By Cody Stoots

HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) – The Houston Cougars are looking for a new head football coach after the departure of Tom Herman to coach the Texas Longhorns. These are the nine candidates for the job as I see them.

Todd Orlando aka The Promoted Coordinator

The team’s interim head coach and defensive coordinator under Herman. He has never been a head coach but his experience around the program would help in keeping the current operating procedure in place. This team was great on defense at different points this season but can Orlando keep the offense, and top-level recruiting, at a satisfying and winning level? To me, this is an uninspiring hire that should be a backup plan.

Major Applewhite aka The Other Promoted Coordinator

The team’s current offensive coordinator. Likely not heading to Texas with Herman for various reasons, and honestly a pretty uninspiring choice to be a head coach. Although he has a tremendous amount of experience being in this region he hasn’t proven anything to make you confident he could run a program as a head coach. He’s shared offensive duties recently with another coach (BryanHarsin at Texas and Herman at Houston). He would likely be a better hire as the team’s offensive mind should Orlando get the head job.

Mike Leach aka The Wildcard

The first thing you will ask is “why?” and I will answer with these two things. Money and Mike Leach is a unique individual that doesn’t fit in your little box. This would be an absolute HOME RUN hire. You would have to pry Leach away from a successful season at Washington State with more money, he makes $3 million now, and the pitch would have to catch him just right. The other aspects of the pitch is comfort back in Texas where he has recruited before, a chance to finish his football coaching career at Houston, and a secretly nice perk, a chance to face and beat Texas Tech who unceremoniously fired him prior to Washington State.

Dana Holgorsen aka The Guy Looking to Leave

He wants out of West Virginia but he isn’t taking a pay cut either. He turned down an extension but he currently makes $3 million dollars. As much as this would be an amazing get his name would pop up on almost any vacancy, including Oregon, and UH just lost to the resources and prestige of Texas, Oregon wouldn’t have any problem beating the Cougars best deals. The prior connection to Houston is the only reason he made this list.

Les Miles aka The Unemployed Dude

He’s not going to be unemployed long but he will be highly sought after. Miles strikes me as the type of guy who would take a lesser job in a Power 5 conference over being at the best Group of 5 schools in Houston. If he was interested in Houston there is an offensive overhaul in store, Miles doesn’t exactly nail the spread very well, but the defense and recruiting won’t drop off. He isn’t sticking around at his next job though so the first big opportunity sees Miles hit the door.

Philip Montgomery aka The Group of Five Guy

This is such an uninspiring and boring hire but his name has been floated quite a bit. Tulsa blows the doors off defenses checking in as the 12th most impressive offense in points per game. He has spent time in Texas both recruiting and coaching having had stops at Baylor and Houston. I just don’t see how this is sold to the fan base. It is a hire a mid or low-level Power 5 team makes, not the best Group of 5. Another year later and I would maybe be interested but right now it’s a pass.

Lincoln Riley aka The Successful OC

The next Tom Herman potentially. He is from this state, played QB at Texas Tech before transitioning into a member of Mike Leach’s staff. Headed to East Carolina with former Texas Tech DC Ruffin McNeal where he ochrestrated a high-powered passing attack. Ended up on Bob Stoops’ Oklahoma staff where he coordinated the 7th best offense in football last year. Oh, by the way, OU might be better than last year’s offense this season. They’re scary good. The recruiting and putting a staff together would worry me a little with Riley. He’s only 33 and could use some seasoning but the young gun could come out firing at Houston.

One of the TCU OC’s aka The Kinda Successful OC

Sonny Cumbie and Doug Meacham are their names. Neither seems like a home run, more like a double with the chance to steal third. Both have extensive coaching experience in this state and both have had a hand in making TCU’s offense an impressive one despite lacking top-level offensive talent. They have coached and improved quarterbacks in their time there but nothing amazing other guys haven’t done. Both are perhaps better suited down the road for Houston, right now they are backup plans to the backup plan.

Art Briles aka Good Coach, Public Relations Nightmare

Nope. No. No thanks. Hard pass. Let someone else deal with this.

If I had to hire these guys my list would be Leach, Riley, and then Orlando. The safest hire is Orlando. The riskiest hire is Riley.

Follow Stoots on Twitter – @Cody_Stoots


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