Well, it’s true: Tom Herman has been fitted for a grill by Houston’s own Paul Wall.
No, Herman didn’t lose a bet – mainly because he isn’t allowed to make any – but he did make a promise, and, as a man of his word, he kept it.
“It’s not a bet – because that would be against the NCAA rules,” Herman explained on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “It was a promise that I had made. I was walking with Demarcus Ayers, one of our top wide receivers and leaders on our team from our field house to Hofheinz Arena to be introduced as a new staff at the halftime of a basketball game, and this was like in February. We were just trying to get to know our players a little bit better – we had only been on the job a month or two – and he had a grill in. And I said, ‘Hey, DA, what’s with the grill, man? I thought those things were out.’ And he said, ‘No, coach, not down here. They’re still hip. They’re still in. You should get one.’ I kind of laughed for a little bit and I said, ‘You know what, Demarcus, I’ll tell you what. If we go and win the conference championship, I will get a grill and I’ll let you and some of the other leaders design it.’ They upheld their end of the bargain, and so I figured it was time that I uphold mine.”
Indeed, Houston went 12-1 and won the AAC Championship.
Still, don’t expect Herman to flash his newfound bling too often.
“I’m going to go ahead and say that for me, as a 40-year-old head coach of a Division I football team, that the grill will not be in my mouth very often,” Herman joked. “It will probably reside permanently next to our conference-championship ring displayed somewhere nice in my office. But maybe on some really special occasions, if a recruit asked me to do it or something, I might pop it in and walk around for a little bit and maybe take some pictures.”
The university would probably be okay with that. In fact, at this point, its safe to say that the university would be okay with pretty much anything Herman does. The Cougars have been nationally ranked for much of the season, and their only loss came at Connecticut, where they were held to a season-low 17 points and beaten in the fourth quarter on a trick play.
No. 18 Houston (12-1) plays No. 9 Florida State (10-2) in the Peach Bowl on Dec. 31 at noon E.T.
Herman, who was highly sought after in recent weeks, signed a five-year contract extension with Houston earlier this month.
“The athletic director here, Hunter Yurachek, was very proactive in trying to at least get approval of a new deal for myself,” Herman said. “That was on the table with a good month left in the season. So that was reassuring to know that a school like the University of Houston would make not only a financial commitment to me and my assistants, but the other things that aren’t as publicized in the contract (were also important): the facilities, upgrades that are guaranteed in the contract, as well as some other things that will really benefit our student-athletes and help us recruit. So that was on the table.”
Herman said that he received “multiple inquiries” from other schools but that he was “not close” to leaving Houston. As it turns out, he decided to stay for a very simple reason.
“I like winning,” Herman said, “and this is a place where I think our league has certainly separated itself as the premier non-Power 5 conference in the country. In the way that the system is set up currently, if you win the American Athletic Conference, you’re going to go to a New Year’s Six bowl game. I think that if you’re not at one of those schools that can perpetually compete for a national championship, then wining 11, 12, 13, 14 ball games a year, a lot of trophies, a lot of rings and New Year’s Six bowl games, all in the greatest city on the earth – I think that’s a pretty enticing endeavor.”