Best Offensive Coordinators Since 2008

UH Offensive Coordinators
It’s a new football season which generally means a new offensive coordinator. In the last 12 years, the Coogs have had 9 different OC stints. Here’s the GoCoogs ranking of UH offensive coordinators since Kevin Sumlin’s debut in 2008:

9. Travis Bush (v2.0)

At UH: 2014
QBs Developed: 0 (QBs Ruined: John O’Korn)
Scoring Average: 29.3
Over 50 Points: 0
Over 40 Points: 2
UH Highlight: Tulane loss, which ensured he and Tony Levine would be fired.
UH Lowlight: Not scoring for the first 58:56 seconds of the UTSA game.

Thoughts: The UTSA game was the night when UH fans realized that Bush had ruined John O’Korn, having him add muscle and change his throwing motion.

There was a lot of head shaking in the embarrassing loss to UTSA, going down 23-0 at BYU, not scoring a TD against UCF, and losing to Tulane on Homecoming. Overall, he’s the worst offensive coordinator at UH in decades.

Lagniappe: In the UTSA game, Bush’s offense fumbled 5 times, threw 4 INTs, and scored just 7 points. The lone TD came on the 73rd (and last) offensive snap of the game.

It would still take another month before he would allow Greg Ward into QB meetings.


8. Mike Nesbitt

At UH: A muggy September night in 2012
QBs Developed: __
Scoring Average: 13
Over 50 Points: __
Over 40 Points: __
UH Highlight: David Piland threw a 60 yard TD pass – the only TD of Nesbitt’s UH career.
UH Lowlight: UH’s opening drive took 14 seconds while the ensuing punt return took 13 seconds.
Current Job: 2nd season as head coach at Ottawa University in Surprise, Arizona.

Thoughts: After living through 2 years of Travis Bush and another of Brian Johnson, I’ve become (somewhat) sympathetic towards Mike Nesbitt. Tony was ill-prepared to be a head coach and scapegoated Nesbitt after one game.

Lagniappe: At Ottawa, his offense scored 51 ppg in their inaugural season last year. Surprise!

Mike Nesbitt
Nesbitt is the only UH coach in recent memory to cut his own hair.


7. Brian Johnson

At UH: 2017
QBs Developed: Umm…Kyle Allen?
Scoring Average: 28.4
Over 50 Points: 1
Over 40 Points: 1
UH Highlight: Leaving.
UH Lowlight: Didn’t improve any of the 3 QBs, 17 points in losses to 2-10 Tulsa and Tulane.
Current Job: Took a demotion to become QB Coach at Florida.

Thoughts: Brian Johnson’s offense tried the patience of UH fans in 2017. He led an inept offense and seemed to run only 4-5 different plays a game.

His lack of creativity in play design did nothing to put his QBs and playmakers in a position to succeed. Going to Florida was the Christmas gift every Cougar fan deserved after a year with his sleep-inducing offense.

Lagniappe: Combining 2015, 2016, and 2017, the Cougars scored 30+ points in 35 of 40 games. In Brian Johnson’s tenure as OC (2017), the Coogs scored 30+ in just 4 of 11 games.


6. Travis Bush (2012 Edition)

At UH: OC last 11 games of 2012 season.
QBs Developed: lol
Scoring Average: 34.2
Over 50 Points: 0
Over 40 Points: 6
UH Highlight: Setting an NCAA record with 115 plays in his first game as OC.
UH Lowlight: Offense giving up 3 pick-sixes and a fumble return for TD vs SMU.
Current Job: Seguin High School Head Coach

Thoughts: Many believe Bush manipulated first-time head coach Tony Levine into panicking and pushing Mike Nesbitt out after the Texas State game. In 2012, Bush’s offense committed 34 turnovers in 11 games and the 41-7 loss to Tulsa was the most lopsided in UH Homecoming history. So he’s got that going for him, which is nice.

Lagniappe: UH’s first lead of the 2012 season came 6 minutes into his 3rd game as OC.

travis bush


5. Doug Meacham

At UH: 2013
QBs Developed: John O’Korn
Scoring Average: 33.2
Over 50 Points: 2
Over 40 Points: 4
UH Highlight: Blowout win at Rutgers.
UH Lowlight: 3-straight November losses with less than 20 points.
Current Job: Unemployed

Thoughts: Doug Meacham looked to be a solid choice for offensive coordinator after Oklahoma State snubbed him. He guided freshman John O’Korn to a nice start but once Meacham began looking for jobs, and as the schedule got tougher, his offense fell off.


4. Major Applewhite

At UH: 2015-2016
QBs Developed: Greg Ward, I guess
Scoring Average: 38.2
Over 50 Points: 5
Over 40 Points: 12
UH Highlight: Averaged 35 ppg and went 5-0 vs P5 teams (3 top-10 teams).
UH Lowlight: Scored 16 points in blowout loss to 5-7 SMU.
Current Job: Analyst at Alabama, getting checks from UH.

Thoughts: Major was an adequate, if not stubborn, OC for the Coogs. He was part of the staff that transformed Greg Ward from a guy that lost to Tulane into an NY6 Bowl winner. The 22 games won with Major as OC is the best two-year stretch in Cougar history. Without Ward, he’s closer to Travis Bush than Kliff Kingsbury.


3. Kendal Briles

At UH: 2018
QBs Developed: D’Eriq King
Scoring Average: 46.4
Over 50 Points: 2
Over 40 Points: 10
UH Highlight: resigning, which set regime change into motion.
UH Lowlight: SMU gameplan

Kendal brought much-needed gravitas to UH when he was hired from FAU. His offense made Marquez Stevenson a star and helped King account for 50 TDs. His play designs reminded me of his dad early in his UH career.

Lagniappe: The Cougars scored 40+ in the first 8 games – they were the only team in the country to do so.


2. Dana Holgorsen

At UH: 2008-2009
QBs Developed: Case Keenum
Scoring Average: 41.4
Over 50 Points: 6
Over 40 Points: 16
UH Highlight: Brilliantly called 16 play, 95-yard TD drive for the win vs Texas Tech in 2009.
UH Lowlight: Armed Forces Bowl 2009.
Current Job: UH Head Coach

Thoughts: I know, I know. I’m supposed to rank the current head coach first.

Dana made a really good Briles offense even better. He was responsible for turning Case Keenum into a gunslinger and eventually into a household name. His offense led the Coogs to the first bowl win in a generation, a win over a top-5 team on the road, and was responsible for getting UH ranked for the first time since the early 90s.

Lagniappe: When he left UH, his two-year point total was the best in UH history (1,119 points). 2008-09 just edged out the 1100 points scored in 89-90 (in 6 fewer games, though).

Dana Holgorsen and Case Keenum


1. Kliff Kingsbury

At UH: 2010-2011
QBs Developed: Case Keenum
Scoring Average: 43.9
Over 50 Points: 9
Over 40 Points: 15
UH Highlight: Beat UCLA in Keenum’s first game back from ACL tear, TicketCity Bowl.
UH Lowlight: Lost 4 in a row to end 2010 with Piland at QB, C-USA title game.
Current Job: Arizona Cardinals Head Coach

Thoughts: Kliff was responsible for an offense that scored 690 points in 2011 – the highest in school history. Kliff partnered with Case to the point that they wrote the gameplan together for the TicketCity Bowl. Keenum threw it 69 times for 532 yards to end both of their careers on Cullen with a win.

Lagniappe: The 690 points scored in 2011 is the 3rd highest in FBS/D1 history going back to 1904.

Kliff Kingsbury and Case Keenum


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