Names to Know for Next Houston Head Coach

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Houston became the second FBS job in Texas to open as news broke on Sunday morning that the Cougars were moving on from Dana Holgorsen after five years at the helm. Houston went 4-8 as Big 12 newcomers. Holgorsen ends his tenure with a 31-28 record at Houston headlined by a 12-win 2021 season. The Cougars were 12-13 after that season. 

The job at Houston is unique. It exists within one of the most-talented recruiting hubs in the country. The university is big with plenty of living alumni and inside a city with enough people and capital to win big, like Tom Herman did in 2015 and Holgorsen did in 2021. 

The city can also be a detriment due to the abundance of options outside of Houston football. 


Kliff Kingsbury – If Houston wants sexy, where else is there to look? Space City can be a tough place to move the needle for the Cougars because of the Astros and the Texans and the Rockets. Hiring the former Arizona Cardinals head coach would garner attention, from media and the fan base. And it’d likely help with fundraising. If it’d help them win games is a different story. 

Kingsbury is a Texas native who set records at Texas Tech and played in the NFL before his coaching career. He was the offensive coordinator at Texas A&M for Johnny Manziel and was the head coach at Texas Tech during the Patrick Mahomes era. His teams weren’t exactly successful, however. He was 35-40 at Texas Tech with a 19-35 record in the Big 12. He was 28-37-1 as a head coach in the NFL. 


Willie Fritz – The current Tulane head coach is closing in on consecutive AAC championships if his Green Wave can get by SMU next weekend. Fritz was a GA at nearby Sam Houston in 1984 and returned as an assistant in 1991 and head coach in 2010. He was the head coach of Blinn Junior College in Brenham from 1993-1996. Few coaches are better at doing more with less, and the Cougars are still behind the Big 12 contenders in revenue and facilities. Fritz has over 200 wins as a collegiate head coach at multiple levels. Tulane is 23-3 over the last two years. 

Jeff Traylor – Cougar fans know Traylor from two season-opening battles over the last two seasons. Both Houston wins. Traylor was interviewed for the Texas A&M job but does not appear to be one of the finalists. Traylor is a winner with roots as a Texas high school football coach. He won three state titles at Gilmer in East Texas. He’s won two conference titles in four years as a collegiate head coach. He was a Big 12 assistant at Texas and on an SEC staff at Arkansas. He’ll be on the short list for the Cougars. 

Jeff Banks – The current associate head coach and special teams coordinator at Texas is well-respected name in coaching circles who is still waiting for the right landing spot for his first head coaching job. He was the interim head coach at Texas A&M for a game in 2017. He’s been on staffs at UTEP, A&M, and Texas, so he knows the landscape. Even at Alabama, Banks was known as an ace recruiter in the Houston area. 

Emmett Jones – Former high school head coaches turned college upstarts have proven successful in Lubbock and San Antonio. Maybe Houston is the next place to give a former THSCA member his first head coaching job. He was successful as the head coach at South Oak Cliff before joining the college ranks at Texas Tech. He’s served as a wide receiver coach at stops at Kansas, where he almost landed the permanent job after leading the program in the spring, and now at Oklahoma. Jones is a great recruiter with ties across Texas.


Gary Patterson – The Kansas man built his reputation as a program builder and leader at TCU as head coach from 2000 through 2021. He led the Horned Frogs to conference championships in Conference USA, Mountain West, and the Big 12. Patterson was 181-79 as a head coach. He has 10 years of experience as a head coach in the Big 12. If the Cougars need a man with a proven track record and understanding of how to lead a Big 12 newbie, Patterson is the man. He helped TCU move into the Big 12 in 2012 and was a conference champion three seasons later. Patterson has expressed interest in returning to coaching. 


GJ Kinne – The hottest young name in the Texas coaching community is currently the head man at Texas State. Kinne took Incarnate Word to the FCS semifinals in his one year there and is 7-5 in his first season in San Marcos. The Bobcats are headed to a bowl game for the first time in school history. His offenses score a lot of points, he’s proven adept at overhauling a roster, and he has plenty of connections to the NFL, college football, and the Texas high school scene. 

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