HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Tilman Fertitta, chairman of the board of regents at the University of Houston, said UH was powerless to keep Coach Tom Herman from leaving to become the next head coach at the University of Texas.
“It truly was nothing we do could do,” Fertitta said Saturday. “Everybody keeps asking me ‘gosh, how much money are they paying him. It’s not about money to Tom Herman.
“It was just the ability to compete and win at the universities that can play a Michigan or Ohio State or LSU or Notre Dame and have the athletes and the facilities to compete against them.”
Herman was 22-4 with the Cougars, 6-0 against Top-25 teams, and this season the only school to beat two teams in the Top 5.
In 2015, on Herman’s watch, the Cougars finished the season ranked eighth by the Associated Press with a 13-1 record, including a win over Florida State in the Peach Bowl.
Herman declined comment after meeting with his players Saturday afternoon on the UH campus.
“UH is a great program and we appreciate the last two years, but it was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up,” Fertitta said. “You have to grab things when you want them.
"Let's be honest, Texas is the only school in America that truly has its own network, the Longhorn Network with ESPN. Texas is Texas. As great as the University of Houston is, it’s not the same opportunity. It's no different than asking somebody, 'You want to be the governor of Rhode Island or the governor of Texas?'
The University of Houston named defensive coordinator Todd Orlando as the school’s interim coach.
According to sources, Orlando and offensive coordinator Major Applewhite, have expressed interest in becoming UH’s next head coach, and will be considered to replace Herman.
“In his short time in Houston, Tom Herman elevated the Houston Football program to new heights, and we are grateful for his contributions to our program,” said Hunter Yurachek, UH vice president for athletics, in a statement released by the school. “The entire University of Houston community wishes he and his family continued success in this new chapter in their lives.
“We will immediately turn our focus to identifying the next leader of our program. We are confident we will find the right individual who will support the young men who are and have committed to this program and who will also support our mission of building Champions for Life, both on and off the field.
“With a Tier One University, fertile recruiting ground, upgraded facilities including a new indoor practice facility slated to be completed next fall and a roster full of driven and talented student-athletes, the next leader of the Houston Football program will have an outstanding opportunity to compete for championships, maintain our program’s national prominence and continue the H-TownTakeover.”
UH has hired the search firm, Collegiate Sports Associates, to aid the school’s search for the Cougars next head coach.