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Mind of Mike: Herman's in-state recruiting failures loom large in dismissal

Tom Herman
Tom Herman (AP Images)

The Mind of Mike is a dangerous place. Here are the latest thoughts from Rivals National Director Mike Farrell about the firing of Tom Herman at Texas.

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MORE: Texas fires Tom Herman after four seasons

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TEXAS SURPRISES EVERYONE

Wow, just wow! Just when you thought Tom Herman's job was safe after Texas' blowout bowl win over Colorado, he is gone and it appears Steve Sarkisian is the choice to replace him. I can say I am truly surprised at how quickly this turned. Herman was thought to be out the door if the Longhorns had lost to Oklahoma State the same week he lost a commitment from five-star 2022 quarterback recruit Quinn Ewers. But Texas won that game, had a fairly strong end to the season and Herman seemed to be safe after Urban Meyer turned down overtures from Texas officials.

What are we to think now? With a massive buyout, Texas is taking a hit here and essentially admitting that it made two awful hires in a row in Charlie Strong and Tom Herman. The timing of this is odd.

HERMAN LOST TOO MUCH ON AND OFF THE FIELD

What doomed Herman? The simple answer is too many bad losses and average recruiting. Herman went 32-18 at Texas, which is not a good mark for a blueblood program that should have a decisive recruiting advantage in a talent-laden state. He was 22-13 in the Big 12, a conference that is widely recognized as a step below the SEC, Big Ten and perhaps even the ACC. Losing to Maryland, TCU and Texas Tech in his first season wasn't a great start, but losses to Iowa State (twice), Baylor and again TCU in the last couple of years really helped seal his fate. Heck, even the Longhorns' lucky, overtime win over Texas Tech this past September hurt his status. The only in-conference loss that should be somewhat palatable at Texas is an occasional setback against arch-rival Oklahoma. That's about it. That wasn’t happening.

I thought Herman was the right hire when Texas won out over LSU and others for his services after the 2016 season. I expected Herman to have led the Longhorns to a Big 12 title and an appearance in the College Football Playoff by now. With his work under Urban Meyer at Ohio State and his proven ability to recruit the state of Texas during his time with the Buckeyes and as the Houston head coach, this appeared to be a smart hire.

HERMAN FAILED AT IN-STATE RECRUITING

From a recruiting perspective, too many high-profile prospects ended up out-of-state under Herman’s watch. That was never more pronounced than during the 2021 recruiting cycle, with Longhorn legacies Tommy and James Brockermeyer spurning Texas for Alabama. That was simply embarrassing for Herman. Ewers' commitment led to talented 2021 signal caller Jalen Milroe to bolt for the Crimson Tide. And Texas was never in it for elite prospects like Bryce Foster, Camar Wheaton, Donovan Jackson or Tunmise Adeleye.

In Herman's first year recruiting at Texas, Lone Star State products Marvin Wilson, Walker Little, Baron Browning, Jeffrey Okudah, J.K. Dobbins and CeeDee Lamb all got away. Excuses could be made because it was a transitional class for Herman but losing prospects like Jaylen Waddle, Theo Wease, DeMarvin Leal, Kenyon Green, Erick Young, Demond Demas, Jaxson Smith-Njigba, Jaylon Jones and others added up.

How could Herman recruit so poorly at Texas? I have no idea.

SARKISIAN IS A CURIOUS CHOICE TO REPLACE HERMAN

Steve Sarkisian is expected to be named the new head coach and he certainly has experience after stints at Washington and USC. However, his USC tenure ended in controversy due to off-field issues. Sarkisian has apparently righted the ship and has led the Alabama offense to amazing heights over the last two seasons, but I’m not sold on this hire at all. Can Sark recruit the state better than Herman? I’m not so sure.

Sarkisian will inherit a talented and young roster led by emerging star running back Bijan Robinson. The 2021 recruiting class has some studs, mainly five-star candidate Ja’Tavion Sanders. Would Ewers, who committed to Ohio State following his decommitment from Texas, take another look at the Longhorns because of how Sark has worked with Mac Jones at Alabama? That’s doubtful considering Ryan Day’s work with quarterbacks but Sark will push.

Recruiting must improve and the development of key commitments is also a must as players like Caden Sterns, B.J. Foster and others never improved enough. Sark has an uphill climb but he’s still being handed the keys to a Lamborghini.

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