Was it ever a doubt? In one of the easiest decisions we have ever had to make as a staff, the Houston Cougars have the best football head coaching job in the American Athletic Conference. I would love to hear arguments against Houston in the comments, but can't see how you can argue the combination of every factor that comes into leading a program and not end up in Houston.
With that said, let’s take a look at how Houston stacks up with the rest of the AAC.
- Look at some of the coaches that have come through the program. Jack Pardee, Kevin Sumlin, Art Briles, and possibly the hottest coaching name in football, Tom Herman. Just those four put Houston among elite company.
- The hottest G5 around. Sorry Boise, but the H-Town takeover is now the G5 takeover. Houston is winning NY6 bowls over Florida State, killing it in recruiting, and turning into the one program no P5 wants to meet.
- Houston as a city. Sure the population is among the four highest in the nation and you can think of reasons not to live there, but it is a damn good city that will support a charismatic head coach that wins.
- Want to coach a Heisman winner? You can win it here. Since 1970, players do not win the Heisman Trophy unless they are a P5 program, Notre Dame, or occasionally BYU. Add Houston to the list. Andre Ware won the trophy in 1989 and the program has enough national recognition that the right player could win it again.
- A solid athletics budget. The athletics budget is nothing special, but it aligns with the top of the AAC and allows for Houston to stay at the top.
- An impressive stadium. TDECU Stadium is an on campus and state of the art stadium that is virtually brand new.
- Expectations are sky high. After Briles and Sumlin made Houston a household name again, Tony Levine was not bad in his time with the program, but 8-5 and 7-5 seasons were not enough. Winning at a high level is mandatory.
Making the case for why Houston should be higher: Chris Wimmer, Houston writer for UDD.
P.T. Barnum said, "Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd."
Actually, it might not have been Barnum, but most people attribute the quote to him and probably for good reason.
The point is, there has been a crowd gathered around the UH football program for almost 15 years now. Art Briles began the resurrection in 2003 and pulled the program out of a 10-year spiral where it finished 32-79 overall. He snapped a six-year bowl drought.
Then Kevin Sumlin pushed it higher. He led the Cougars to their first one-loss season in 20 years in 2011 before departing for Texas A&M.
Hell, Tony Levine finished 8-5 in the two seasons before Tom Herman stormed the Bastille and lit the G5 world on fire last year.
The equation is easy: A successful program attracts the top coaching talent. The coaches (theoretically) continue that success and the cycle stays intact. The job stays a hot commodity because a lineage of coaches proved they could win there, despite the school’s size relative to the P5 programs in the state.
And what is the No. 1 ingredient in a coach’s recipe for success? TALENT. Tons of it.
Houston is one of the two major hubs in arguably the most fertile recruiting ground in the nation. It is the only school with any tradition of success in East Texas (Texas A&M is a tweener; I’d call it east-central). Not only does it have an immense talent pool to draw from within its own city limits and surrounding suburbs, but it’s no more than 6 hours by car from any city in another pond stocked with talent: Louisiana.
A 6-hour radius from Houston includes: Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio and New Orleans.
So, the list now includes Recent Success and Recruiting. Here’s the icing on the cake: a nearly brand new stadium. TDECU Stadium will celebrate its third anniversary on August 29 and the shiny venue is right on campus.
Lastly, if the team needs a stadium that holds more than 40,000 people — say, for instance, if it’s playing in a massive opening-weekend game against one of the traditional powerhouses in college football — it just travels seven miles across town to NRG Stadium, the home of the Houston Texans.
If you were playing NCAA football in an online dynasty...
You have an incredibly fun team to control with amazing athletes all over the field. The offense is exciting and the defense is constantly stocked with NFL level talent. If you do not score 40 or more points per game in a dynasty mode, maybe the game is not for you.
You also have a stadium that looks pretty impressive on the game and will look even better when you win a national championship or two.
If you choose this job in real life...
You want to win lots of games and recruit at a top 30-50 level with an incredible array of talent at your doorstep. You know that winning at Houston earns you a job at one of the elite programs in the country when it is open.
You have to also be charismatic and willing to earn the trust of the city. Imagine a dull coach leading Houston last fall and much of the allure from the magical 2015 season disappears.
Sure, we could have gone contrarian and went with a Florida school, but this is the elite job in all of the G5. Everything is in place for this job to be a successful experience for many coaches down the line. From location to an administration willing to get things done, this is a great position. I am of the belief that no P5 program can truly be a final destination, but coaching Houston is just about as close as you can get to a true dream job.
The list so far: