AUSTIN, Texas -- Mack Brown taught Tom Herman how to manage people. David Bailiff taught him how to love your players. Paul Rhoades taught him passion for your work.
What Urban Meyer taught Texas' new head coach promises to be the behind-the-scenes theme of Herman’s first offseason in Austin.
During his introductory news conference Sunday night, Herman referred to his three years working for Meyer at Ohio State as "head coaching school." The No. 1 principle he says he picked up from that education, the guiding one that helped him go 22-4 at Houston, is the concept of alignment.
The way Meyer describes it, an aligned team understands and is fully committed to the same culture, strategy and purpose. Herman says everybody involved in the program must buy into the same vision, "from your assistant coaches to your strength staff to your support staff to your training room to the academic people to the expectations."
But first, this started Friday night with Texas president Greg Fenves and athletic director Mike Perrin. They met with Herman at an undisclosed location and listened to his vision for what Texas football should be and his blueprint for getting there. They bought in.
"I think I wouldn't be standing here today if President Fenves and Mike weren't committed to aligning every part of our athletic department with what we believe is a championship formula," Herman said. "I thank them for that, for committing to being aligned with our plan."
Herman will get carte blanche to make that happen, and that’s a must because Texas' athletic department can be downright dysfunctional with all of its internal politics and red tape. Getting everyone on the same page might feel like a herculean task at times in Year 1.
But the reply to any pushback Herman receives should be simple: "Do you want to go 5-7 again? Do you want to keep losing?"
As Meyer told The Columbus Dispatch in 2012 when he began building Ohio State into the program that has won 61 of his 66 games: "That’s going to be my mantra here: If you’re not aligned, you’ve got to go."
The next two steps: Hire the right people. Recruit the right players.
His predecessor was a gifted recruiter, but Charlie Strong's struggles at Texas began with his first coaching staff. Strong ended up firing or losing seven of the nine assistants from his initial staff.
Thus far, we know Herman is bringing with him at least four of his Houston assistants, his strength coach, director of operations and recruiting director. The rest are staying behind, at least for now, to coach the Cougars' bowl game.
Who Herman calls on to complete his staff in these next few weeks will be fascinating to follow. With nearly 10 weeks left until signing day, Herman and his coaches will have plenty of time to address recruiting and plenty of room to land the kids who fit the vision.
The big challenge? Getting all of Texas' players properly aligned to their new purpose. The goal here is to have one message, communicated with clarity and consistency, continually driven home to them.
"The NCAA says we only get them four hours a day during the season and two hours a day in the offseason," Herman said. "So when they walk in the building, every message that is thrust upon them, from a sign on the wall to an interaction with an academic counselor, the expectations and the management of the program has to be aligned."
He knows he must convince Texas players that his way is the right way. Considering they have experienced three straight losing seasons, the veteran players he'll try to persuade first should be amenable to change.
"I think we've got to attack them first," Herman said. "By attack, we've got to make sure that we have the upperclassmen believing in our plan and our way of doing things."
The love Herman showed his players at Houston was hard-earned. He says he spells love T-I-M-E. He’s going to be hard on these players. But when you prove you’re "a bonafide dude, a real guy" by his standards, the sky’s the limit.
This is the Tom Herman philosophy. This is Step 1 of the proven plan he’s putting together to win championships at Texas. It starts with building an organization, from president and athletic director to coordinators and coaches, all the way down to the secretaries and tutors -- of people wanting the same thing and pulling in the same direction.