Sunday Conversation: Coach Tom Herman

Last season ended with the Rice Offense clicking on all cylinders. Today we talk with the brains behind the high powered Owl offense, Rice Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach Tom Herman…

Though he's one of the youngest Offensive Coordinators in Division I football he's also one of the brightest. If last year's late season output is a sign of things to come we'll need to write Owl offensive record books in pencil – they'll likely change frequently! We caught up with Coach Tom Herman recently to talk a little about what got him to this point in his young career.

I've asked the other coaches when they felt called to the sidelines. For you I guess it's a higher calling, as in the booth upstairs. Was coaching a lifelong goal for you?

"No, I didn't really think about until my last semester of college. I always thought I would be a broadcaster, but wanted to stay closer to the game. I knew I wasn't going to play professionally, so I figured the next best way to stay close to the game I love was to coach."

What are the things you really like about coaching?

"The best part of coaching is the relationships you develop with the players and the coaches. Watching the players grow into men is also extremely gratifying and having them come back after they've graduated and have them tell you that the things you taught them helped in life them is very special."

As a Coordinator you have a broad set of responsibilities, play calling among them. When did you develop your instincts for calling a game?

"Play calling is always a learning experience. I vomited three times before calling my first game at Texas State. Just like any profession, you learn from your mistakes and you learn from those who have had success. Watching Greg Davis call plays for two years as a GA at Texas really taught me how to think a play ahead and have tremendous calmness in the heat of battle."

How would you describe your coaching philosophy?

"I would say I ‘m a good communicator. I don't do a lot of yelling and screaming. Especially at Rice, when you're dealing with intelligent young men, they just want to be told how to do something; when they do it incorrectly they want you to tell them why and how to fix the problem. We do have high expectations for them, in fact we demand excellence. Of course there's accountability - if a problem is continually an issue we will deal with that problem in a punitive manner."

You indicate some differences in coaching at Rice, expand on the differences compared to the other places you've coached…

"I believe that because of Rice's high academic standards, most young men we coach are overachievers by nature. They've had to be to get to where they are in life. They understand the value of hard work and discipline."

You also work with the QBs at Rice, besides the obvious athletic tools what is the most important intangible you look for when recruiting a QB?

" Leadership ability! It's hard to measure during recruiting, so we have to trust the high school coaches. If you have a QB that can lead effectively and positively, the rest will take care of itself."

A lot of coaches say they got their strategies from the coaches they've worked with or played for coming up in their careers. Has there been a coach that's greatly influenced your career and how so?

"Certainly Coach Bailiff has been a tremendous influence in my life. He gave me my first coordinator job at 29 years old and really trusted us offensively. I have learned so much from him on how to manage not just a staff or a team, but an entire Program. Also, Mack Brown and Greg Davis were the two coaches who gave me a chance early in my career to learn football from the best. And finally, Ron Randleman, former Head Coach at Sam Houston State gave me my first full-time job and gave me four great years in Huntsville."

With his experience as a Coordinator at Colorado State, the addition of WR's Coach Dan Hammerschmidt would seem to be a great asset to the Offense. What has he brought to the staff?

"Hammer has been great. He has been a guy that I've leaned on when I am at a crossroads about something. Not a day goes by that I don't say something to the effect of, "Hey Hammer, how did you guys do such-and-such?" And he always has a very wise response."

What coaches do you consider "offensive innovators"?

"Mouse Davis, Hal Mumme, Mike Leach, Rich Rodriguez, Urban Meyer, Chip Kelly…"

Off the topic of football - what's on your IPOD right now?

" I have no MP3 player. I listen to the comedy stations on my Sirius (satellite radio) in the car. It keeps me laughing when times are tough."

Well, hopefully those days are behind you Coach. Any advice for the youth players out there…?

"Work harder than you ever thought possible, and once you've worked that hard, worker even harder. Constantly push yourself in all areas of life."

You've obviously followed that advice to get to where you are so early in coaching. Good luck this fall Coach, thanks for the time. Anything you would say to recruits and fans out there?

"It's R time!"


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