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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Guest Commentary

Guest Column: Choosing a new head coach


The news of coach Tom Herman leaving the University of Houston for the University of Texas is disappointing.

While students, faculty, staff and alumni of our great university dwell on what could have been under a Coach Herman tenure that lasted for decades, it is time for the decision-makers to begin the process of finding our next head football coach.  

I am sure that there will be a laundry list of highly qualified assistant coaches from Power Five programs chomping at the bit to get their first head coaching job at UH.  A job that they too would like to use as a stepping-stone to a head coaching position at a “prestigious Power Five school.”

However, what if the decision-makers decided not to take that path? What if they, instead, found a new head coach that saw the University of Houston as a destination instead of a stepping-stone?

How do we find such a head coach? A head coach that doesn’t put his own financial gain before the interests of our fine university? A head coach that loves the city of Houston and doesn’t ever want to leave?

Well, to start, we shouldn’t be looking for a head coach outside the city of Houston. The two most important criteria for finding our new head coach should be that the individual is Houston-born, and that they are an alumni of the University of Houston.

This is the type of person we could trust to not leave when a “better job” becomes available.

I am confident that there are many qualified candidates that fit these basic criteria. If, for some reason, the decision-makers feel that they can’t find such a candidate, then they should pick me…

Yes, me.

I was born in Houston.  I have lived in Houston my entire life. I have earned two degrees from this fine university. I have 14 other people in my family that have earned a degree from UH. My grandmother used to live in a house approximately where the McElhinney Hall sits today (way back when there were only two buildings on campus). Simply put, UH blood runs through my veins. My family and I love this city, and we love this university. We have no reason to ever want to leave.

Now, of course, my football experience is limited to a few years playing defensive tackle in high school and junior high. However, I am a huge football fan (and sports fan in general). Most importantly, I don’t need a $3 million a year salary like coach Herman. I will gladly take a yearly salary of $130,000 a year.

To put this in perspective, the 119th highest paid head coach in 2016 made $376,044 (at New Mexico State). The money that the university saves on my salary can be partially used to make the offensive and defensive coordinators some of the highest-paid assistant coaches in the country, at around $1 million each.

I could let the two coordinators run the offense and defense. My primary job responsibilities would be to motivate my team to win, select my qualified staff and to recruit outstanding talent from the Houston area. The remaining money that the university saved on my salary could be reinvested into academics.

If I can make my students motivated to vote in elections, I can motivate our team to win. I truly believe that if we put up “a wall” around the greater Houston area and kept the majority of the local four and five-star high school athletes, UH could contend for national titles every year in all of the sports.

I want to sell to Houston high school athletes on the pride that comes with winning with “Houston” written across their chest. The pride that comes from representing your hometown.

Coaches Briles, Sumlin and Herman each helped take our football program to new heights. We, as a University, owe a great debt to them. However, now is the time to take a brand new path and find a head coach that is dedicated to being part of a successful program for decades to come.

Or, we can take the same old path that we seem to take recently. We can hire an amazing assistant coach from across the nation, win all the tough games, lose some of the easier games and be in the exact same place that we are now two to three years down the road.

Do we dare take the path less traveled?

Kenneth Abbott Jr. is an adjunct professor in the department of political science and can be reached at [email protected]

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