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Saturday, June 25, 2022

Commentary

Houston and Herman, a match made in heaven


UH hosted the inaugural AAC title game after clinching the West division title last week. | Justin Tijerina/The Cougar

In the roughly one year since he’s arrived at UH, Herman has changed the mentality surrounding UH’s relationship with the city of Houston. | File photo/The Cougar

Since he’s arrived at Houston, head football coach Tom Herman has championed the city of Houston, as well as UH.

Herman has said numerous times that the Cougars play for Houston and want to do well for the city to make them proud. This past season, UH has been the place to go if you want to see winning football in this city, and it looks like it might stay that way. More than that, Herman has bought into the city itself and seemingly adopted it as his own.

Before the season started, Herman made a promise to his team that if they won the American Athletic Conference championship, he would get himself a grill.

No, not the barbeque kind: the mouth kind.

Herman could have easily laughed off the promise or bought some cheap piece of jewelry to use just for show, but he’s going the whole nine yards, so to speak.

Now, Herman is making good on his guarantee, and who better to help him get just the perfect piece of bling than Paul Wall, noted hip-hop artist from Houston who’s been known to flash some bling from time to time?

It’s not just Herman either; he’s merely adopting a trend of embracing Houston that this team has been carrying on for some time.

The Cougars’ defense has had a string of good seasons under former coordinator David Gibbs and under current coordinator Todd Orlando, and the mentality they bring to the field has mirrored the city. Talk to anyone on the defensive side of the ball for a couple of minutes, and you’re sure to hear the terms “3rd Ward D” or “Jack Boyz” thrown around.

The defensive unit has adopted the identity of what’s around them and shown they’re proud of where they are, even if it’s not where they come from. While they’re at UH, these players have shown a pride to play for both UH and Houston as a whole, even if the city and fans haven’t always showed them the fullest support.

Herman and the coaching staff easily could have tried to kill that identity coming in, one developed under an old coach, and tried to fashion a new one. Instead, the new staff has run with it, and carried it even further.

In his short time at UH, Herman has shown a strong dedication to the city of Houston and pride to be living and coaching here, and that support has repaid him. The stadium sold out back-to-back weeks, and attendance reached into the 35,000 range during the AAC Championship Game against Temple University. As much as Herman and the team have bought into Houston, the city is starting to buy into him.

Rumors swirled this offseason that the Cougars’ head coach wasn’t staying for long in this city, with other notable job offers opening up, but Herman chose to stay, for the time being, signing a five year contract.

Does that guarantee he stays the whole time? No.

The landscape of college football is shifting. UH is still only a Group of Five team, unable to offer the same perks as a University of Texas or Texas A&M University, but Herman has treated every day he’s at UH like he intends to stay for life.

As a fan base recently plagued by coaches eager to jump at the next-best offer, that commitment is  reassuring, and it makes us feel like our school and program matters.

The Cougars have a tough test ahead of them in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl against Florida State University, and UH has an even tougher fight ahead of them to hold on to Herman. But, in the meantime, he’s taking over H-Town, one game and one day at a time.

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