[untold] sideline stories: Houston's first class

As a sideline reporter we prep each week with enthusiasm to find unique stories to draw human interest and add depth of content to our broadcast. We read a plethora of articles, reach out to schools’ respective SID’s, schedule conference calls and talk to players as they’re usually coming off the practice field. We prepare with stories a plenty in hopes to insert them into our broadcast as it correlates to the narrative of the physical story unfolding before our eyes. Unfortunately, a lot of those notable conversations or little “nuggets” if you will never make it on air. I figured this would be a pretty cool place to get some of those unique stories “out there” because you wouldn’t hear them from anywhere else.

Quick recap:

  •  9/12 Houston @ Louisville
  • Houston stunned Cardinals at home with a victory
  • Resilient and gritty Houston team hung in there for 4 quarters

Houston’s Tom Herman is in his first year as head coach for the Cougars. He spent the past 3 seasons at Ohio State working under Urban Meyer as his Offensive Coordinator. He was a driving force behind their successful trio of QB’s… oh and they won the national championship last year.

It was hard for me to choose which [untold] sideline story to write about because the Herman + Houston narrative is so intriguing to me. I’ve been around a lot of coaches and feel like I have this knack of picking up on the ones who just have that something special going on. Coach Herman is one of those guys and I could immediately hear it in his voice via phone. It was confirmed when I met him on gameday.

He’s incredibly passionate about his team, their purpose, and making Houston not only a predominant name in the AAC, but CFB in general. If you Google any article about Herman + Houston there’s a constant narrative: he’s changing the culture. You hear that phrase a lot in the football world so what makes Herman and these Cougars so different?

For one they’re family. They’re a “brutally honest” family and have collectively embraced the meritocracy approach. You get what you deserve at Houston.

“I don’t care if you’re the starter in such and such position, you’re going to earn it. And if you mess up, you’re going to hear about it… even if it’s in front of everyone. 

“Niki I don’t know how your family does things, but in my family we’re honest. And we hold each other accountable.” –Tom Herman

I could quickly infer how much he genuinely cares about his program, his coaches and his players. I mean I’m talking about the same coach who physically laid tile himself at the facility and paid for it out of his own pocket to improve conditions. He’s also made a stride to improve conditions for certain [and deservingly so] players.

Herman has been very vocal the big fellas getting things done in the trenches will be the driving force behind his team. And for that reason alone he, his coaches, his players and so on will treat them like first class.  The offensive and defensive linemen are first in line before others no matter what they’re doing [eating] or where they’re going [away games].  In fact up until Coach Herman took the reigns, Houston boosters occupied first class seats when the Cougars traveled to away games. Not anymore. Louisville marked the first game where it all changed. Coach calls his linemen “gladiators” because they literally bleed on the line week after week. In football nobody gets pounded harder than the front 5. He said if he wants to treat them like first class, he wants to give them first class. He wants to make sure they’re comfortable and taken care of because they take care of us on gamedays. Here’s a shot of Ben Dew and Zach Johnson enjoying the legroom and extra few inches. I’m sure they’re enjoying the extra snacks too. Just kidding. Okay, I’m not kidding.  

I asked Coach if he received any backlash from boosters about the switch and he candidly conveyed he didn’t care because they deserve it. And they’re the ones who help us win football games.

I love it.

“It’s not hard do gain respect for him [Herman]. He says what he means. He doesn’t lie and gives us the truth.” – Senior safety [and captain] Adrian McDonald aka A Mac.

Ps: you still can order bloody mary’s and mimosas from coach.

Pps: follow #HTownTakeover and the Coogs this season