OU Assistant Sumlin Agrees To Five-Year Deal To Coach Houston Cougars

Kevin Sumlin wants to turn Houston into Conference USA's version of Oklahoma

Dec. 14, 2007

HOUSTON (AP) - Kevin Sumlin wants to turn Houston into Conference USA's version of Oklahoma.

Sumlin, an assistant under Bob Stoops for the past five seasons, was introduced as the Cougars' new coach Friday after agreeing to a five-year deal.

"If there's someone you want to model yourself after that's a pretty good model," Sumlin said of his former boss. "It's hard to argue with the way he's done things. I was looking in my office the other day - I've been there five years and played in four Big 12 championships. Pretty good model."

Sumlin was an assistant at Washington State, Wyoming, Minnesota, Purdue and Texas A&M before Stoops hired him before the 2003 season. He was the special teams coordinator and tight ends coach before he was promoted to co-offensive coordinator, passing game coordinator and receivers coach in 2006.

Sumlin helped OU rank third nationally in scoring offense at 44 points a game. Houston routinely had one of the nation's top offenses under coach Art Briles, who left Nov. 28 to become the coach at Baylor. But the Cougars always struggled on defense, something Sumlin plans to handle the way Stoops did.

"Bob's built that program on defense," Sumlin said. "We're going to probably utilize the same philosophy - not probably - we will utilize the same philosophy: be aggressive. It starts with defense."

Sumlin becomes the first black head coach in the 60-year history of the UH program. Questions about race didn't come up until late in Sumlin's introductory news conference, something he says shows the progress being made in minority hiring.

"Obviously, it is an issue," he said. "It's credit to where we are right now, that of all the things that have come up today, this is one of the last."

Houston gave quite a welcome to the 43-year-old Sumlin. The band struck up the fight song, cheerleaders danced, and players past and present applauded before Sumlin stepped to a podium.



"I've always seen the University of Houston as a gold mine," said Sumlin, Houston's 11th coach. "It's the largest city in a great football-playing state. There is a wealth of talent. Any time you have a university with that many players around it, you're going to have a great chance to win."

Players such as Vince Young, Thurman Thomas and Cougars Heisman Trophy winner Andre Ware are from the Houston area.

"It's totally obvious that you don't have to go very far here," he said. "I don't see why there's any reason we can't get those players."

Houston athletics director Dave Maggard declined to say how much the five-year deal was worth for Sumlin, who's taking his first head coaching job.

Sumlin will continue to work for the Sooners (11-2) through their Fiesta Bowl matchup with West Virginia (10-2).

Houston assistant Chris Thurmond was named interim coach after Briles left and will coach Houston (8-4) against TCU (7-5) in the Texas Bowl on Dec. 28.

Briles turned the Cougars into a consistent winner, but Maggard wants the program in the national spotlight. Briles went 34-28 in five seasons, with only one losing season. Before his arrival, the Cougars had only two winning seasons in the previous 12 years.

"I felt the need to have someone that will set high expectations with us, will meet the high expectations we have here at the University of Houston," Maggard said. "The vision here is for us to reclaim our position in the national picture.

"This guy is going to energize this program."

Sumlin conceded he'll have no time over the next three weeks to recruit for his new team.

Maggard was reportedly also considering former Houston coach Jack Pardee for the vacancy. Pardee, 71, went 22-11-1 with the Cougars from 1987-89.

A phone conversation with Stoops helped make Sumlin the front-runner, Maggard said. "I asked, 'Bob, is he ready to be a head coach?' He said, 'Absolutely. He's done a great job for me and he's ready to do it."'

Sumlin said the more he talked to Maggard, the more he was convinced this was the right fit.

"You're never quite sure about anything," Sumlin said. "The thing that made the difference was Dave Maggard - his vision, where he wants this program to be, is exactly the same vision I have."