Tony Levine, the newest head coach at the University of Houston, has called his new gig his "dream job". But his dream job will certainly have its share of challenges. He must quickly prepare his team to face one of the most fearsome defenses in the nation, in Penn State. He'll immediately have to start encouraging Houston's current group of assistant coaches to stay with the Coogs - including defensive coordinator Brian Stewart and offensive coordinator Jason Phillips. Both were candidates for the job Levine won, both did an impressive job this year, and both are likely to receive job offers from elsewhere.
Once he puts together an entire staff, and a new football season starts, Levine will be tasked with replacing star players like Case Keenum, Bryce Beall, Michael Hayes, Patrick Edwards, Tyron Carrier, Marcus McGraw and Sammy Brown. He'll have exactly one year of Conference USA play left before taking the program to the Big East, and the program will be expected to be competitive immediately.
Levine will also be expected to maintain the buzz that surrounds the Cougar program - the national media attention, the sold out home games, etc.
But when Mack Rhoades tabbed Levine for the job, what he was saying was that there's plenty of reason to be confident in the state of the Cougar football program, even without guys with last names like Sumlin and Keenum.
The Cougars have been recruiting extremely well, and Levine is a big part of that. There's a great chance that the Levine hire (promotion?) will help keep Houston's 2012 class largely intact. Levine has done enough to earn the respect of the current players, as well - just watch this video if you don't believe me.
Hiring head coaches is a hit-or-miss proposition. Whether you hire an assistant, a head coach, whether you hire from your own program, someone else's program, if you look from the college ranks, or the NFL, the only way to tell how well a coach will do at the head of your program is to give them a chance. It's impossible to say how well Levine will do as the head man at UH, but it's also impossible to say that he hasn't earned the chance.