Major Applewhite has been named head football coach of the University of Houston. Applewhite, who served as Houston’s offensive coordinator in 2015-16, signed a five-year deal worth $1.5 million annually.
“Well, obviously it’s a dream come true,” the 38-year-old Applewhite said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “To be able to do it in Houston specifically, though, is the ultimate for me. Growing up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana – but coaching in the state of Texas – I’ve always watched this program from afar. I’ve always admired this program, the city, the university, the professional opportunities that student-athletes have – it’s got everything. It’s got everything you need to be successful. It’s got a rabid fan base, it’s got a commitment from the administration, from the president to the other board of regents to the people that fill the stadium. It’s a highly coveted job.”
Applewhite played quarterback at Texas in the late-1990s and early 2000s and has coached at several elite programs over the last decade and beyond. But there was nothing quite like playing for – and coaching under – Mack Brown.
“Coach Brown genuinely cares about his coaches, he genuinely cares about his players, he’s very respectful of your time as a coach and as a player, he gives you tremendous freedom to do your job on the offensive and defensive side of the ball, and he lets you have your own personality as a player,” Applewhite said. “Now there’s a team concept it all fits underneath, and I think he does a great job of pulling people together. So much of athletics is about morale, and he does an outstanding job with just keeping morale high in the building. There’s no one that I’ve been around in terms of the recruiting aspect of it that can hit home with a message as to why you should be at a certain place. He really lays it out for families. He kind of cuts through all the bull. He gets it, he can communicate on that level, and I think he can communicate on that level because he really cares. I think that’s one thing that separates him from a lot of coaches.”
Of course, it remains to be seen whether Applewhite will remain at Houston for the duration of his contract. After all, Art Briles, Kevin Sumlin and Tom Herman all left Houston for Power 5 pastures in four years or less. Herman left after two.
“I want to do a good enough job that that is an issue,” Applewhite said. “Quite honestly, that’s where my mind is. I want to hire a great staff to where that is a bridge that we have to cross one day. The expectations here at Houston, the expectations I’m going to set for myself, are going to be extremely high. But at the same time, I’m just being straight up with you: I’ve played quarterback at the University of Texas, I’ve called plays at Alabama, I’ve called plays at Texas. It’s fun, it’s great, it’s wonderful. They pay us a ton of money already. I know what the difference is with certain salaries, but if you can’t live off some of the things we’re getting paid, what’s wrong with you? I like the fact that this is a town that my family can thrive in. I think this game has lost its mind in terms of how we treat our athletes and what we’re paying our coaches. That’s not going to be popular and I’ll probably catch grief for it, but I don’t care. That’s the reality of it. To me, it’s about staying somewhere and winning. It’s all about winning and finding a town and a community that your family can thrive in.”