Tom Herman Wins Inaugural USA TODAY Sports Coach’s Play Call of the Year

WACO, TEXAS Former University of Houston head coach Herman was honored with the inaugural USA TODAY Sports Coach’s Play Call of the Year.


“This was a play we never expected to use, but when we did, we ran to perfection,” Herman said. “We all have it in the playbook and it’s a unique situation – we wouldn’t try to block the field goal, but instead, to return it. We just went back there to see what we could do.”


It’s the play that moves immediately into lore. It swung the momentum, showed guts and made the difference. 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. Once fan voting closed, the USA TODAY Sports staff ranked the five plays, with input from fan voting being one of several selection criteria, to determine the winner. The nominees for the USA TODAY Sports Coach’s Play Call of the Year were:


Houston vs. Oklahoma, September 3, 2016 at NRG Stadium, Houston

Head Coach: Tom Herman

Houston puts a player in the end zone for a long Oklahoma field goal. It’s returned for a touchdown providing a major momentum swing.


USC at Utah, September 24, 2016

Head Coach: Kyle Whittingham

Utah was down 27-24 to USC at the Trojans’ 23-yard line with 45 seconds left, facing fourth down. Utah could’ve kicked a field goal to tie and go to overtime. They went for it, converted and scored the game-winning touchdown on the next play to win 31-27. That was the last time the Trojans lost a game.


Georgia Tech at Pittsburgh, October 8, 2016

Head Coach: Pat Narduzzi

Pittsburgh throws a touchdown pass to an offensive lineman against Georgia Tech.


Iowa State at Kansas, November 12, 2016

Head Coach: David Beaty

Kansas runs a camouflaged kick return to perfection against Iowa State.


Michigan at Ohio State, November 26, 2016

Head Coach: Urban Meyer

Ohio State goes for it on fourth down in second overtime against Michigan.


About the American Football Coaches Awards

The American Football Coaches Awards, featuring the AFCA National Coach of the Year, will be on CBS Sports Network on January 10, 2017 at 9 p.m. EST. This marks the first time the AFCA will televise its annual awards. The live one-hour program will air from the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tennessee, and coincide with the AFCA’s annual convention. The host for the show will be Eddie George, former Tennesse Titan running back and 1995 Heisman Trophy winner from Ohio State. Follow @WeAreAFCA or visit for more information. Check local listings at


About the AFCA

The AFCA was founded in 1922 and currently has more than 11,000 members around the world ranging from the high school level to the professional ranks. According to its constitution, the AFCA was formed, in part, to “maintain the highest possible standards in football and in the coaching profession” and to “provide a forum for the discussion and study of all matters pertaining to football.”


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