With Texas and Houston locking down their new head coaches, all seemed relatively quite on the Lone Star front. Outside of a few staff moves, the drama that was the Tom Herman courtship seemed to have settled. Houston had lost a coach who elevated their program to new heights and replaced him with a young but rapidly rising coordinator. All that was left was for buyout money to change hands.
Then this happened.
Hunter Yurachek offers Texas chance 2reduce Tom Herman $2.5M buyout by Horns play UH home &home n football &hoops.UT AD Mike Perrin declined pic.twitter.com/3lWR6qvV8m
— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) December 12, 2016
“Mike Perrin and I did have some brief discussion about the potential to, um, move some of that money off the top, that $2.5 million, for a football and men’s basketball series. Specifically men’s basketball, we’re looking for an opponent to open up the new Fertitta Center for us. At this point in time there does not appear to be an interest from Texas in pursuing either one of those opportunities.” says Cougar AD Hunter Yurachek. From there, the questioning from Fox 26 reporter Mark Berman delves into the logistics of the Herman buyout and how this proposed home-and-home offer would work.
First and foremost, I don’t blame Texas for turning the offer down. For the Longhorns, the logistics just don’t make sense. In football scheduling, Houston is not a Power 5 program, and based on how the playoff committee is using strength of schedule (a metric that needs to be revisited) there wouldn’t be much to gain from a game against a reasonably tough Group of 5 team. The real deal breaker, however, is the home-and-home aspect. Fewer and fewer Power 5 teams are playing away games not mandated by their conference or traditional rivalries. When two teams do get together away from home, it’s more likely to be a neutral site game, because they offer interesting matchups at different venues without completely sacrificing a payout like one would for a true away game.
In basketball, the situation is similar. Sacrificing home games means sacrificing money, and while a basketball home game may not exactly draw in $2.5 million on its own, when coupled with a football away game, the value just doesn’t exist.
None of this changes the fact that this was a power move by Yurachek.
Despite all of the reasons outlined above, the college sports fans inside us all want to see contentious home-and-home matchups like this. We want to see teams like Texas go to a program like Houston. We want to see Herman face his former team and players, and we want to see the rowdy atmosphere that would happen if you coupled the opening of a new basketball facility with a visit from the biggest program in the state.
Modern college athletics is rapidly separating into the haves and have-nots. Houston, at least for now, is a threat to that division. College fans want to see David take on Goliath. Hunter Yurachek knows this, but so does Mike Perrin.
Texas has nothing to gain here. People only take notice when Goliath loses. So, they’ll squash the dreams of college sports fans everywhere. They’ll pay the $2.5 million dollars without breaking a sweat, and the status quo will go unchanged.