Kendal Briles just became the 9th OC in 11 years for the University of Houston, meaning the last decade has seen 8 different offensive coordinators (Travis Bush, somehow, was OC twice).
I decided to rank the UH offensive coordinators since Kevin Sumlin’s debut 10 years ago:
8. Travis Bush (2014 Disaster)
At UH: 2014
QBs Developed: 0 (QBs Ruined: John O’Korn)
Scoring Average: 29.3
Over 50 Points: 0
Over 40 Points: 2
UH Highlight: Tulane loss, which ensured he and Levine would be fired.
UH Lowlight: Not scoring for the first 58 minutes, 56 seconds of the opening game at TDECU Stadium. Only when his friends at UTSA put in their walk-ons did back-up QB Billy Cosh lead UH to a score.
It was also the night the world saw that Bush had ruined John O’Korn, having him gain weight and change his throwing motion. O’Korn threw 4 INTs that night.
Thoughts: I guess that summed up my thoughts on Bush and his infamous 2014 season, huh? There was a lot of head shaking in the embarrassing loss to UTSA, going down 23-0 at BYU, not scoring a TD against UCF, and losing to Tulane on Homecoming. Overall, he’s the worst offensive coordinator at UH in decades.
Bonus Fun Fact! Bush benefited from the best scoring UH defense since 1999. They gave up just 19.5 ppg in the regular season.
7. Mike Nesbitt
At UH: A muggy September night in 2012
QBs Developed: __
Scoring Average: 13
Over 50 Points: __
Over 40 Points: __
UH Highlight: David Piland threw a 60 yard TD pass – the only TD of Nesbitt’s UH career.
UH Lowlight: UH’s opening drive took only 14 seconds. The ensuing punt return took 13 seconds.
Current Job: Recently named Head Coach at Ottawa University in Surprise, Arizona. Surprise!
Thoughts: After living through 2 years of Travis Bush and another of Brian Johnson, I’ve become (somewhat) sympathetic to Mike Nesbitt. Who knows? He could have been one of the great offensive coordinators but was scapegoated and pushed out by Tony Levine and Bush. He remains the only UH coach in recent memory to cut his own hair.
6. Brian Johnson
At UH: 2017
QBs Developed: Umm…. D’Eriq King?
Scoring Average: 28.3
Over 50 Points: 1
Over 40 Points: 1
UH Highlight: Leaving
UH Lowlight: Didn’t improve any of the 3 QBs, 17 points in a blowout to 2-10 Tulsa, 17 points at Tulane.
Current Job: Took a demotion to become QB Coach at Florida
Thoughts: Brian Johnson’s offense tried the patience of UH fans in 2017. He led a boring, inept crew that seemed to run only 4-5 plays a game. His lack of creativity in play design did nothing to put his QBs and playmakers in a position to succeed. Going to Florida was the Christmas gift every Cougar fan deserved after a year with his sleep-inducing offense.
5. Travis Bush (2012 Edition)
At UH: OC last 11 games of 2012 season.
QBs Developed: Hahaha
Scoring Average: 34.2
Over 50 Points: 0
Over 40 Points: 6
UH Highlight: Setting an NCAA record with 115 plays in his first game as OC.
UH Lowlight: Offense giving up 3 Pick-Sixes and a fumble return for TD vs SMU.
Current Job: Seguin High School Head Coach
Thoughts: Travis Bush is the ultimate punching bag. Many believe he manipulated first-time head coach Tony Levine into panicking and pushing Mike Nesbitt out after 1 game. Bush’s offense committed 34 turnovers in 11 games and the 41-7 Homecoming loss to Tulsa was the most lopsided in UH history. So he’s got that going for him, which is nice.
Bonus Fun Fact! UH’s first lead of the 2012 season came 6 minutes into the 4th game.
4. Doug Meacham
At UH: 2013
QBs Developed: John O’Korn
Scoring Average: 33.2
Over 50 Points: 2
Over 40 Points: 4
UH Highlight: Blowout win at Rutgers.
UH Lowlight: 3-straight November losses with less than 20 points.
Current Job: Kansas Offensive Coordinator
Thoughts: Doug Meacham looked to be a solid choice for offensive coordinator after Oklahoma State snubbed him. He guided freshman John O’Korn to a nice start but once Meacham began looking to leave to UH, and as the schedule got tougher, his offense fell off.
3. Major Applewhite
At UH: 2015-2016
QBs Developed: Greg Ward
Scoring Average: 38.2
Over 50 Points: 5
Over 40 Points: 12
UH Highlight: Averaged 35 ppg and going 5-0 vs P5 teams (3 top-10 teams).
UH Lowlight: Scored 16 points in blowout loss to 5-7 SMU.
Current Job: UH Head Coach
Thoughts: Major was a solid, if not stubborn, OC for the Coogs. He helped transform Greg Ward from a guy that lost to Tulane into a NY6 Bowl winner. The 22 games won with Major as OC was the best two-year stretch in Cougar history.
2. Dana Holgorsen
At UH: 2008-2009
QBs Developed: Case Keenum
Scoring Average: 41.4
Over 50 Points: 6
Over 40 Points: 16
UH Highlight: Brilliantly called 16 play, 95-yard TD drive for the win vs Texas Tech in 2009.
UH Lowlight: Armed Forces Bowl 2009
Current Job: WVU Head Coach
Thoughts: Dana made a really good Briles offense even better. He was responsible for turning Case Keenum into a gunslinger and eventually into a household name. His offense led the Coogs to the first bowl win in a generation, a win over a top 5 team on the road, and was responsible for getting UH ranked for the first time since the early 90s.
1. Kliff Kingsbury
At UH: 2010-2011
QBs Developed: Case Keenum, David Piland
Scoring Average: 43.9
Over 50 Points: 9
Over 40 Points: 15
UH Highlight: Beat UCLA in Keenum’s first game back from ACL tear & TicketCity Bowl
UH Lowlight: Lost 4 in a row to end 2010 with Piland at QB.
Current Job: Texas Tech Head Coach
Thoughts: Kliff was probably my favorite OC of all-time at UH. He brought a young, cool vibe to the program and bonded with Case Keenum over his 4 years at UH (2 as OC, 2 as Analyst). Their partnership blossomed to the point that they wrote the gameplan together for the TicketCity Bowl. Keenum threw it 69 times for 532 yards to end both of their careers on Cullen with a win.