Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

BenFred: Mizzou Must Make Houston's Herman Turn Down Tigers

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

BenFred: Mizzou Must Make Houston's Herman Turn Down Tigers

Article excerpt

The leaves are between turning and falling. Bowl games near. It's almost upon us. Coaching search season.

For the first time in 15 years, the University of Missouri is in the market for a football coach.

Prepare for the following: The tracking of booster-owned airplanes that could be transporting high-ranking officials to secret interviews, or just carrying a family toward its vacation destination; the deciphering of quotes from candidates who say they are happy where they are while their agents search for the richest ticket out of town; and the declaration that whoever is finally hired, no matter if he was first or 50th on the list, was the top choice all along.

Most coaching searches are long, winding roads. But every one has a start. Mizzou's hunt for Gary Pinkel's replacement should begin in Houston with Cougars coach Tom Herman. And Tigers fans should be delighted if it ends there.

"He's the right man, the right fit," Mack Rhoades, then Houston's athletics director, told the Houston Chronicle after he hired Herman in December.

The same is true for the first coaching vacancy Rhoades will fill since he replaced former Mizzou athletics director Mike Alden in March.

Those familiar with SEC recruiting describe Herman as a relentless acquirer of talent who outworks opponents to sign players who should be out of his reach. His fiery demeanor, Texas ties and national connections formed during his two seasons as Urban Meyer's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Ohio State could alter the talent pool at Mizzou.

A former head coach who once tried to hire Herman as an offensive coordinator calls him a sharp guy who has a great offensive mind and a special touch with quarterbacks. Herman won the Broyles Award, given to the nation's top assistant, after the Buckeyes won last year's national championship with their third-string quarterback. Houston, which beat Vanderbilt 34-0 this season, improved to 10-0 last Saturday. The No. 24 Cougars, led by their backup quarterback, a converted wide receiver, roared back from a 20-point fourth- quarter deficit to beat Justin Fuente, another fine option for Mizzou, and his Memphis Tigers by a point. The Cougars average 43.5 points a game.

Brian T. Smith, sports columnist at the Houston Chronicle, offered this synopsis:

"Thoroughly impressed from day one," Smith said by phone Tuesday. …

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