Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports


Tom Herman is close to being named the next coach at LSU, two sources close to the situation told Thursday.

A third source close to the situation said Herman definitely has been offered the head-coaching job at LSU but wondered if Herman would wait to finalize any agreement until he saw what happened at Texas with the fate of coach Charlie Strong - after Friday's game against TCU.

Herman has been the focus of a group of big-money donors at Texas for nearly a year, multiple sources told HD. 

A source close to Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, who was believed to be a leading candidate at LSU, told HD Thursday, "Jimbo already has a good job." The source said Fisher thinks he'll have two of his best teams at FSU the next two years.

I was told Thursday (Thanksgiving) that Texas president Greg Fenves was supposed to reach out to  Armstrong Wednesday night. Still trying to confirm if, in fact, Fenves reached out to Armstrong. 

Whether or not anyone from Texas reached out to Herman's camp Wednesday night or Thursday, the wheels were in motion Thursday for Herman to become the next coach at LSU - with a possible announcement on Saturday, I'm told.

Two sources told HD that on Monday LSU had given Herman a deadline of Wednesday night to respond to a job offer and that Herman or Armstrong were hoping to hear something from Texas - other than from UT intermediaries - before that Wednesday night deadline. 

Specifically, I was told, Herman's camp wanted to hear from a Texas decision-maker, such as Fenves, athletic director Mike Perrin ... or ... now ... UT chancellor William McRaven, who has injected himself into the process.

But I was told those UT officials were reluctant to do that until Texas' season was over - or perhaps never had the same interest in Herman as the group of influential big-money donors.

Those donors - many of whom wanted to go after Nick Saban three years ago - began expressing interest in Herman last December, when Strong's hire of offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert nearly went sideways and required Fenves and Perrin to take a private jet to Tulsa to close the deal.

If Texas needs a new football coach after Friday's game vs TCU and Herman is off the board, it sounds like Fenves, McRaven and Perrin would be starting from scratch, because none of them expected to be in a coaching search, sources said. Those sources said school leadership has been looking for a reason to keep Strong but that everything was thrown off by UT's shocking loss last week to previously 1-9 Kansas, dropping the Longhorns to 5-6 and Strong to 16-20 in three seasons in Austin.

A group of UT regents expected Strong to be fired, sources told HD. But Perrin put out a statement last Sunday night saying Strong would be evaluated through Friday's TCU game and that any decision would come after that.

HD reported a week ago Wednesday, according to high-level sources, all Strong had to do to continue as coach at Texas was beat Kansas, becoming bowl eligible with six wins, and play a close, "respectable" game - even in a loss to TCU - and Strong would be back at Texas in 2017.

On Wednesday, one of those high-level sources said Texas had to beat TCU "convincingly" on Friday for Strong to keep his job.

UT sources said school leaders have been looking for reasons to bring Strong back in 2017, in part, because his buyout would cost $10.7 million for the remaining two years on his contract as well as the $6.6 million in buyouts for assistant coaches’ guaranteed contracts. That concern is magnified with a legislative session starting in Austin in January with lawmakers trying to contain higher education costs (even though no state money is used for athletics).

Those sources said Fenves would do what he needed to do in paying for the buyouts if necessary.

All week UT intermediaries have been scrambling to identify other head-coaching candidates, including gauging the interest of Florida State's Jimbo Fisher, Baltimore Ravens' coach John Harbaugh and Clemson's Dabo Swinney.

One source said McRaven is being advised by former Texas coach Mack Brown, who apparently suggested North Carolina's Larry Fedora as a candidate if UT needs a new coach. Another source said Brown is hoping Brown would be a candidate at UNC if it opened after this season.

Sources indicated Herman's agent Trace Armstrong had expressed to UT intermediaries that Herman would like a say in new leadership for academic services and nutrition at Texas, among other things.

A source close to Herman said Texas brass never showed any real interest in Herman (only UT intermediaries and fans) and that Trace Armstrong didn't want Herman to put off LSU - waiting on a Texas offer that might never come. At LSU, Herman could be reunited with his Cal Lutheran roommate - Dave Aranda, who is currently LSU's defensive coordinator and another rising star in the coaching business.

Herman's offensive coordinator at Houston - former Longhorns' QB Major Applewhite - is from Baton Rouge and is well connected with folks at LSU. 

Applewhite and Houston defensive coordinator Todd Orlando could be candidates to replace Herman at UH.



Get the best UT recruiting and team coverage for just $6.95 per month! … PLUS! New annual memberships include a 1-year, digital and print subscription to Sports Illustrated - a $39 value!!

1. Select the "Annual Pass" option RIGHT HERE.

2. Enjoy HD’s attack-free message board community, where you are pulling up a bar stool among friends, and, of course, unparalleled insider information from Chip Brown, who has 25 years worth of connections covering Texas and is all over Big 12 realignment; Jason Higdon, the Yoda of Texas recruiting; and team and recruiting coverage from Taylor Estes!



Horns Digest Top Stories