Update: Houston confirms Levine hiring as Sumlin’s replacement


UPDATED 9:26 p.m. ET: In a press release, Houston has confirmed the hiring of interim head coach Tony Levine as its permanent head coach.

“I’m so pleased to be able to announce Tony Levine as our new head coach,” UH athletic director Mack Rhoades said in a statement. “Before we began this process we talked about the characteristics we wanted in the leader of our football program and Tony embodies each of those qualities. We spoke with former players, current student-athletes and interviewed some of the top football coaches in the country, and all of our talks led us right back to Tony.

“We consistently talk about building a program and building upon our culture here at UH and when you have the perfect fit right here on staff, you feel fortunate. But we still wanted to do our due diligence. We talked to some great folks, some people that are already outstanding Division I head coaches, but the best fit for UH is Tony Levine.”

“I’m both humbled and excited to have this opportunity to lead the Houston Football program and continue my work with our student-athletes and staff,” Levine said. “This is a dream come true for me and my family. We love Houston and I’m proud to say that Houston is our home. When you have the opportunity to lead a program, it has to be more than a job. Houston is a destination spot. Continuing to build this program is a personal challenge because this placemeans so much to us. We have new facilities on the horizon, we are heading into an AQ (Automatic Qualifying) conference, we have the vision and leadership of Mack Rhoades and President Khator and we have the best fans and student support in America. That’s why Houston is so special.”

An 11 a.m. ET press conference will be held Thursday to officially introduce Levine.


For just the second time since head-coaching jobs began opening up earlier this year — Toledo and Matt Campbell being the other — a school has stayed in-house to find its replacement.

As first reported by Sam Khan Jr. of the Houston Chronicle, and subsequently confirmed by CBS Sports.com‘s Bruce Feldman, Houston has hired special teams coordinator/assistant head coach Tony Levine as its new head coach.  Khan reports that the Cougar players were informed of the school’s decision at a team meeting Wednesday evening.

Levine, the 39-year-old assistant who has been serving as UH’s interim head coach during bowl preparations, will replace Kevin Sumlin, who left for the Texas A&M job earlier this month.

The formal announcement from the school is expected on Thursday.

Levine was hired by Sumlin in 2008.  Prior to that, Levine served as an assistant during stops at, among others, Louisville and Auburn at the collegiate level, as well as a two-year stint as a special teams coach with the Carolina Panthers.

FAU QB dismissed by Oklahoma ‘actually thanked’ Lane Kiffin for suspension that lasted two days

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That certainly didn’t last long.

Tuesday, after the first day of spring practice, Lane Kiffin revealed that Chris Robison had been indefinitely suspended from the Florida Atlantic football program for unspecified violations of team rules; one report had the suspension connected to skipping a mandatory tutoring session. At the time, the second-year head coach indicated that the suspension was day-to-day and could be lifted at any time.

As it turns out, Thursday was that time as the quarterback returned to the practice field with the rest of his FAU teammates.

“He came in [Wednesday] and actually thanked me for it,” Kiffin said according to the Sun-Sentinel. “He said it really kind of embarrassed him nationally and humbled him that things could kind of be taken away. It was good to see.”

A four-star member of Oklahoma’s 2017 recruiting class, Robison was arrested in April of that year for public intoxication; four months later, OU announced that Robison had been dismissed from the football program.  In August of last year, Robison announced his decision to transfer to FAU and ended up taking a redshirt for the 2017 season.

Robison and De’Andre Johnson are expected to compete for the starting job vacated by Jason Driskel, who announced earlier this offseason that he was retiring from the sport.  Johnson missed most of the 2017 season after blood clots were discovered in one of his arms.

Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa (thumb) returns to practice

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In the end, it appears to be much ado about (mostly) nothing.

Tuesday, after the reigning national champions had put the finishing touches on its first practice of the spring, Nick Saban confirmed that quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had suffered an unspecified injury to the thumb on his left (throwing) hand. It was expected that the quarterback would travel to Birmingham for further evaluation of the injury.

Wednesday, it was reported that the injury was believed to be just a sprain and that Tagovailoa could return to practice soon. That report proved prophetic as Tagovailoa was indeed back at practice Thursday, albeit on a limited basis.

From al.com:

The quarterback was not doing the normal drills with his teammates but was off to the side working with head athletic trainer Jeff Allen. It looked like they were testing Tagovailoa’s ability to grip the football since the injury was suffered on his throwing hand. He replicated a few play-action roll outs with the ball in his left hand. At one point, he rolled over toward where Jalen Hurts was standing and they high fived.

Until Tagovailoa is fully recovered, Jalen Hurts will take the majority of the reps as the Crimson Tide continues its march through their 15 spring practice sessions.

The rising true junior Hurts, who has started every game but one the past two seasons, and the rising true sophomore Tagovailoa, the national championship game hero who replaced Hurts at halftime of the overtime win, are entrenched in a competition for the starting job that, barring a post-spring transfer, is expected to extend into summer camp. That said, most observers outside of the UA football program fully expect Tagovailoa, because of his proficiency in the passing game relative to Hurts, to earn the job at some point before the Tide opens the defense of their title against Louisville in Orlando Sept. 1.

USC graduate transfer Jalen Greene heads east to play at Illinois in 2018

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Greene is turning orange. Well, Jalen Greene is at least.

The former USC wide receiver who announced he would pursue a graduate transfer earlier this month announced on Twitter that he would be heading East to play at Illinois in 2018. He will be immediately eligible to play for the Illini.

Greene was originally recruited by the Trojans as a dual-threat quarterback but eventually made the move to receiver. He caught eight passes for 98 yards at USC last season as a partial starter and added another eight receptions for 116 yards the year prior.

Illinois has already begun spring practice and has been trying several new players at wide receiver in the process to find a good complement to Mike Dudek on the outside. It seems Greene could find himself in the mix to be one of those guys when he arrives in Champaign.

Josh Heupel keeping most of Scott Frost’s playbook at UCF as spring practice begins

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There are a ton of interesting storylines as spring practice begins across the country but one of the most intriguing programs to watch might be in Orlando as UCF looks to simultaneously follow up an undefeated season while also transitioning to a new coaching staff.

ESPN’s Andrea Adelson wrote a good story on the Knights changing some things up under head coach Josh Heupel the past few months like eating with players during meals, new strength and conditioning regiments and the usual offseason stuff you typically wind up season. However there was one interesting nugget about the team’s playbook that the coach relayed:

In other areas, player input has kept a few things unchanged. Take the offensive playbook, for example. Heupel and (Scott) Frost share enough offensive concepts that the new staff has adopted the terminology that players already know on the plays they have in common. So in theory, that should allow the offense to hit spring practice, which started Tuesday, with much more familiarity than another program that has completely changed over its staff.

As they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. In Heupel’s first head coaching gig, it seems he’s taking that to heart.