FAU has hired Tom Herman, 47, as its next football coach, the university confirmed on Thursday. Herman, who last led the Longhorns in 2020, becomes the Owls' second coach in the last four seasons after the program fired Willie Taggart on Nov. 26.
Taggart amassed a 15-18 record in three seasons with FAU finishing 2022 at 5-7.
Herman joins the Owls with six years of collegiate head coaching experience. He most notably went 13-1 in his first season at Houston in 2015, improving the Cougars from 8-5 the year prior while capturing an AAC championship and Peach Bowl victory. Herman went 22-4 overall at Houston before leaving for Texas in 2017. With the Longhorns, he won 10 games in his second season with Texas appearing in the Big 12 Championship Game and ultimately winning the Sugar Bowl. However, the Longhorns went 15-8 from there with Herman being fired after a 7-3 effort in the COVID-19 shortened 2020 campaign.
Since his firing, Herman has spent his time working as an offensive analyst for the Chicago Bears and a TV analyst for CBS Sports Network.
"We are incredibly excited to welcome Tom Herman to Paradise," said athletic director Brian White in a statement. "Throughout the process and the more we talked with Coach Herman, the more it became apparent to me that he was the right person to lead our football program. Beyond his knowledge of the game, which is obvious by his success over the years, he also truly cares about the young people in his program. He has coached winning programs everywhere he has been and we believe he can be tremendously successful at FAU as well."
Herman is still relatively young by the standards of the coaching industry and boasts an impressive 54-22 career record with a 5-0 mark in bowl games.
Though Taggart did not work out, FAU has proven to be a spot where coaches can successfully rehabilitate their careers. Prior to his move to Ole Miss, Lane Kiffin enjoyed two 11-win seasons during a three-year stint at FAU, successfully using the Owls as a springboard back into the Power Five with the Rebels.
Herman will be FAU's sixth coach since the program began in 2001. Four of them are former coaches at high-profile schools. The first was Howard Schnellenberger, who amassed a 58-74 record in 11 years. A former NFL head coach and head coach of Miami, Louisville and Oklahoma, Schnellenberger guided the fledgling program from its infancy at the FCS level into the FBS ranks before retiring after the 2011 season.
The program struggled to an 18-42 mark over the next five seasons under Carl Pelini and Charlie Partridge before landing another big-name coach when Kiffin arrived after three seasons as Alabama's offensive coordinator. It was his first head coaching job since getting fired from USC in 2013, and he won a Conference USA title with the Owls in his first season.
Kiffin posted a 26-13 overall record with FAU before leaving for Ole Miss after the 2019 season. Taggart, who was fired from Florida State before the conclusion of his second season there in 2019, then succeeded Kiffin.
Former Texas coaches
Herman is just the latest former Texas coach to land another head coaching opportunity. Legendary former Longhorns coach Mack brown is in his fourth season at North Carolina, where he is 30-20 after inheriting a program that was 5-18 in the two seasons before his arrival. The Tar Heels are playing Clemson in the ACC Championship Game on Saturday.
Brown's successor, Charlie Strong, landed at South Florida in 2017, the year after he was fired following a three-year run that saw the Longhorns go 16-21. He immediately led the Bulls to a 10-2 record but was fired in 2019 after his third season when USF struggled to a 4-8 mark. Strong is now the co-defensive coordinator at Miami.
Relative to Strong, Herman was successful in his tenure at Texas. The Longhorns finished 10-4 and ranked No. 9 in 2018, which was his second season on the job. They finished in the AP Top 25 his final two seasons as well. But Herman posted 1-4 mark against rival Oklahoma, including a loss to the Sooners in the 2018 Big 12 Championship Game. That was Texas' only appearance in the league title game under Herman.
With FAU joining the AAC for the 2023 season, the Owls will have a chance to jockey for a prominent position in the revamped league. With Cincinnati, Houston and UCF headed to the Big 12, the conference will be up for grabs. Given the College Football Playoff's forthcoming expansion to 12 teams, the winner of the AAC will have a realistic shot at making the CFP each year as the top six league champions in the sport will receive automatic bids.
FAU's place in a recruiting hotbed and fairly recent success under Kiffin suggest that it could be competitive in the AAC as the conference competes with the Mountain West and others for supremacy in the Group of Five ranks.