Tom Herman headlines the new Group of Five coaches for the 2023 season. He takes over a Florida Atlantic program with minimal expectations the last couple of seasons, but Herman’s background immediately makes FAU an intriguing program to follow in 2023.
Herman, the former head coach at Houston and Texas, hasn’t coached at the collegiate level in a couple of seasons. How will he fare after some time off from coaching?
When it comes to Group of Five coaches with likely Power Five futures, Herman fits the bill of someone who will get another chance to lead a Power Five team. FAU wouldn’t hate that outcome, as it would require Herman to lead the Owls to a bunch of wins, but the program would also like to see long-term success.
Herman’s success and blueprint for the program could determine FAU’s future for the next 5-10 years. Here’s a look at what Herman brings to FAU, and what FAU may hope to receive from Herman.
Herman led Houston to a 13-1 record in 2015, including an AAC Championship. He knows what it takes to win the conference, although the league looks different now. He’ll immediately bring a championship mentality to Florida Atlantic, hoping to lead the Owls to league championships and national relevance.
In many ways, Herman looks the part of a home-run hire. Also of note, Herman’s teams are 5-0 in bowl games he coaches. He went a perfect 4-0 in bowl games at Texas, and his 2015 Houston team defeated Florida State in the Peach Bowl.
Herman understands what it takes to win at the highest level of college football, and he brings a history of success that not many Group of Five coaches can match. Herman also won a national title with Ohio State as its offensive coordinator.
Florida Atlantic fans have reason to be wildly optimistic about what the Herman era could look like in coming seasons. Herman’s history suggests the program will win plenty of games with him as head coach.
Program’s Long-Term Status
Florida Atlantic had a pair of 11-win seasons in the last decade under Lane Kiffin, but the program failed to win more than five games in any of Willie Taggart’s three seasons. The Owls need a jolt, and they’re joining the AAC, which should make life even more challenging.
Despite losing Cincinnati, Houston, and UCF, the AAC is still one of the better Group of Five conferences. Herman will have his work cut out for him as he tries to return the Owls to double-digit win seasons.
Perhaps most notable is the team’s need for increased consistency. Florida Atlantic hasn’t put up back-to-back winning seasons since 2007-08.
Sure, Herman seems like he’s capable of leading the Owls to better than Taggart achieved, but can Florida Atlantic become a consistent winner? Kiffin won games at FAU but quickly parlayed the success into the head coaching job at Ole Miss. After Kiffin left, FAU became a somewhat irrelevant C-USA team.
Can Herman impact FAU in a way that leads to long-term success? Will he leave for a Power Five gig in the next 3-5 years? If he does, will he set up the next coach for success?
Florida Atlantic’s short-term outlook is bright, but the long-term future is a mystery.
Bennett Conlin is a college football contributor for HERO Sports, and he works full-time covering sports betting industry news and legislation for Sports Handle and US Bets.