Tom Herman Wins Coach’s Play Call of the Year

Nashville, Tenn. – It’s the play that moves immediately into lore. It swung the momentum, showed guts and made the difference. The USA TODAY Sports Coach’s Play Call of the Year is one of two awards to make its debut tonight during the inaugural American Football Coaches Awards show.

At the end of the regular season, USA TODAY Sports writers selected five plays where the head coach’s play call, not player talent or other factors, made a difference in the game. Fans voted on the five nominees from January 2-6, 2017, via the USA TODAY Sports website. After fan voting closed, the USA TODAY Sports staff ranked the five plays using several selection criteria, with input from fan voting being one, to determine the winner. This year’s winner of the USA TODAY Sports Coach’s Play Call of the Year is Tom Herman as he lead the University of Houston in the season opener against the University of Oklahoma.

Herman’s outstanding call for the Cougars against Oklahoma on September 3 sealed their victory at NRG Stadium in Houston and set the tone for the rest of the season. In the end, 13th-ranked Houston defeated heavily-favored, No. 3 Oklahoma 33-23. It was Herman’s winning play call that changed the momentum of that game.

After winning the coin toss, the Sooners started out strong, scoring on their first drive in convincing fashion. Houston responded with a pair of field goals and a touchdown; the Cougar defense was able to hold off Oklahoma until midway through the second quarter. Although they briefly gave up the lead, they closed some of the gap with another field goal. Herman then led the Cougs with a 1-2 punch, shutting down Baker Mayfield and regaining possession then scoring another field goal to put Houston up 19-17.

The Sooners came out after the half ready to regain the lead, but their drive stalled due to lost yardage and an incomplete pass. With Oklahoma using their second timeout in as many minutes, Herman was able to get his Cougars in position to shift the tide of the game.   When Austin Seibert attempted his second field goal of the night, this one for 53 yards, Houston’s Brandon Wilson was waiting in the end zone. James returned the missed field goal for 100 yards and Oklahoma never recovered from the shock.

Oklahoma was able to score late in the fourth quarter, but it was too little too late. Houston kept their lead until the end. This win marked the first time the Cougars had beaten a top-3 team since 1984. Herman led the team to a 9-4 season, which earned them an appearance in the Las Vegas Bowl. His success also landed him the head coaching job at the University of Texas – the top-3 team Houston defeated in 1984.
 
About the American Football Coaches Awards
The American Football Coaches Awards, featuring the AFCA National Coach of the Year, is currently being televised live on CBS Sports Network. This marks the first time the AFCA is televising its annual awards. The live one-hour program is airing from the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tennessee, and coincides with the AFCA’s annual convention. The host for the show, Eddie George, is a former Tennessee Titan running back and 1995 Heisman Trophy winner from Ohio State. Follow @WeAreAFCA or visit AFCA.com for more information.

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