Houston fires coach Major Applewhite after just two seasons with the Cougars
The Cougars fell 70-14 to Army in Applewhite's last game
Houston has parted ways with coach Major Applewhite, the school announced on Sunday. Applewhite was 15-11 in his two-plus seasons with the program, and lost the Armed Forces Bowl to Army 70-14 earlier this month.
"We'd like to thank Coach Applewhite and his family for their commitment to the success of the Houston Football program over the last four seasons including the last two as our head coach," said athletic director Chris Pezman. "After a thorough evaluation of our football program, it is my assessment our future opportunities for success are better addressed by making this very difficult decision now."
Applewhite has only been at Houston for two seasons, replacing Tom Herman who left to take the job at Texas. After going 7-5 in his first season with the Cougars, Applewhite's team went 8-5 this season. Houston president Renu Khator joked prior to Applewhite beginning what would be a short tenure with the Cougars that "We'll fire coaches at 8 and 4."
Despite the relatively quick turnover at coach, though, Pezman remains optimistic about the future as the Cougars begin their search for a new head man to lead the program.
"While the immediate future may be challenging, our future at UH is very bright," Pezman said. "We've made many sizable improvements over the past five years, and I look forward to enhancing our future success through the hiring of our next head coach. At this time we have already begun the search process for our next head coach and will not comment further until the search is concluded."
Applewhite ran into a coaching snafu this season when he and star defensive tackle Ed Oliver engaged in a heated in-game argument over Oliver wearing a school-issued jacket during a game against Tulane in which Oliver wasn't playing due to a lingering knee injury. Oliver was seen yelling at Applewhite as teams headed into the locker room for halftime and did not rejoin the team in the second half.
He took over the program on an interim basis in 2016 after Herman left for Texas, and lost the Las Vegas Bowl to San Diego State. After a promising season-opening win over Arizona to open the 2017 season, the Cougars sputtered to a 5-3 conference record including a 45-17 loss to lowly Tulsa -- which finished 2-10. The 2018 Cougars showed similar promise early with a 45-18 win over Arizona in Week 2, but lost four of their last five games including the blowout bowl loss to Army.
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