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Thursday, September 21, 2023


Lots of changes taking place

It has been a hectic week for the Houston Cougars. Their head coach jetted for another school, they brought in a former assistant coach and named an interim coach – all without stepping foot onto a football field.

Former Cougar head coach Art Briles accepted a lucrative seven-year $1.8 million offer from Baylor on Wednesday. Briles ranks in the top 20 in the nation among highest paid coaches.

The Cougars named recruiting coordinator and assistant cornerbacks coach Chris Thurmond the interim head coach on Wednesday.

Thurmond has spent the last two seasons helping Houston, but before joining the staff Thurmond spent three seasons with Texas A’M.

Thurmond, 54, is a veteran coach that has been around the country. Thurmond spent some time with Alabama, Texas Christian University, Tulsa, Oklahoma and East Carolina.

"Chris Thurmond has a lot of experience," Director of Athletics Dave Maggard said in a press release. "He’s been around a long time. He is somebody that is respected on the staff, and by the players. Right now he is the person best to be the interim (head coach) and take us through the bowl."

Houston has also brought on former Cougar wide receiver Jason Phillips to help Thurmond prepare for the Texas Bowl, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Dec. 28 at Reliant Stadium. The opponent has yet to be named.

"Jason is ready to roll," Maggard told the Houston Chronicle. "Jason is going to help us with the preparation (for the bowl game)….Jason is going to be part of our staff, and he’s going to remain a part of our staff until the new person comes in, and we’ll see what happens after that."

Phillips, 41, spent this season coaching inside receivers and as the recruiting coordinator for the Baylor Bears.

When former Baylor head coach Guy Morriss was fired on Nov. 18, Phillips left with him.

Before this season with the Bears, Phillips was the wide receivers coach for the Cougars for four years, and he coached the cornerbacks in 2005.

"They’ve done so much for me here during my playing career and my previous coaching (stint) that there was no doubt in my mind that I would come back and contribute in any way I could," Phillips told the Chronicle.

Keenum takes the Cake

Redshirt freshman quarterback Case Keenum can call himself the Freshman of the Year as of Wednesday. Keenum joins three other Cougars who have garnered the Conference USA Freshman of the Year award.

Former Cougars who have also won Freshman of the Year are quarterbacks Kevin Kolb in 2003 and Jason McKinley in 1997 and running back Ketric Sanford in 1996.

Keenum finished the regular season with 1,924 yards with 13 passing touchdowns, completing 69.8 percent of his passes with a pass efficiency rating of 148.30, which was 16th in the nation.

Keenum also made opponents pay with his legs, rushing for 414 yards and nine rushing touchdowns.

"This is incredible," Keenum said in a press release. "This a great testament to the team, overall. There were a lot of good guys up front blocking, catching balls, and then Quick (Anthony Alridge) who creates a lot of possibilities when he gets the ball or even when we fake to him."

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