Multiple sources confirm to SB Nation’s Steven Godfrey that Houston is promoting offensive coordinator Major Applewhite as its new head coach.
Applewhite was a record-setting Texas QB from 1998 to 2001, joining the Longhorns as a graduate assistant two years later and becoming an assistant at Syracuse, Rice, and Alabama before rejoining the Horns as Mack Brown’s eventual co-OC.
He spent 2015 and 2016 at Houston, where his offense contributed to a 2015 Peach Bowl victory and a 5-0 record against power-conference opponents. In 2015, Houston ranked No. 29 in the country in opponent-adjusted Offensive S&P+. Applewhite will likely have former five-star Texas A&M QB Kyle Allen to run his offense going forward.
Alabama OC Lane Kiffin was a finalist for the job, but Houston officials had serious concerns about Kiffin's transition timeline with Alabama in the Playoff, as well as breaking continuity with the current staff's relationship with recruits and current players.
New Houston coach Major Applewhite assumes his position immediately. He'll lead the Cougars in the Las Vegas Bowl vs. San Diego St.— Sam Khan Jr. (@skhanjr) December 9, 2016
It seemed unlikely that Applewhite would return to his alma mater to accompany Herman. There is the matter of an affair Applewhite admitted to with a student while he was at Texas as an assistant. His involvement in a subsequent lawsuit prevents him from returning to Austin.
Multiple sources indicated that Applewhite’s name appearing in a 2013 lawsuit against the school — which is back in the news in 2016 — would preclude him from again coaching at Texas.
Earlier this year, a state appeals court ruled that former track coach Bev Kearney’s lawsuit against UT could proceed. It alleges that Kearney was unfairly terminated following an inappropriate relationship years earlier with a student.
Kearney’s attorneys specifically reference Applewhite in the lawsuit, alleging that he was provided preferential treatment amid similar circumstances. Applewhite has admitted to a relationship with a student trainer in 2009, though the story was not reported until years later.
Applewhite called it a “one-time” thing, and says that the situation is behind him and his family.