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Thursday, June 8, 2023


Round table: The Cougar coaching carousel


Head coach Kelvin Sampson is entering his second season with the Cougars, and expectations are at a high level. Will he bring success in-conference back to Houston? | File photo/The Cougar

Continuing our round table series, The Cougar sports section discusses various coaching staffs at UH. Houston has a recent history of producing head coaches for other universities. Will that continue for the Cougars?

Much has been made of the hiring of Tom Herman for football, and he hired a great assortment of assistants around him. Who is one assistant you think will flourish at Houston?

Sports writer Adam Coleman: I think defensive coordinator Todd Orlando will have a lot of success this season. Normally, when you’re learning a new system, the defense gels before the offense and with players like Stewart and Jackson, that transition will be even smoother. It seems like the players really like him too, which is always a plus.

Sports writer Shardanna Jones: Assistant head coach and defensive line coach Oscar Giles. Although the team lost their leader in David Gibbs, who turned the Cougars’ defense completely around, they have an identity now, and Giles can come in and make an even bigger impact on this flourishing defense.

While talking about success, who do you think will be the first football coach to be hired away from UH?

Sports writer Michael Calderon: The defense was a major strength of the team last year finishing 20th in total defense in the NCAA, giving up an average of 343.4 yards per game and allowing just 33 touchdowns to opposing teams. Defensive coordinator Todd Orlando should come in, install his attacking scheme, improve an already good unit and ride them to his first head coaching job.

Sports writer Tevin Mills: I hope I’m wrong, but coach Applewhite. He is prone to leave programs in pursuit of other opportunities. Of his three previous coaching stints, the only school to keep him longer than one season was the University of Texas. It never took a promotion to steal him away either; he left each school only to fill the same position elsewhere.

Kelvin Sampson has a long history as a successful college basketball coach. Now that he’s back in the NCAA, what are the chances of a major college program hiring him away if he finds success?

MC: If Sampson is able to turnaround the Cougar basketball program the way he turned around Montana Tech, the University of Montana and Washington State University, then I think the chances are pretty good. Previously, he led Oklahoma to the postseason every year of his tenure, three consecutive Big 12 Tournament championships and a trip to the NCAA Final Four. It certainly would not be the first time a UH coach was poached by another program and I can easily see this happening with Sampson.

SJ: I think the chances are high, actually. I believe that he is going to get this program up and running and on its highest level that he can while he’s here, but he’d be more than willing to be hired away to bigger and better and eventually work his way back into the pros. I don’t think he’d leave too soon, however.

Women’s Tennis has a new coach coming in following the successful job of Patrick Sullivan. How do you see head coach Courtney Steinbock doing this season after a successful two years as an assistant at Oklahoma State University?

AC: I think Steinbock will shine in Houston. Sullivan left a good foundation and it’s not uncommon for a first-year coach to see early success, much like Sullivan did. It may be a slight adjustment period, one of the biggest variables will be if the players can buy in. With the quality of talent still on the roster, we can expect bright things to happen out there on the tennis court.

TM: Though this is Coach Steinbock’s first job as a head coach, the Cougars should have great expectations for the tennis team this upcoming season. The search committee nailed this selection as they chose a coach who is accustomed to flourishing the way we expect our tennis team to. Coach Steinbock will continue the winning culture and hopefully realize the championship aspirations for the UH tennis team.

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