Houston coach Tony Levine fired after Cougars' 7-5 campaign
Houston coach Tony Levine has been fired, the school announced Monday morning, confirming SI.com's earlier report.
Levine and Cougars athletic director Mack Rhoades had been scheduled to meet Monday at 9 a.m. but instead met Sunday night when Rhoades informed Levin that he was fired.
“Although we are excited to play in our second straight bowl game, the expectations of our program have changed over the last five years," Rhoades said in a statement.
Defensive coordinator David Gibbs will be the interim coach for Houston's appearance in the Armed Forces Bowl on Jan. 2 vs. Pittsburgh (6-6).
Levine went 21-17 in just over three seasons with the Cougars, including posting a record of 7-5 this year. He took over the job when Kevin Sumlin left for Texas A&M in December 2012, and he coached the Cougars to a 30-14 TicketCity Bowl win over Penn State in his debut.
There were high expectations for Houston this season behind returning starting quarterback John O'Korn, but a surprising 27-7 season-opening loss to UT-San Antonio quickly dashed those hopes. O’Korn’s poor play led to his benching in early October in favor of Greg Ward Jr., who had previously been a wide receiver.
Levine also suffered a disconcerting season-opening loss in his first campaign at the helm in 2012, when Texas State beat Houston 30-13. That prompted the resignation of Levine's handpicked offensive coordinator Mike Nesbitt a couple of days later.
Staff continuity has been an issue for Levine. Last season was his best at Houston, with an 8-5 record, but it came with offensive coordinator Doug Meacham, who has worked wonders in the same role for TCU in 2014.
Meacham, Texas A&M running backs coach Clarence McKinney, Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman, Bowling Green head coach Dino Babers, Texas A&M offensive coordinator Jake Spavital and New York Jets assistant Thomas McGaughey are expected to be considered in the search to replace Levine.