Tom Herman will return as Texas Longhorns coach in 2021

By Matt Johnson
Nov 7, 2020; Austin, Texas, USA; Texas head coach Tom Herman leads his team during warmups before the game against West Virginia at Royal-Memorial Stadium on Saturday November 7, 2020. Mandatory Credit: Jay Janner-USA TODAY NETWORK

The Texas Longhorns might not be back as a college football powerhouse, but head coach Tom Herman will return in 2021 after another disappointing season in Austin.

Texas wrapped up its COVID-shortened season after its finale against Kansas was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. After months of speculation surrounding Herman’s future with the Longhorns, athletic director Chris Cel Conte provided a definitive answer on Saturday.

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Texas Longhorns coach Tom Herman will return for 2021 season

As the 2020 college football season comes to a close, football fans in Texas were left feeling disappointed once again. After coming into the year ranked as the No. 14 team in the country, the Longhorns finished with a 6-3 record and will likely slide down from their No. 20 spot in the College Football Playoff rankings.

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Following months of speculation regarding a coaching search to find a potential replacement for Herman, Texas AD Chris Cel Conte announced that Herman would return to the program in 2021.

It’s likely not the answer fans and boosters were hoping to hear. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on every university this year. As a result, hundreds of universities have been forced to eliminate sports programs and every athletic department is dealing with drastically reduced budgets heading into 2021.

While a six-win season isn’t the outcome fans were hoping for, Texas seems to believe that Herman is their best option and he deserves another shot after a disappointing campaign.

The Longhorns signed Herman to a two-year extension in May 2019, when things looked promising after a 10-4 record and a Sugar Bowl victory the previous year. With his return next season confirmed, Herman can now work on improving the No.17 recruiting class in the 2021 cycle.

Tom Herman coaching record and problems at Texas

After some impressive work as the Ohio State Buckeyes offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach (2012-’14), that included a national championship, Tom Herman was hired in 2015 by the Houston Cougars.

Under Herman, the Cougars went from an eight-win team in 2014 to a 13-1 program in his first season. Houston made it to the Peach Bowl, knocking off the Florida State Seminoles (38-24). He immediately became a star in the coaching ranks and gained even more attention with a strong campaign in 2016 with the Cougars. After firing Charlie Strong, Texas swooped in and landed Herman.

He immediately took a shot at Strong in his introductory press conference. With the fan base excited about their new coach, expectations were immediately high. The Longhorns went 7-6 in Herman’s first season at the helm, but everyone anticipated he would turn this program back into a CFP contender.

All of that came crashing down in 2019 with a season-opening loss to Maryland. While the Longhorns rebounded with six consecutive victories, including a win over the Oklahoma Sooners, things came crashing down once again. Following consecutive losses to Oklahoma State and West Virginia, the Longhorns’ CFP hopes were crushed. In the Big Ten Championship game, Oklahoma got its revenge.

Texas has lost eight total games over its past two seasons and is getting beat on the recruiting trail. According to 247 Sports, 10 of the last 11 four- and five-star recruits in Texas from the 2021 recruiting cycle are committed to programs outside the state. But an even more painful blow occurred to the 2022 recruiting class. Five-star quarterback Quinn Ewers, viewed as a generational talent, decommitted from Texas in October.

The Longhorns will head into 2021 with tons of uncertainty. Sam Ehlinger is graduating and the program will lose multiple starters to the NFL, including at least one projected first-round pick. This team will look very different next season, which fans are pleased with. However, after falling short of everyone’s hopes, fans thought that Tom Herman would be gone, too.

If he can’t turn things around next year, expect Texas to move on quickly as this program searches for a way to return to national relevance.