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Sunday, September 24, 2023


For offensive coordinator, Houston isn’t just a stepping stone

Football Practice WEB 7 Applewhite

Offensive coordinator Major Applewhite, right, spent last season traveling the country to observe other teams systems and practices, before a return to coach in Houston. | Michael Calderon/The Cougar

One of the key additions to head football coach Tom Herman’s staff is former University of Texas quarterback Major Applewhite, who will serve as Houston’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Applewhite is somewhat of a household name in the state of Texas, having spent his playing days at the helm of the Longhorns.

After his college career was over, Applewhite spent time at various schools before returning to his alma mater in 2007.

In his final four years at UT, Applewhite served as the co-offensive coordinator under Mack Brown, but was not retained by head coach Charlie Strong.

Applewhite’s once skyrocketing coaching career had fallen off and he spent the 2014 season away from football… mostly.

While he did take the opportunity to spend time with his wife Julie and daughter Lila, a return to football was never far from his mind.

Instead of visiting hotspot tourist destinations, Applewhite took to meet with various coaches, share ideas and watch practices.

It was on his visit to Ohio State University that Applewhite reconnected with Herman, the Buckeyes’ co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at that time.

The two crossed paths years earlier in Austin when Herman was serving as a graduate assistant.
When Herman was hired to take charge of the UH football program, adding Applewhite to coach his offense was a natural fit.

“It was important for me to find a guy that would be able to come in, who had no ego, who wouldn’t be set in his ways, who would be willing to learn the University of Houston’s offense,” Herman said of hiring Applewhite.

One of the biggest reasons that Herman wanted to add the former Longhorn to his staff was a shared football philosophy that was rehashed during their reconnection.

“We are aligned in our philosophy, in that you have to be a physical offense number one, whether it be in the run game or the passing game,” Applewhite said. “You’ve got to be prepared for a rainy day, literally.”

As a man with 12 years of coaching experience under his belt to go along with a successful playing career, Applewhite has earned the respect of players.

“Back when I grew up, when a coach asked me to run through a wall, I said ‘yes sir, how fast would you like me to go?’ Nowadays, you say run through a wall and a kid will ask ‘why?’” said Herman. “They ask why a lot less when you can say ‘because I’m Major Applewhite and I have done this, this and this. It adds a lot of credibility to what they are preaching,” Herman said.

So far, the Cougars are enthusiastic about Applewhite’s addition to the staff.

“It’s always exciting when you have a guy like that,” senior running back Kenneth Farrow said. “I’m looking forward to getting out there on the field with them.”

Applewhite however, is not so concerned with his reputation, after having been in the coaching business long enough to know that flattering comments get you nothing.

“You can be a guru one day and then the next day, you’re blanked,” Applewhite said. “This sport is very humbling.”

So far, the Cougars have taken to Applewhite and the culture of winning through practice habits, attitude and mental toughness that he and the other coaches are working to instill.

“I think they’ve understood that we are trying to do what’s best for them and what’s best for this university,” Applewhite said. “We are going to do what’s fair for Houston, and what’s fair for Houston is that we get great practices, put out a great team.”

The Cougar football program has gained a reputation for producing coaches that are snatched up by higher-level programs, but Applewhite said that he isn’t interested in leaving any time soon.

“I like where I’m at,” Applewhite said. “We are happy as can be and in the coaching world, you don’t want to move and I’m not interested in trying to move. I’m happy here.”

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