Coaching staff begins to take form
For head coach Tony Levine, one of the toughest parts of being a head coach was assembling a staff.
Unfortunately for Levine, he was forced to do it twice.
After former offensive coordinator Mike Nesbitt resigned, defensive coordinator Jamie Bryant decided not to return and offensive line coach Lee Hayes joined Texas Tech’s staff, Levine was forced to replace all three positions. Additionally, former defensive line coach Carlton Hall decided to part ways with the University.
Levine did his due diligence, said Mack Rhoades, vice president of Intercollegiate Athletics.
“For those that don’t know coach Levine, he’s pretty meticulous. He’s very thorough and talked to several people, whether it was for the offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator or offensive line coach,” Rhoades said. “He’s made several calls, both formal and informal.”
Rhoades also made calls, but Levine made the decisions. Levine hired Doug Meacham as offensive coordinator, David Gibbs as defensive coordinator and Glen Elarbee as offensive line coach.
Meacham spent the past seven seasons coaching receivers and tight ends at Oklahoma State, following a season as passing game coordinator during 2008 and 2009. Rhoades said Meacham was personally and professionally a good fit.
“He’s a great team person — what I would call a great staff guy,” Rhoades said. “He’s a terrific recruiter, very bright, a good leader and a really good listener. He’s certainly qualified with the Xs and Os.”
The Cougars have committed to running the Air Raid offense, and Meacham’s success at Oklahoma State put him on their radar. Oklahoma State runs a similar spread offense, with similar routes and route combinations.
The Cougars hope to replicate the success the Cowboys enjoyed during Meacham’s tenure.
“Throughout the last eight seasons, Oklahoma State has continually set a benchmark for offenses across the nation,” Levine said. “The explosive, high-scoring product they placed on the field is synonymous with what the University of Houston has seen in the past and what we plan to replicate in the future.”
The Cougars prioritized experience in their search for a defensive coordinator, and Gibbs held that position at Minnesota and Auburn. At Minnesota, the defense he inherited was ranked last in the Big Ten in 1996. By 1999, the Gophers were ranked eighth in the nation in pass efficiency defense and scoring defense. Gibbs also coached in the NFL for the Houston Texans, Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs.
Gibbs has not decided which defensive system the Cougars will run next season. He will evaluate the squad and make his decision based on the available talent.
“There is a lot of young talent coming back on the defensive side of the ball that any coach would appreciate, so I’m grateful for the opportunity and looking forward to getting started,” Gibbs said.
Rhoades expects Gibbs and Meacham to be great recruiters for the program. Gibbs’ connection to the NFL will definitely be a selling point with recruits.
If they recruit and perform as proficiently as Levine and Rhoades expect, Levine won’t have to reassemble his staff a third time.
An earlier version of this article identified former UH defensive line coach Carlton Hall as Carlton Hayes.