USA Today reported the second-year Houston coach met with officials from the school on Thursday afternoon to discuss replacing Les Miles, who was fired in September. If reports are true, it would end more than a year of speculation about when Herman would be hired by an elite program.
Since Miles' dismissal and hot seat rumors at Oregon, Texas, and elsewhere, the bulk of coaching predictions have focused on those three programs, with Herman's name topping most lists. But what happens at Houston if he leaves?
If he does travel 275 miles east on I-10, the Cougars are forced to replace yet another coach — Art Briles left for Baylor in 2007 and Kevin Sumlin for Texas A&M in 2011. Here a few purely speculate candidates that might replace him, listed in no particular order.
Current Position: Head Coach – Tulsa
Montgomery is 44 years old, coached Texas high school football for nearly a decade, spent five seasons on Art Briles' staff at Houston (2003-07) and should get snatched up by a Power Five program in the next year or two.
It's impossible to tap anyone as a favorite this early, but Philip Montgomery could not be a better fit.
Current Position: Head Coach – Troy
Despite already leading Troy to their highest win total since 2010 and within two wins of their highest as an FBS program, 36-year-old head coach Neal Brown remains relatively unknown.
Brown first earned national headlines when taking over the Texas Tech offense under Tommy Tuberville (2010-12) before taking the same position under Mark Stoops at Kentucky — where he played three seasons before transferring to UMass — in 2013. After two seasons in Lexington, Brown hopped to Troy, where he has found tremendous success.
Current Position: Offensive Coordinator – Alabama
It took Lane Kiffin less than three seasons to revitalize his coaching career and become one of the hottest head coaching candidates in the country. Sure, he has the baggage of failed stops with the Oakland Raiders and USC, and a tense one-year stint at Tennessee, but remains a young (41) offensive wizard who can dominate on the recruiting trail.
He hasn't coached at a non-Power Five program since 1999 and has never coached in the state of Texas. Neither matter.
Current Position: N/A
It's too interesting to pass up.
Schematic- and recruiting-wise, it would be a home run. The Texas native, former Houston receiver and Cougars head coach would join a short list of men who voluntarily left programs to return.
Houston just needs to ask if it's worth it.
Current Position: Offensive Coordinator – TCU
Another young (36) coordinator at an big-time program with Texas ties — similar to Kevin Sumlin and Tom Herman pedigrees when they were hired from Oklahoma and Ohio State, respectively — Cumbie passed on the Texas offensive coordinator position last year to remain with TCU, meaning he obviously likes it enough to remain there.
However, head coach at Houston is a bigger opportunity, and one that the former Texas Tech quarterback might jump at. The biggest deterrent is that Cumbie might be more interested in the head job at his alma mater if Kliff Kingsbury is dismissed.