Houston promotes OC Major Applewhite to head coach

By The Sports Xchange  |  Dec. 9, 2016 at 12:53 PM
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The Houston Cougars decided to promote offensive coordinator Major Applewhite to succeed Tom Herman as head coach, the school announced Friday.

The 38-year-old Applewhite received a five-year contract, according to reports.

Houston was expected to hire Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, who interviewed on Sunday after the top-ranked Crimson Tide beat Florida for the SEC title.

"When we set out on our search for the new leader of our football program, we wanted a coach with great integrity who believed in our mission and truly believed in our student-athlete experience," athletic director Hunter Yurachek said in a statement. "We had our sights set on a focused competitor who has demonstrated success and possesses a deep connection to college and high school football in the great state of Texas.

"As this process was completed, it was clearly evident the only individual to offer our position to was Major Applewhite and he was indeed the right man to lead our program."

Applewhite will take over the job immediately and coach the Cougars against San Diego State in the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 17.

"My family and I are excited and honored to have the opportunity to lead such a tradition rich program and continue our lives in one of the greatest cities is the nation, a city we love," Applewhite said. "The student-athletes truly are the backbone of every great program and as they've demonstrated over the past few years, we have an exceptional group of young men in our program, and we'll continue to add men with great character and a competitive drive in our recruiting."

Herman left Houston after two seasons to become the coach at Texas on Nov. 26. The Cougars were 22-4 under Herman.

This will be the first head-coaching job for Applewhite, a quarterback at the University of Texas. He has been an offensive coordinator at Rice (2006), Alabama (2007) and seven seasons as an assistant, including four years as co-offensive coordinator, at Texas.

Applewhite joined Houston in 2015 and combined with Herman to lead one of the nation's best offenses. The Cougars ranked 15th nationally in passing offense (301.9 yards per game) and 21st in scoring (38 points per game) this season.

Houston defensive coordinator Todd Orlando, former LSU coach Les Miles and Oklahoma offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley also were candidates for the job.

Orlando, who has been serving as the interim coach since Herman accepted the Texas job, will remain as defensive coordinator in the bowl game.

"It's no coincidence that the success UH football has achieved over the past two seasons happened with Major Applewhite running our offense," Houston president Renu Khator said in a statement. "His energy and creativity are responsible for one of the most explosive passing games in college football and I am confident that as our head coach he will continue our upward trajectory as a nationally relevant athletics program."

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