Apologies for the late thoughts, as CR was traveling to San Antonio for the C-USA Championship Football game.
UAB hired Trent Dilfer. FAU hired Tom Herman.
One of these is very on-brand for the school, the other is quite outside the box.
We’ll start with UAB. Bill Clark was about as much of a serious football man as you can get. He was stoic, and his teams played defense and ran the ball. They won, if seemingly collapsing any fun and whimsy by sheer Clarkian will. Trent Dilfer is a television guy, happy to give a quote and make an appearance. He had a great college career in California, and won a Super Bowl by driving the bus for the great 2000 Baltimore Ravens. His name is synonymous with that kind of play. “Just be Trent Dilfer and don’t mess it up”.
Somewhere along the way he turned himself into a football coach. His style, by his own admission, is to hire talented guys and be the energy and force for the program otherwise. It is a classic CEO-style of a program. The head coach sets the culture and direction, while the rest of the staff gets to the details. Bobby Bowden won a whole lot of games like that, so do not knock it.
Dilfer has already boldly stated that he will be about energy and the Southeast had better be ready for him. The AAC will be waiting. Winning over the 2022 roster is step-one, especially after the search seemingly ignored them (from their point-of-view). That is not a major concern. Bill Clark and his era are over with. Bryant Vincent had a great shot to continue the rest of the Clarkian culture and came up way short. This Dilfer hire seemingly was out of nowhere and there are concerns that the AD ran a weird search.
Meanwhile, Tom Herman was hired at FAU. This very on-brand hire continues the recent FAU tradition of finding talented cast-off coaches and letting them work their magic in the fertile recruiting grounds around “Paradise”. Lane Kiffin famously dominated the league for two of his three years in Boca Raton. Before that he was a used-to-be that had flamed out at USC, Tennessee, and had spent time trying to rehab his reputation at Alabama under Nick Saban.
Willie Taggart had lost big at Florida State, after leaving Oregon on his coaching climb. FAU was a shot to do something where winning was possible, but where the lights are not as bright. Taggart failed with three mediocre teams. While a couple of those seasons were pandemic ones, this last year saw FAU struggle even with existing talent.
Now Tom Herman steps into the role, recently canned by the University of Texas. It was just a few short years ago that he was the G5 daring from Houston, after a career under Urban Meyer and elsewhere. Previously known as a great recruiter (he got talent to go to Houston) he apparently rubbed some Texas HS coaches the wrong way while in charge at Texas. Starting over at FAU give him a shot at rehabbing his reputation as a program-builder in a state replete with talent but again without the baggage.
FAU certainly knows what they want in a coach: names. UAB looks like they are trying a little something similar.