COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Bad weather left Tom Herman stranded on a highway for hours, kept him up all night, forced him to abandon a rental car and ultimately rely on the kindness of a stranger to make it to the airport.
But Mother Nature still couldn't claim a victory over the Ohio State offensive coordinator despite literally freezing over his recruiting trail Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning.
The snowy, icy conditions that wreaked havoc on the Atlanta area did force Herman into a 19-hour travel odyssey that he dutifully detailed on his Twitter account. But ultimately one of the most productive recruiters on the coaching staff made his way to the airport, caught a flight that was scheduled to leave only one hour later than his original plans called for and needed to reschedule only one meeting, perhaps giving the Buckeyes a big offseason victory over a formidable opponent.
"No, no, there's no way I was losing," Herman said by phone after arriving in the Dallas area, showering and heading out to look for some caffeine. "I won.
"I don't know if I was fighting Mother Nature, and I certainly don't want to blame the city of Atlanta, but they aren't as equipped to deal with that weather as a city in the Midwest or the North. Anything that would have happened like this in Columbus or Iowa or wherever, it probably wouldn't have been an issue."
Instead it turned into a major problem for one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country, with Herman experiencing the gridlock on the roads firsthand as the perilous driving conditions made getting around Atlanta almost impossible.
Thanks again to everyone for their well wishes and prayers. Please continue to pray for those still stuck out there. It is truly a mess.
— Tom Herman (@CoachTomHerman) January 29, 2014
Herman passed the time in the unmoving traffic by snapping photos, providing running updates and reading messages of support from fans on his Twitter account. He stayed up through the night until calling for help in the morning, receiving some advice from ESPN's Scott Van Pelt to ditch his rental car and then deciding to walk to the airport.
It wasn't any easier to get around on foot, but after falling "five or six times," Herman was able to hitch a ride with Delta employee Terry Spiller.
Even that part of the journey wasn't a smooth one, as Herman and Spiller stopped to assist a woman who had fallen near the side of the road, calling an ambulance and waiting for help to arrive.
Eventually Herman hopped on a plane and caught a couple of hours of sleep on the way to Texas, a happy ending, at least for him.
But after living the nightmare and seeing the damage the storm was inflicting, his thoughts were still on the people who aren't out of the woods yet even while he went back to work on the road elsewhere.
"I think there were previous [recruiting] trips when I was snowed in, maybe once or twice, but that was in the hotel," Herman said. "The snow would come through the night and you knew schools were going to be closed, but you were in town and couldn't do anything about it, so you just hung out in the hotel.
"Nothing close to having to spend the night in my car on the freeway in Atlanta. It was scary out there, and there are kids and families out there trying to figure out what's going on and what to do, and I'm still thinking about them. I didn't do anything heroic or anything."
He did win an individual battle with the weather, though. And the recruiting trail is once again all clear ahead for Herman.