LSU pulled offer to Tom Herman after he backtracked

Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports

BATON ROUGE, La. – LSU athletic director Joe Alleva, livid that Tom Herman backtracked on an oral agreement to be the next LSU coach, pulled his offer to the Houston coach late Friday night, a high-ranking source close to the search confirmed.

The source said a perturbed Alleva told Herman’s agent, Trace Armstrong, via phone Friday night, “Don’t worry. I have a guy who wants the job.” Ed Orgeron will be introduced as LSU’s new coach at a news conference Saturday.

After LSU lost its home finale to Florida, a group of decision-makers including Alleva, school president F. King Alexander and key members of the Board of Supervisors met and identified Tom Herman as their top target. Herman was “elated” and “surprised it was him over (Jimbo) Fisher,” said the source, who also said there never was a contract offer made to Fisher.

At that point, the group believed there to be a “greater than 50 percent” chance that Texas retained Charlie Strong. But the Longhorns’ loss to Kansas changed that and forced LSU’s plan into action. Herman assured the LSU brass “he wanted to compete in the best conference in the country,” the source said. The source said Herman also was turned off by the “politics” at Texas.

Moreover, there was a lingering concern over his offensive coordinator, Major Applewhite, being able to return to Austin. Applewhite was named in former Texas track coach Bev Kearney’s discrimination lawsuit against the school after he engaged in a consensual relationship with a student trainer before the 2009 Fiesta Bowl while a member of Mack Brown’s staff. “Major is a stumbling block,” the source said.

As first reported by HornsDigest.com, Herman and LSU had an agreement in place for him to become LSU’s coach. The source would not divulge exact terms but did concede the annual compensation was “north of five (million per year).” Papers were to be signed Saturday morning in Houston.

That changed when Armstrong called Alleva on Friday night to inform him that Herman wanted to hear out Texas; the Longhorns fell 31-9 to TCU on Friday afternoon to finish 5-7. It was then that Alleva, angered that Herman and Armstrong had reneged, pulled the offer and decided to hire Orgeron, the source said.

“It wasn’t about money,” the source said. “It wasn’t that Texas offered. It was about a gentleman’s handshake in place and you reneged.”

Texas fired Strong on Saturday morning and Herman is expected to get the Longhorns’ job.

There already have been talks with LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda about remaining on staff. In addition, the source indicated there is a “strong level of confidence” that Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin will join Orgeron’s staff. They are friends and Orgeron worked for Kiffin at Tennessee and USC.

(You can follow Matt Moscona on Twitter @MattMoscona)

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