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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Football

Perfect fit for UH offense


Some things are just meant to be. For first-year Houston Cougars head football coach Tony Levine, the stars seemed to align early in his coaching search after being faced with filling several vacancies in his staff following the departure Kevin Sumlin to Texas A&M.

“I was sitting in bed one night at midnight and I looked up the FCS statistics and saw that Stephen F. Austin was sixth in the nation in passing and ninth in total offense,” Levine said.

“I went to their website to see who their offensive coordinator was and saw it was Mike Nesbitt, whom I’d never met before. The very next morning at 9:30, I got a phone call from a number I didn’t recognize and the person left me a message… it was Mike Nesbitt.”

After interviewing roughly 10 candidates, Levine chose Nesbitt — a disciple of the air-raid offensive tactic at Blinn College, West Texas A&M and Stephen F. Austin — to be the newest offensive coordinator as well as quarterbacks coach. Nesbitt, who recalls watching the Cougars dating back to the fast run-and-shoot offenses under quarterbacks David Klingler and Andre Ware, has paid especially close attention to UH in recent years.

“When Coach (Dana) Holgorsen was here, we started following because he was starting to do some different things from when he left (Texas) Tech,” Nesbitt said. “I DVR-ed every Houston game this year, then you get the job and you have every game on tape.”

Of the nine full-time coaching assistant positions allocated by the NCAA, the Cougars have filled eight spots, five of whom were not on last season’s staff. Still, Levine is pleased to have a trio of familiar faces returning.

“I’ve had the privilege of coaching alongside Coach (Zac) Spavital for four years, Coach (Carlton) Hall and (Jamie) Bryant for one year,” Levine said. “All three of them have had opportunities to leave here, but have chosen to stay and have expressed to me how much they want to be here and how excited they are about where the program is headed.”

Off the field, the contingent of coaches spent a majority of their New Year on the recruiting trail, a process Levine has compared to running a marathon at a sprint-like speed in his new position before the Feb. 1 signing date. When the Cougars return to Robertson Stadium this fall, new faces will fuse with old, but the objectives will be one in the same.

“We will play a 12-game regular season schedule and focus one game at a time,” Levine said. “Our goals really won’t change from what they’ve been, that’s to win our side of the conference and win the Conference USA championship.”

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