But those who have coached and played with him expect Herrington to succeed, perhaps not with flamboyance or panache, but the victories will come. He fits the mold of the classic overachiever. Always the first to arrive and last to leave, he outlasts his task, making up in determination what he lacks in inspiration.
"It may take him a little longer to go through a game film or put a lesson plan together, but Mike always completes his tasks," Scott said. "In every program, there's a beast of burden. Every time there's a new task, you dump it on him and he plods along until it's done. That was Mike."
Sweet, the former Hart coach who left for El Dorado where he now serves as athletic director, often worked on game plans at his house with Herrington at his side. But he warns that Herrington's hunger for work may undermine his effort.
"I think it will be critical for him and his staff not to move too fast," he said. "They've got to show patience and play for the whole season, not just the first few games. But Mike knows what he has to do. He's the type of person that if it takes 25 hours to do a job, he'll put the time in.
"He was there all the time at Hart. Sundays, the summer, he was always there."
Despite that workload, Herrington always has time for his players. During the season, the Herrington household is a meeting place for players, some of whom frequently attended sporting events with Mike in the off-season. Bonds formed quickly and lasted after players moved on. One of those bonds is named Jim, UCLA's sophomore quarterback who led Hart to a Southern Section championship in 1986. His friendship with the Herringtons started when he was a water boy for the Hart team as a seventh-grader.
"They're great guys and taught me a lot about football," Jim Bonds said. "Dean taught me my quick release and the fundamentals of being a quarterback. I think Mike will do a great job."
Agreement with that assessment comes from another Bruin, Brian Jacobs, an All-Southern Section tackle at Hart in 1986 and '87.
"I just respected him for the world," Jacobs said. "I thought he knew everything when I was at Hart. When I went to college, it turned out he was right."
Jacobs has maintained his friendship with Herrington and he spent time observing him last fall in Bellflower in Herrington's first role as head coach. The coaching was no different from the days at Hart but the players were.
Hart draws from a relatively affluent community where the good life is taken for granted. When Herrington ran Hart's summer passing-league games, the Hart players would meet on campus and caravan in their own cars to away games. When he called for a similar setup at Bellflower, the caravan consisted of just two cars.
"The kids just didn't have the cars like they did at Hart," Herrington said.
He adjusted his approach to discipline based on his players' needs. Many came from broken families and two of his players lived on their own and sandwiched practice and school around jobs.
"If you want to see something incredible you should see what he did with that team," Jacobs said. "He took guys who were just off the streets and cleaned them up and taught them discipline. I'm not sure how he did it, but just what he could do there makes you know he's a good coach."
Herrington would have preferred to skip that audition, claiming he was prepared for the job a year ago. But he refuses to dwell on the hurdles he's cleared to get the job he's sought for nearly 10 years. Instead, he points to the role he's played in helping Hart become one of the Valley-area's top programs.
"I feel like I was a main cog in Hart's transformation from an average team," he said. "But those teams were all under somebody else's name. Fortunately, now it's my turn."