Tilman Fertitta ready to spend to keep Tom Herman as UH coach
Money won’t be the deciding factor if University of Houston football coach Tom Herman leaves, a top school official said Monday.
Billionaire Tilman Fertitta, chairman of the UH board of regents, said he has no concerns about getting into a bidding war with other schools to keep Herman.
“I do not fear a bidding war for Tom,” Fertitta said. “We’re not going to lose him over money.”
Herman, 22-3 in two seasons at UH, is expected to be a top candidate for several jobs, among them LSU and Texas if the Longhorns part ways with Charlie Strong. UT officials said Sunday they plan to evaluate Strong after Friday’s final game against TCU.
Offers sure to come
Along with Baylor - and if Oregon and Texas A&M make coaching changes - Herman could have multiple offers from which to choose. Texas is considered the favorite with its deep pockets and is believed to be a “dream job” for Herman.
An ESPN report Saturday said bidding for Herman could begin at $5.5 million. Herman earns $3 million, making him the highest-paid coach among Group of Five schools. UH officials have spent the past month discussing parameters of a new contract for Herman.
“We will do whatever it takes to keep Tom Herman at the University of Houston,” Fertitta said. “We’re not going to lose Tom Herman because of money. If Tom Herman wants to go to LSU or Texas or Oregon or Baylor or wherever else, we cannot stop him from doing that. But it’s not going to be because of money.
“Tom might want to compete for a national championship every single year and he thinks he might have a better opportunity at another school. We think the opportunity is very good here.”
In two seasons at UH, Herman is 6-0 against ranked opponents. That includes two wins over top-five teams Oklahoma and Louisville this season.
But after climbing to No. 6 in the national polls, the Cougars lost to Navy and SMU in October, ending any shot at the College Football Playoffs or a New Year’s Six bowl.
At a Power Five school, Herman would have considerable resources, a clearer path to the postseason and wiggle room for error that is nonexistent as a member of the American Athletic Conference.
Herman’s agent, Trace Armstrong, met with UH officials last week.
“It’s common when you are in contract extension talks,” Herman said of the visit. “So I can concentrate on winning games.”
Fertitta said he is aware of speculation that Herman will be coaching elsewhere next season.
“I absolutely do not think it’s a foregone conclusion that we’re going to lose our coach,” Fertitta said. “Tom Herman loves the University of Houston. He’s happy to be coaching at the University of Houston, and I think there are only a few places Tom Herman would even consider.”
Along with a bump in salary, UH has also worked with Herman on areas he considers a priority, including construction that began Friday on a $20 million indoor practice facility. Herman has also stressed the need for a football operations building adjacent to TDECU Stadium.
“When the season’s over, we’ll sit down with Tom Herman and make adjustments to his contract to pay him what he’s worth,” Fertitta said. “We’ll make other adjustments and other wants and needs that are important to him, and we’ll do whatever it takes to keep him as the football coach at the University of Houston.”