Here’s a stunner.
The past several days, all the signs seemingly had been pointing to Lane Kiffin as the replacement for Tom Herman at Houston. Instead of the Alabama offensive coordinator, however, the football program shocked some by staying in-house.
Friday morning, athletic director Hunter Yurachek announced that UH offensive coordinator Major Applewhite has been named as his new head football coach. This will be Applewhite’s first head-coaching job at any level.
One thing Yurachek noted was Applewhite’s deep ties to the state of Texas, something that Kiffin lacks.
“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,” said Yurachek 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 has been UH’s coordinator the past two seasons. Prior to that, nine of his first 11 seasons as a coach were spent in the state of Texas, including two separate stints at the University of Texas.
From 1998-2001, Applewhite was a quarterback for the Longhorns.
“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,” said Applewhite. “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.
“Living in the best state for high school football is a true blessing and advantage for our program and I cannot be more thankful for the support of our outstanding high school coaches from throughout the state.”
UH defensive coordinator Todd Orlando, who interviewed for the position as well, had been named as the Cougars interim head coach. Applewhite, however, will coach the team in the Las Vegas Bowl, with Orlando staying on to coordinate the defense. Whether Orlando will remain on after that remains to be seen, although retaining the coordinator will be a priority for the first-time head coach.
Orlando, however, could follow Herman to Texas when it’s all said and done.