Nov. 7, 2013
By Jerome Boettcher | Subscribe to Commodore Nation
When Herb Hand isn’t mentoring Vanderbilt’s big men, he’s cooking with a big appetite— either sticking by the grill or impressing dinner guests with crab-stuffed filet mignon topped with a Bearnaise sauce and sauteed asparagus. The fourth-year football coach is also a staple on Twitter and shares the Hand household with his wife and three children.
Have you always been in love with cooking?
I would consider myself a foodie. Maybe being an offensive line coach it comes with the territory. From a very young age, both my parents worked, so my mom, we had chores, all of the kids had chores. One day you had to set the table and the next day you had to do the dishes and the next day you had to take out the trash and the next day you had to help mom cook dinner. That was always my favorite chore because I hated doing dishes. So I made a deal with my wife. My wife is not culinarily inclined. So we made a deal that I would do the cooking and she would do the dishes. That’s worked for 18 years so far. It has been a pretty good deal.
Favorite dish to prepare?
That’s tough. I just love good food in general. If I was going to make something, lately what I’ve done, I really love a very well cooked steak. Not well as in temperature wise but a well-cooked steak. I like it medium rare; anything over that you start ruining it. There is a joke that says 80 percent of men really know how to work the grill and the other 20 percent lie about it. I love working on the grill.
How often do you cook for your line?
The NCAA allows us to provide an occasional meal. Sometimes we’ll go to Monell’s and do that—just kind of all you can eat. That’s actually a little easier on my wallet than actually going to the store and buying stuff. I like having the guys over to my house and hanging out with my family and spending time with my wife and kids. I’m the type of guy when I do cook a meal I like to watch people eat it. So I’ll sit there and go, ‘Hey, how was it? Was that good? Did you like it?’ You can see on their face when they really enjoy something. It just feeds my ego. Like, ‘Yeah, I made that.’ I do enjoy that aspect of it too.
How do you like to spend your free time with your family?
We love to travel. We love going to the beach. We’re beach people. We’ve been to the mountains one time and that was one too many. That’s not our deal. We like to be at sea level. Any time we get sand and sun, that’s our go-to. And I really do enjoy cooking with my kids, spending time in the kitchen with them, trying to pass on some knowledge and also the love of really good food and preparing something for somebody else. It is another way of serving other people also. When you make a great meal for somebody it is an opportunity to serve them and really do something nice for somebody. Any time I get a chance to be around my kids I love spending time with them.
You seem to have a lot of fun on Twitter (@CoachHand) and are popular with nearly 6,000 followers. Have you always been technologically savvy?
I’ve been on Twitter for almost five years. I always tell people I’m Twitter OG—“Original Gangster.” I like Twitter better than Facebook because it’s succinct. You have to keep your thoughts precise and concise. I like that aspect of it. What I’ve tried to do with that is build a personal brand as to who I am as well as represent Vanderbilt, represent Vanderbilt football, the Nashville community and coaches in general. The whole idea of social media is it feeds the narcissist in all of us. You can either use that in a positive way or use that in a negative way. I believe it was (Stanford coach) David Shaw who said that social media should be a commercial as to how great your life is. Nobody wants to hear the negatives. I want to present positive things and keep it that way.
You’re the longest tenured coach at four years on the coaching staff. What does that say about the fit at Vanderbilt?
It has been great. My wife and kids are incredibly happy here. We love Nashville. It is the best place we’ve ever lived and I’m not just saying that because Vanderbilt signs my paycheck. This is a great city and a great place to raise a family.
When you get out of bed in the morning and you really love coming to work—to call it work is almost an insult because it is not really work. We’re blessed to be able to do this every day. It’s awesome. Who has a better life than me? I’ve got a beautiful wife. I’ve got three great kids. I’ve got one of the best jobs in the country working for an awesome head coach and I’ve got great kids to coach.