Sumlin becomes eighth minority head coach in FBS ranks
Sumlin, the first black head coach in the 60-year history of the UH program (and the eighth minority in the FBS), has been an Oklahoma assistant for the past five seasons under Bob Stoops. He was promoted to co-offensive coordinator in 2006 for the Sooners' offense that ranked third nationally this season with 44 points a game.
"I've always seen the University of Houston as a gold mine," said Sumlin, Houston's 11th coach. "It's the largest city in a great football-playing state. There is a wealth of talent. Any time you have a university with that many players around it, you're going to have a great chance to win."
The Houston area has produced players such as Vince Young, Thurman Thomas and Cougars Heisman Trophy winner Andre Ware.
Houston athletics director Dave Maggard declined to say how much the five-year deal was worth for Sumlin, who's taking his first head coaching position.
Sumlin will continue to work for the Sooners (11-2) through their Fiesta Bowl matchup with West Virginia (10-2). He planned to return to Norman later Friday.
Houston assistant Chris Thurmond was named the interim coach of the Cougars after Art Briles left for Baylor on Nov. 28. Thurmond will coach Houston (8-4) against TCU (7-5) in the Texas Bowl on Dec. 28.
Briles turned the Cougars into a consistent winner, but Maggard wants the program to march into the national spotlight. Briles went 34-28 in five seasons, with only one losing season. Before his arrival, the Cougars had only two winning seasons in the previous 12 years.
Briles also lost three bowl games, and while the high-flying offense always ranked among the national leaders, the defense typically struggled.
"I felt the need to have someone that will set high expectations with us, will meet the high expectations we have here at the University of Houston," Maggard said. "The vision here is for us to reclaim our position in the national picture.
"This guy is going to energize this program."
Sumlin was an assistant at Washington State, Wyoming, Minnesota, Purdue and Texas A&M before Stoops hired him before the 2003 season. He was the special teams coordinator and tight ends coach before he was promoted to co-offensive coordinator, passing game coordinator and receivers coach in 2006.
Sumlin said Stoops has become his most influential mentor. "If there's someone you want to model yourself after," Sumlin said, "that's a pretty good model. It's hard to argue with the way he's done things. I was looking in my office the other day -- I've been there five years and played in four Big 12 championships. Pretty good model."
Sumlin conceded he'll have no time the next three weeks to recruit for his new team.
Maggard was reportedly also considering former Houston coach Jack Pardee for the vacancy. Pardee, 71, went 22-11-1 with the Cougars from 1987 to 1989.
A phone conversation with Stoops helped make Sumlin the front-runner, Maggard said. "I asked, 'Bob, is he ready to be a head coach?' He said, 'Absolutely. He's done a great job for me and he's ready to do it.' "
Sumlin said the more he talked to Maggard, the more he was convinced this was the right fit.
"You're never quite sure about anything," Sumlin said. "The thing that made the difference was Dave Maggard -- his vision, where he wants this program to be, is exactly the same vision I have."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press