Texas completed a coaching transition in a single day Saturday, firing third-year coach Charlie Strong in the morning and announcing Tom Herman as his replacement in the afternoon.
NFL.com senior analyst Gil Brandt confirmed Herman and Texas agreed to a five-year deal that will pay him $5 million annually. He'll be tied with Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin for the seventh-highest FBS coaching salary.
The swift action opened and closed one of the most high-profile coaching jobs in the nation before any more speculation about a replacement for Strong -- his fate reportedly was sealed after last week's loss to Kansas -- could percolate. Texas finished the season with a 31-9 loss against Texas Christian on Friday, a loss which left the Longhorns out of the bowl picture for the second consecutive year. In three seasons, Strong compiled a record of 16-21, and at a tradition-rich program like Texas, with a salary in excess of $5 million per year, expectations for Strong were naturally high. His record of success at Louisville, where his team went 12-1 in 2013 before he was hired by UT, fueled hope of a quick turnaround for the Longhorns, as well.
"It's a very difficult day for me, my family and all of the people affected by this decision," Strong said in a statement. "I'm most disappointed for these kids and our staff who have poured so much of their lives into this program for the last three years. I do understand that it comes down to wins and losses, and we have not done our job in that area yet. I accept full responsibility for that, but know in my heart that we accomplished our primary goal, which is the development of young men."
"The opportunity to come back to Texas is a dream come true for me and my family, and I can't thank President Fenves and Mike Perrin enough for providing me with this incredible opportunity," Herman said. "Longhorn football has been -- and always will be -- a national power, winning and playing for national championships with great pride and passion, supported by an unbelievable fan base."
NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein said Herman's recruiting prowess in the state of Texas will be of great benefit in taking on the Longhorns job.
"I know that Herman is a little bit limited in terms of his head coaching experience, but let's remember that he's coached at seven different schools in the state of Texas and he knows the high school coaches in this state. Coach Herman also brought a five-star prospect, Ed Oliver, into the university of Houston and that guy is already one of the top defensive tackles in the nation as a true freshman," Zierlein said. "He's been a double digit underdog three times in two years at Houston and has won all three of those games outright (twice over Louisville and once over Oklahoma). He can recruit, he gets his guys up for the big game and he knows how to put together a great staff. He should be able to build on what Charlie Strong has started to put together at University of Texas."
Houston named defensive coordinator Todd Orlando as interim coach. Herman's two-year run of success at Houston made him an obvious target for coaching searches at bigger schools. The Cougars were 13-1 in 2015, Herman's first year there, with a win over Florida State in the Peach Bowl. This season, UH is 9-3 with wins over the only two Power Five conference opponents on its schedule: Oklahoma and Louisville.
Reports swirled Thursday about potential interest from both Texas and LSU in Herman, including a report that Herman met with LSU officials Thursday. LSU released a statement during a 54-39 win over Texas A&M which said that no decision had been made, and Fox Sports reported Friday that a meeting between Herman and LSU did not occur.
Prior to reviving the program at Houston, Herman was the offensive coordinator at Ohio State, where he helped the Buckeyes to a national championship following the 2014 season.