He spoke with the same conviction that he spoke with his players as he sat two feet away from me. We talked football with a couple dozen Bear Bryant Executive Leadership Team members. I was in charge of hosting the Q A, which was easier than I could've ever imagined.
Eventually, I asked new University of Houston football coach Tom Herman about the infamous chains on the doors to the Cougars football facility.
He immediately fixed his gaze on me and said something I'll never forget.
"John, we can go through the motions and win six or seven in this conference. But, if we want to do something special, we've got to put in the work. They decided to put in the work and the chains came off the doors."
Herman's Cougars certainly did something special in 2015, finishing with a 13-1 record, an AAC championship and a New Year's Six Bowl win over vaunted Florida State. Herman's well known inside the Texans building as he coached with Mike Vrabel at Ohio State, coached against Bill O'Brien when the two were in the B1G and was a graduate assistant at The University of Texas alongside another graduate assistant at the time - John Butler, the Texans secondary coach. Herman's, and his program's, success this year hasn't shocked any of this coaching staff, that's for sure.
When the Cougars solidified the win over Florida State, I thought back to Herman's words and how prescient he had been prior to coaching his first game at the U of H. Then, I thought about the most famous University of Houston football alum there is. I picked up my phone and texted the man I spend each and every Sunday with in the fall, Andre Ware. His text back summed up how many Cougar fans felt an hour or so after the win.
"Still on cloud nine."
Thanks to Herman and his hard working squad, I've got a feeling Andre and Cougar fans everywhere will be on Cloud nine for a while.