The good news is that head coach Kevin Sumlin, who led the Coogs to their first appearance in the Top 25 since the early 1990s last season, signed a contract extension on Friday. The extension puts talks of Sumlin leaving for greener pastures to rest—at least for now. The second-year head coach was rumored to be a candidate for virtually every major head-coaching vacancy in the NCAA following the 2009 season, and if he continues his success at Houston, the rumors will continue. At least for another season, though, fans of UH can rest easy knowing Sumlin is theirs.
The bad news is that Sumlin will be a busy man in coming weeks. After a season in which the Cougars went 10-4, he faces the tough task of replacing both his offensive and defensive coordinators.
Departing OC Dana Holgorsen has received much credit for Houston’s offensive achievements during his two years on the job. In 2009, the Cougars led the nation in points (42.1) and yards per game (563.4). Those eye-popping numbers caught the attention of Mike Gundy and Oklahoma State University, who fell to the Coogs 45-35 in September. The Cowboys lured Holgorsen away by doubling his salary and offering the chance to test his schemes against the Big 12 full-time.
"These opportunities don't come around very often and when they do you better jump on them," Holgorsen told Fox 26’s Mark Berman on Saturday. "That's just the way the business is."
Outgoing Houston defensive coordinator John Skladany experienced the other side of the coaching business two weeks ago. He was dismissed by Sumlin after a string of poor defensive performances sank the Cougars’ season. The head coach has already interviewed several candidates for the DC job, including former Marshall head coach Mark Snyder, former Texas Tech defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill, and Pittsburgh Steelers defensive backs coach Ray Horton. Once Sumlin makes that hire, he’ll have to begin talking to applicants looking to replicate Holgerson’s career path.
It wasn’t all departures for the Coogs this weekend, however. UH got a big commit from Matangi Tonga, a 6-foot-3, 280-pound defensive lineman from the College of San Mateo, Calif. Tonga only has one year of eligibility remaining, but he will help shore up a Houston line in 2010 that was wracked by injuries and inexperience last season. Tonga also had offers from Iowa State, UTEP, and New Mexico State.
Of course, the Cougars most crucial player, quarterback Case Keenum, will be the biggest returning piece in 2010. Keenum announced Wednesday that he would forgo the NFL draft. Whoever Sumlin tabs to replace Holgorsen will have the nation’s leading offense returning nearly intact to play with next season.