The most striking thing about the weeks leading up to Kevin Sumlin's departure from the University of Houston was the myriad of bad journalism that it spawned. The overpowering need to be the first person to break the story, regardless of the facts, led to so-called journalists across the country reporting uncorroborated and untrue speculation.
So when UH Athletics Director Mack Rhoades says that he's keeping the UH coaching search close to the vest, what that means is that when you start reading various outlets saying that so-and-so is Houston's next coach, calm down and wait for it to come from the horse's mouth.
That said, while I don't know what Rhoades will do, I am certainly hoping that he stays within house for Houston's next head football coach.
Don't get me wrong, Rhoades will conduct a national coaching search, and he absolutely should. There's no harm in seeing what's out there. But the sexy names that began this off-season on the market - the Mike Leaches and Rich Rodriguezes of the world - have been scooped up already. What's left is mostly just a list of uninspiring assistants.
Sonny Dykes, head coach of Louisiana Tech would be a decent choice. Kirby Smart, Alabama's defensive coordinator, could help change the long-standing culture of mediocrity of that side of the ball for the Cougars. (This year being a happy exception.)
And as Rhoades has said recently, all you can ask of a head coach is that they leave the program better than they found it. Art Briles did that. Sumlin did that. If Dykes or Smart came to Houston and did the same, the Cougar football program would be very well off.
But it sure would be nice if the Cougars could find a head coach who not only has a proven track record, but who would truly want to stay on Cullen Boulevard in the long run. How about Jason Phillips? Phillips is a dyed-in-the-wool Cougar who played for UH back in the day, a great recruiter who has been on the coaching staff since before Sumlin, and he deserves as much credit (if not more) than anybody else for the potency of the Houston offense.
How about Tony Levine? Recently promoted to interim head coach, he has worn many hats for the Cougars, coaching the special teams and the inside receivers, and has excelled at everything he has touched. The announcement that Levine would coach the bowl game reportedly drew a standing ovation from the Cougar players.
Houston has a great thing going right now. While the loss of a huge senior class with guys like Case Keenum, Patrick Edwards and Marcus McGraw will certainly hurt, the Cougars have been recruiting well enough, and have enough returning talent that the UH head coaching position is not a major rebuilding job. Phillips and Levine have proven themselves, they have the respect of the players and recruits, and either could keep the Cougar program rolling without missing a beat.
If you're Mack Rhoades, some of the most productive assistants in the nation are already under your employ. Why not take advantage of that?