Tony Levine

FBS head coaching carousel comes to a full and complete stop

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It all got started before mid-September and lasted until the beginning of February. This past season’s edition of the coaching carousel went on a tad longer than perhaps anyone could have imagined, but with Central Michigan officially introducing John Bonamego as its new head coach today, we now have closed the book on head coaching changes among major college football programs.

Hopefully, at least.

In all we saw 15 head coaching changes at the FBS level, including seven from power conferences. Three of those power conference coaching changes came in the Big Ten, with Michigan and Nebraska each turning a page with their respective programs and Wisconsin having to react to losing a coach to the Pac-12.

Ready for a quick trip down memory lane? Here is a walk-through of the timeline of events regarding this now completed coaching carousel.

Coaching Carousel Timeline

  • September 8, 2014 – SMU head coach June Jones announces his resignation from the head coaching position. SMU names defensive coordinator Tom Mason interim head coach for the remainder of 2014 season.
  • September 28, 2014 – Kansas head coach Charlie Weis relieved of his duties. Kansas names defensive coordinator Clint Bowen interim head coach.
  • October 5, 2014 – Troy head coach Larry Blakeney announces he will resign at end of 2014 season.
  • October 13, 2014 – Buffalo relieves Jeff Quinn of his duties. Buffalo names Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach Alex Wood interim head coach.
  • November 16, 2014 – Florida announces Will Muschamp will be dismissed at the end of the regular season.
  • November 28, 2014 – UNLV head coach Bobby Hauck resigns from position.
  • November 30, 2014 – Nebraska fires Bo Pelini, effective immediately. Running game coordinator Barney Cotton named interim coach for bowl game.
  • November 30, 2014 – Troy announces Kentucky offensive coordinator Neal Brown will be new head coach.
  • November 30, 2014 – SMU announces it will hire Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris to be new head coach.
  • November 30, 2014 – Buffalo hires Wisconsin-Whitewater head coach Lance Leipold to be new head coach.
  • December 1, 2014 – Tulsa fires head coach Bill Blankenship.
  • December 2, 2014 – Michigan fires head coach Brady Hoke.
  • December 4, 2014 – Florida hires Colorado State head coach Jim McElwain to be new head coach.
  • December 4, 2014 – Nebraska hires Oregon State head coach Mike Riley to be new head coach.
  • December 5, 2014 – Kansas hires Texas A&M wide receivers coach David Beaty to be new head coach.
  • December 8, 2014 – Houston relieves head coach Tony Levine of duties.
  • December 8, 2014 – UNLV reportedly set to hire Bishop Gorman High School (NV) head coach Tony Sanchez as new head coach.
  • December 10, 2014 – Oregon State hires Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen to be new head coach.
  • December 11, 2014 – Tulsa hires Baylor offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery to be new head coach.
  • December 12, 2014 – Wisconsin hires Pittsburgh head coach Paul Chryst to be new head coach.
  • December 15, 2014 – Houston hires Ohio State offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Tom Herman to be new head coach.
  • December 22, 2014 – Colorado State hires Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo to be new head coach.
  • December 26, 2014 – Pittsburgh hires Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi to be new head coach.
  • December 29, 2014 – Michigan hires former San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh to be new head coach.
  • January 22, 2015 – Central Michigan head coach Dan Enos leaves job to accept position as Arkansas offensive coordinator.
  • February 8, 2015 – Central Michigan hires Detroit Lions special teams coordinator John Bonamego as new head coach.

Report: Houston to name Buckeyes QB whisperer Tom Herman head coach

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Ohio State quarterbacks coach Tom Herman will be the next head coach at Houston, according to a report Monday morning. Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports was the first to report the news of the Houston coaching hire, via Twitter.

Herman got his coaching career started in the state of texas as a wide receivers coach at Texas Lutheran University, After one year he accepted a position on the coaching staff at Texas as a graduate assistant. He then made stops at Sam Houston State, Texas State and Rice before three seasons with Iowa State and the past three years at Ohio State as an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Herman was named this year’s Broyles Award winner, recognizing him as the nation’s top assistant coach.

Herman became a very hot name in the rising coaching carousel this season after molding J.T. Barrett into a potential Heisman candidate as Ohio State made its push for the College Football Playoff. Herman’s best work may have come with preparing Cardale Jones to lead the Buckeyes offense in the Big Ten championship game after a Barrett went down with an injury the previous week against Michigan.

Herman will take over a Houston program coming off a 7-5 regular season. He replaces Tony Levine, who had coached the Cougars for three seasons after Kevin Sumlin took over at Texas A&M. The Cougars are coming off two straight winning seasons as a member of the American Athletic Conference, going 15-10 in the past two years before this season’s bowl game. Houston’s decision to move on from Levine was somewhat of a surprise, but Herman will be given a chance to make Houston a true contender in the AAC rather quickly. What he does with John O’Korn will be one thing to keep a close eye on.

