Potential OC replacements for Houston Cougars include Seth Littrell, Jake Spavital, Graham Harrell

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The Houston offense will be under new leadership when the Cougars reach the Big 12 in the fall because offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson is taking the same gig at Miami. Dawson, who helped the Cougars to a 20-7 record over the past two seasons, engineered a high-powered offense led by quarterback Clayton Tune and wide receiver Nathaniel Dell. 

Houston averaged 36.1 points per game in 2022, which was 16th in the nation. The Cougars were 15thnationally in 2021 when they averaged 35.9 points per game during a 12-win campaign that culminated in a bowl win over Auburn and a trip to the AAC title game. 

Dawson’s departure is just the latest for Dana Holgorsen’s program during a time of change. The Cougars must replace Tune and Dell in 2023. They signed Texas Tech quarterback Donovan Smith from the transfer portal to help in the passing game. The return of star running back Alton McCaskill from injury will also be a boost for Houston. 



Few people are closer to Holgorsen as Spavital, the former head coach at Texas State who took a job as the Cal offensive coordinator and quarterback coach this offseason. A call from an old friend and mentor may wrangle Spavital back to Texas. The two coached together at Houston, Oklahoma State, and West Virginia. Spavital also spent time at Texas A&M and knows the state of Texas as well as anyone on the market. It’d be an easy transition and give Holgorsen a play-caller that he truly trusts to drive the ship in the Big 12. 


Harrell is an Air-Raid disciple who runs a similar offense to the one Holgorsen and Dawson engineered during the Houston reign. Harrell played at Texas Tech under Mike Leach and spent time as the offensive coordinator at North Texas, USC, West Virginia, and Purdue. He joined Purdue this offseason after a year in West Virginia. Harrell is a Texas native with plenty of ties to the state because his dad is a legend in the prep ranks as an offensive innovator during his time at Ennis. 


Littrell is another Air-Raid coach with ties to Holgorsen and the state of Texas. He was most recently the head coach at North Texas, leading the Mean Green to six bowl appearances in seven seasons. He was replaced in Denton despite reaching the conference championship game in 2022. Littrell’s name was mentioned as a possibility when the TCU offensive coordinator job opened. He’s currently on the market, but he’s never coached quarterbacks and that could be an issue. The North Texas offense was excellent in 2022. 


Trickett, who became the offensive coordinator at Marshall in 2022 after a year as the wide receiver coach and passing game coordinator, played quarterback at West Virginia for Holgorsen. He was the co-OC at FAU in 2020. 


The Florida native last coached at Baylor in 2020 as the offensive line coach. He’s spent massive amounts of time in the Lone Star State thanks to two separate stints in Waco and a couple of seasons as the OL coach for the Longhorns. Wickline was the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at West Virginia during a three-year stint at West Virginia when Holgorsen was the head coach of the Mountaineers. If Holgorsen wants to call plays and surround himself with a familiar face to help guide the offense, Wickline isn’t a bad choice given how late in the coaching carousel Houston enters the market. 

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