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One underrated storyline about the Big 12 turning down expansion on Monday: how it affects Tom Herman as the coach of the Houston Cougars.

Herman is the hottest coaching candidate available in college football, as many expect him to leave Houston for a Power 5 job after this season. However, there was a chance of Herman staying at Houston: it involved the Cougars being invited to the Big 12, which would have activated a $5 million bonus for Herman. That bonus, plus being in a bigger conference, could have been enough to keep the young head coach in H-town.

Alas, the Big 12 denied Houston, and now it looks like Herman will bolt more than ever. With that in mind, here are the Top 3 spots for Herman to land if he does decide to leave Houston this year.

1. Texas

This has been a reported “dream job” for Herman, and it looks like Charlie Strong’s time could be running out with the Longhorns. Texas could give Herman everything he could ever as for: money, a big time job, access to recruits, tradition, etc. There are few bigger jobs in college football, and after being denied access to the Big 12 via expansion, this could be a way for Herman to slip in the conference regardless of what OU president David Boren says.

2. LSU

If Herman wants the job in Baton Rogue, there is a good chance that the LSU administration will gladly part ways with an effective Ed Orgeron to make it happen.

LSU is already talented, so Herman would have to do much building in terms of recruiting, Where Herman could really make LSU great again, though, is at quarterback. LSU offenses slowed down under Les Miles, and while things have picked up under Orgeron, Herman would give the Tigers the ability to do something new; something that practically no one in the SEC could match thanks to his offensive philosophy.

Hey, Herman didn’t win a title as Ohio State’s offensive coordinator for nothing.

3. USC

Clay Helton’s seat has cool down in recent weeks, but like LSU, if Herman really wants to go to USC… they will make it happen.

USC definitely isn’t a rebuild, but they could definitely use some replenishing in terms of talent. Herman would be a great get for them to go get that talent, as Herman’s youth and energy would definitely benefit him on the west coast. USC may have some reservations about changing coaches for a second time in a 15-month span, but Herman should definitely be their guy if he’s available.

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