Words finally became truth at the University of Houston. UH president Renu Khator infamously said that “We’ll fire coaches at 8 and 4., and Houston did just that. After going 7-5 in 2017 and 8-5 in 2018, Houston parted ways with head coach Major Applewhite.
It hasn’t exactly been a secret that Major Applewhite hadn’t met expectations since he took over the Houston program. After a horrendous defensive season that cost them a chance to play for a conference championship, Houston decided to part ways with their head coach. A 70-14 beatdown at the hands of Army certainly expedited the process.
Applewhite finished 15-11 as head coach of Houston (he was interim head coach for one loss), and never seemed to get fans as excited as his predecessor, Tom Herman. His calm demeanor didn’t project confidence in the program, and inconsistent success added to his downfall. It’s not all completely his fault, as his coaching staff didn’t help him out much.
His initial offensive coordinator hire of Brian Johnson was a dud. The offense struggled, and the quarterback play of Kyle Allen and Kyle Postma was inconsistent. Applewhite had to step in to help with playcalling, and inserting D’Eriq King finally helped. Mark D’Onofrio was hired to run the defense, and that was a terrible decision from the beginning. Houston, and this is with Ed Oliver, had one of the worst defenses in the country. D’Onofrio was fired at the end of this season, but the bowl game proved that the issues were deeper than just one coach. Applewhite did make a good hire offensively when he brought in Kendal Briles, but Briles left after the bowl game for Florida State.
Trouble from the start
Houston found itself in need of an offensive and defensive coordinator at the end of the season, and that’s not ideal heading into Applewhite’s third season. The school decided it was better to start over than wait it out. His latest recruiting class also didn’t instill much excitement in the fan base. Fans said multiple times that there hadn’t been much of a buzz surrounding the football program ever since Tom Herman left. That’s a problem when boosters and administration are trying to make the Cougars into a major college football program and possibly join the Big 12.
Who will Houston target next? It appears that the Cougars administration is willing to throw a ton of money at former Houston assistant and current West Virginia Mountaineers head coach Dana Holgorsen. His offensive philosophies would give Houston another Top 10 offense again if he comes south. Stay tuned for more updates with the coaching search.