Houston raises bar for program with removal of Tony Levine

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After initial reports surfaced Sunday about Houston ready to move in a new direction with its football program, the university made the coaching change official Monday morning. Tony Levine has been relieved of his coaching duties at Houston, sending the school to start on a national coaching search for a replacement.

“Coach Levine and I met several times throughout the season, and again late last night, to discuss the state of the program. Last night I informed him we will be moving in a different direction with our football program,” said Houston athletics director Mack Rhoades said in a statement released by the school Monday morning. “Coach Levine is an outstanding leader and over the last three years he has demonstrated great commitment to our student-athletes and has been an outstanding role model for our young men. He has left the program in a better situation than it was when he inherited it.

“Although we are excited to play in our second straight bowl game, the expectations of our program have changed over the last five years with the opening of TDECU Stadium and the current college football landscape,” Rhoades said. “At this time we will begin the search process for the 14th head coach in Houston Football history and will not comment further until the search is concluded.”

Levine took over the coaching job at Houston after Kevin Sumlin accepted a job offer at Texas A&M. Levine coached Houston to a TicketCity Bowl victory over Penn State at the end of the 2011 season, but the best days of the Houston program may have left town with Sumlin. Houston went 5-7 in its final season in Conference USA and went a combined 15-10 in its first two seasons in the American Athletic Conference. It seems odd to make a coaching change now for Houston, but this is a clear sign the expectations at Houston have been elevated.

What is the ceiling for Houston? Competing for the American Athletic Conference is certainly an attainable task for the program. With an AAC title will come a shot at playing in one of the College Football Playoff bowl games. This season that spot went to Boise State, but the AAC looks to be a conference capable of sending a team to the big money bowls with some regularity. There is little reason to expect Houston not to be in that mix.

It is also interesting to note SMU is also making a coaching change this offseason. Was this a reaction to SMU’s coaching change? Probably not, but the timing is interesting.

Houston surprises kicker and his mom with full scholarship

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Houston head coach Tony Levine informed kicker Kyle Bullard he is being put on a full scholarship immediately. Bullard is a junior who has worked hard to be a contributor to the Houston football team, and the awarding of a scholarship for a kicker generally gets overshadowed. Fortunately, Houston’s athletics department decided to set some hidden cameras around Levine’s office so fans could be given an inside look on what can be a truly special moment for a college football player, and in this case that player’s family.

Levine asked Bullard to bring his mother in for a meeting to address the school’s scholarship situation, suggesting to both he wants to be open and honest about the state of the program and where Bullard fits in. Levine put all the facts on the table and suggested Bullard was on track to be getting a scholarship when he informed him the scholarship was already being awarded to the junior. The reaction of Bullard and his mother is a reminder of one of the great parts of being a hard-working student athlete in college football.

Bullard appeared in eight games for the Cougars last season and took over the starting kicking role midway through the year. He successfully converted six out of six field goal attempts and 20 out of 20 extra point attempts.

Photo credit: Houston Athletics

Saban, Meyer, Briles and others among Paul Bear Bryant Coach of the Year candidates

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We are starting to get down to the nitty-gritty for college football, and that means one thing; postseason awards season is just around the corner! OK, so it means a few things, but the awards are starting to trim down their preseason watch lists to finalists and semifinalists as the college football season starts to wind down.

The Paul Bear Bryant Coach of the Year Award Watch List was released Friday evening. The list includes 20 coaches and includes coaches who have been in charge of dominant programs and some who have turned things around at heir respective programs. Alabama’s Nick Saban and Ohio State’s Urban Meyer are included on the list. So is Kliff Kingsbury at Texas Tech and Gary Pinkel at Missouri.

here is the complete list of candidates for the award, which will be presented January 15, 2014 in Houston. A list of finalists will be announced in early December. The Paul Bear Bryant Coach of the Year Award is the only coaching award voted on and presented at the conclusion of the bowl season. All other coaching awards are presented in December.

Paul Bear Bryant Coach of the Year Watch List

  • David Bailiff – Rice
  • Art Briles – Baylor
  • Rod Carey – Northern Illinois
  • Tim DeRuyter – Fresno State
  • Jimbo Fisher – Florida State
  • Al Golden – Miami (Fla.)
  • Mark Helfrich – Oregon
  • Brady Hoke – Michigan
  • Kliff Kingsbury – Texas Tech
  • Pete Lembo – Ball State
  • Tony Levine – Houston
  • Gus Malzahn – Auburn
  • Urban Meyer – Ohio State
  • Les Miles – LSU
  • George O’Leary – UCF
  • Gary Pinkel – Missouri
  • Nick Saban – Alabama
  • David Shaw – Stanford
  • Bob Stoops – Oklahoma
  • Kevin Sumlin – Texas A&M