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COLUMBUS — Ohio State took a sledgehammer to the history books with a 56-0 win at Purdue on Saturday.
Imagine what the Buckeyes would have done if their offensive mastermind wasn’t fighting to keep his eyes open.
"Adrenaline works wonders," offensive coordinator Tom Herman said with a smile.
Herman, 38, and his wife, Michelle, were scheduled to welcome their third child into the Ohio State family today — a due date that not coincidentally came during the Buckeyes’ bye week.
The second-year OSU assistant is a meticulous planner, from the plays he scripts each fall Saturday to the birth dates of his children. As a coordinator at Rice University in 2007, he and Michelle agreed to speed up the delivery of their son, Maddock, to avoid conflicting with football.
"His due date was August 8 and that was right during two-a-days," Herman said. "So we induced him on July 31."
But their best-laid plans detoured last week when, as Herman said, the couple’s impending arrival "wanted to come out and watch the game." Michelle went into labor on Wednesday, and a healthy boy, Maverick Joseph Herman, was born on Thursday.
"It’s someone who doesn't conform to society, someone who kind of blazes their trail," he said. "I just want to make sure my son has a nice strong name that means something."
And, of course, he added, "It’s one of the top five movie characters of all time." Yes, that’s Tom Cruise from Top Gun.
“Iceman, Goose, Viper, Merlin, none of them really stuck,” Herman said, rattling through Lt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell’s aviator comrades.
Sadly, Herman’s wife nixed his other name suggestions — Thor, Rocky, and Leonidas were all mentioned — though she is one for compromise. Maddock is known as TD, for his middle name, Thomas Danger.
"He can grow up and tell people, ‘Danger is my middle name,’" Herman said. "And when they call him out on it, he’ll pull out his ID and confirm it. We have fun with their names."
Herman counts his newborn as a blessing, even if it comes during an already frenzied time of the season. There is a reason football coaches and their wives often plan for offseason due dates.
“It was not an oops, it was not an accident," Herman said. "We were trying to have another one, but we didn’t realize it would happen so quickly after we made the decision to try. Obviously, that put the due date at a really inopportune time.”
Herman spent Wednesday at the hospital and popped into the football facility on Thursday, only to be shooed away by coach Urban Meyer.
“I had to dock him a day’s pay," Meyer said, laughing. "He actually came in for seven minutes, and I really was going to put a form letter on his desk about him being docked. But I thought it was in the best interest not to."
Herman is never much of a sleeper, his mind always on football. Whenever inspiration for a play or formation strikes, he reaches for his phone, iPad, or paper.
"I text message myself, I email myself, I wake up in the middle of the night and start scribbling some stuff," he said. "It helps you fall back to sleep."
Last week, though, Herman guesses he stole about four hours of sleep between Wednesday and Thursday before rejoining the team Friday for the flight to Purdue. As usual, he directed the Big Ten’s best offense from his press-box perch in the clouds, watching the Buckeyes surpass 50 points for the second straight week — and the eighth time in the past two years. OSU’s rout matched the Boilermakers’ worst loss ever.
Exultant but weary, Herman was ready to switch from coach to dad. Maybe the bye was timed well, after all.
"Hopefully," he said, "my wife will have a little bit of sympathy and let me sleep a couple hours through the night."