The University of Houston wants very much to keep Tom Herman, and they're willing to put up the cash to do it.
How much? $3 million, up from his current salary of $1.3 million. That's a lot of money - more than any other Group of Five coach ($800,000 more than Cincinnati's Tommy Tuberville).
But is it outside of the University of South Carolina's budget? Well, maybe not. See, Steve Spurrier will be making $4 million this season despite not finishing out the season, so $3 million could be very achievable for South Carolina to match. Here's the thing: that $3 million is only a starting point. Houston is willing to go higher if they need to. Can you say "bidding war"?
But it's not that cut and dry. Here are a few sticking points that might get in the way of the Gamecocks luring Herman to Columbia:
- Herman's buyout is set at $2.25 million. Essentially, if South Carolina brings him on board, they'll be paying whatever Herman's first year salary is, plus that buyout. If that ends up being $4 million, Spurrier's final salary, it will actually be $6.25 million they're putting up. That's not including a possible salary pool to hire assistants - which might include Herman's offensive coordinator at Houston, Major Applewhite, and his defensive coordinator, Todd Orlando - and any incentives that the university would be sure to add if Herman reaches certain achievements.
- Houston's looking toward the Big 12. They're hoping to have a coach like Herman on board to help them get there. The possibility of taking a team from The American, where it would be difficult for them to win a national championship, to the Big 12, a conference with much better competition, a pathway to a higher caliber of recruits, and a much better shot at a playoff spot, could be a major selling point for Herman to stick around. (But, with South Carolina already in the SEC, Houston could actually be at a disadvantage in this regard.)
- The family angle might be the most important. Herman has a wife and three young children that would ideally like to settle down somewhere for a while. Accepting a job at South Carolina or somewhere else would represent their third move in three years, and while Herman wouldn't be the first coach to do it, it's a bit unsettling.
Here's the big question: how far up can Houston go? And how far up would the University of South Carolina be willing to go with Houston? Until Herman's pen hits paper, this story is far from over.