Tom Herman is a perfectionist, an exacting head coach who constantly preaches attention to detail. But he did make one mistake — in 1999.
As a graduate assistant with the burnt orange, Herman charted plays for former head coach Mack Brown and decided whether or not the team would go for two points following a touchdown. Herman would do the math before the series started, then signal with his hands a “one” or “two” for offensive coordinator Greg Davis.
“Yeah, it’s funny, because I wasn’t too nervous,” Herman said. “But I actually screwed something up in that game.”
Herman said a kickoff returned for a touchdown caught him off guard. Mack Brown demanded Davis make a decision on the two-point conversion quickly after.
“Mack Brown is calling to Greg Davis saying, ‘Is it two or one?’” Herman said. “(Greg’s) looking at me. I just froze. We called a timeout actually … Mack kind of chastised Greg a little bit, saying, ‘We can’t use a timeout, that’s unacceptable’ … I’ll never forget that night because of that.”
Herman has now come full circle since his mistake in 1999.
Fast-forward to 2017 as the 40-week prologue to the Tom Herman era comes to a conclusion on Sept. 2 as the Longhorns take on Maryland. Now, chapter one begins.
Texas can’t rewrite last season, but with a new era comes a new author. Herman and Co. have spent the last nine months repairing the program.
“It’s been a long nine months,” Herman said. “I’m actually relieved a little bit … to be preparing for an opponent, to doing a lot less media things, and to get back to coaching football and preparing to win a game.”
But no matter how much preparation the Longhorns put in, every team gets hit with adversity. Whether it be at the Los Angeles Coliseum against USC or in Ames, Iowa, against Iowa State on a Thursday night, the Longhorns are guaranteed to hit a rough patch during the season. The way they handle it will determine the course of the Longhorns season.
“I’m excited to see them play Saturday,” Herman said. “Like I said, the biggest test is when we face some adversity, do we respond the way we’re trained or do we respond by falling back into bad habits. That will be a big, big crossroads for us to go through,”
The countdown to week one began when Herman set foot on the 40 Acres nine months ago. Now, after nearly a year of training, it’s one day away.
Herman has come a long way from his mistake as an assistant in 1999, but he won’t be thinking about that come kickoff. He will be focused on showing the rest of the country exactly what he’s done at Texas since being hired last winter.
“We talked Saturday that we’re a week away from showing the world what we’ve been doing the last nine months,” Herman said. “They understand that we’ll be able to cut it loose and play the way that we’re trained to play and have a good time doing it, but in order to really have fun Saturday, we gotta win.”