Auburn offensive line coach Herb Hand almost never saw his time with the Tigers come to fruition.
He has previously held the same position at Penn State and Vanderbilt. He was an assistant at Tulsa before that, but it was during his time as West Virginia tight ends coach when his life almost came to an end.
A new story from AL.com details the incident and aftermath of the week when he almost died of a brain hemorrhage:
Hand was in line for the breakfast buffet at his hotel when he felt a sneeze coming, and as people do, held it in.
Almost instantly, he knew something was wrong.
“Started feeling like, they call it a ‘thunderclap headache,’ is what people describe it as,” Hand said. “But it felt like someone put an axe in my head.”
What followed was emotional phone calls to his wife and three children, then 10, 8 and 4 years old, who were at home in West Virginia as paramedics took Hand to the hospital, where it was determined he was suffering a subarachnoid hemorrhage and would likely need brain surgery to stop the bleeding for what doctors believed was a ruptured aneurysm.
Hand described what it felt like while he was in pain after the incident and what it was like to tell his children that he loved them even though he didn’t know what was going on at the time.
“At first you just have an unbelievable pressure and pain in your head,” Herb Hand said. “Very sensitive to light, if I touched my eye balls it would feel like someone was taking two mallets and sticking it in the back of my head. Eventually it moves down your spinal column but the blood is moving down your spinal column, it lights up every nerve so at first you can’t bend your neck down, then the top of your neck is just locked up and it goes all the way down to where it winds up feeling like you have a severely bruised tailbone and then it goes away.”
Just a week removed from cheating death or the possibility of severe brain damage, Herb Hand was back home and went to the office for work on May 2 while avoiding taking the prescribed painkillers out of fear he’d become addicted.
Some familiar faces also show up in the story. Rich Rodriguez’s (now head coach at Arizona who was then head coach at West Virginia) wife was very supportive of Hand’s wife during the ordeal as was Butch Jones (then the WVU wide receivers coach and now head coach at Tennessee).
The whole piece is certainly worth your time. Hand and the Tigers will look to extend their five-game winning streak at home this Saturday against Vanderbilt.