season and compiled 45.2 this year. He also had a major hand in the development of successful quarterbacks such as Braxton Miller, J.T. Barrett, Kenny Guiton and Cardale Jones.
As for Herman’s replacement, Meyer did not tip his hand in his first meeting with the media since Herman’s hiring in Houston. He might have dropped a clue, however, when talking about how picking a new offensive coordinator “is a big hire.”
Soon after saying those words, he referenced co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Ed Warinner but did not necessarily confirm that Warinner is the likely successor.
“I’m not going to release anything, but I’ve got a plan,” Meyer said. “We’ll keep evaluating the next couple of weeks, but there is a short list all over the place with each position and strength coaches and everybody.”
Herman was not the offensive assistant coach made available to the media Thursday afternoon. That honor went to Warinner, who went out of his way to praise his departing colleague and friend. The duo had first met in 2008 when Warinner was at Kansas and Herman was at Rice. They compared and contrasted the offensive attacks at their respective schools and went on to become friends before becoming coworkers in Columbus.
“Tom did a tremendous job here of overseeing the offense as the offensive coordinator and play caller, developing our quarterbacks and (someone) who tried to put Coach Urban Meyer’s system into a no-huddle, which we’ve all had a piece in that, but Tom oversaw it and did a great job,” Warinner said. “We’re really excited for him and wish him and his family the best at the University of Houston. He’ll do a great job there and he’ll have a bright future.
“As far as moving forward for this game, he’s working with us full-time and we’re all going to keep our roles as they are through the game, and then after the game we’ll let Coach Meyer decide how the future unfolds. But really our focus is just how to get this team ready to play Alabama.”
Naturally, Warinner was asked if he was interested in taking coordinator job.
“I’m just interested right now and focused on how we beat Alabama and what’s best in that scenario,” he said.
As for fans who might be concerned about Herman’s split allegiance, sophomore quarterback Cardale Jones has not seen any difference in Herman since news broke on Tuesday.
“He’s all about Ohio State right now,” Jones said. “He has a whole other team to lead, but that time hasn’t come yet. I believe he said before that he’s going to coach these next two games like he’s coming back next year. That’s what it’s looked like so far.”