Shrewd strategy by UH Athletics will pay off

University of Houston fans were elated last fall when Dana Holgorsen was fired from his job as head football coach. But getting rid of Holgorsen was only half the battle: if the new coach were not the right type of leader or wasn’t deeply invested in the program, it could be as bad or worse than it had been.

the daily #195 | 2/15/2024 | Archives

UH quickly hired a coach that fixed many of Dana’s shortcomings. In his sixth collegiate head coaching stop, Willie Fritz is mature yet still hungry. He has a plan and has hired a staff focused on building relationships with fans, players, and recruits. Fritz’s relationship-focused recruiting brought in strong high school and transfer classes, eliminating all concerns over the whereabouts of that infamous ship. Turns out, it had not sailed.

Wednesday, UH Athletics published a press release about Tyrone Green, the new head coach at Shadow Creek High School in Pearland (but part of the Alvin Independent School District). Green committed to play at Houston in February 2000 and has been a high school coach since graduating. He’s been at Shadow Creek since they opened their doors in 2016 and is now getting his chance at the head job.

Universities do not send out press releases on former players getting HS head coaching jobs. Just doesn’t happen. But AD Chris Pezman had an idea, brilliant in both its simplicity and savviness. After hiring Fritz, Pez came up with the idea of producing a feature story celebrating former players who are now in coaching. It turned out that a UH staffer had kept a file showing where former players were coaching. When Associate AD for Strategic Communications Andy Pate saw Green had been promoted, he knew they had their lede for Pez’s feature.

UH DL Zion Taylor graduated from Shadow Creek HS in December 2023 //

Shadow Creek has three coaches who played at Houston: Green, OL/strength & conditioning coach Al James, and running backs/special teams coach Demetrius Woods. In addition, former UH equipment manager Rene Glapion is the Sharks’ offensive coordinator/receivers coach. Nine former players are head coaches in the high school ranks and were mentioned in UH’s story. Those coaches were thrilled to be discussed in the piece.

Willie Fritz wanted to embrace UH’s history from the day he stepped onto campus and is planning for a letter winners’ reunion on spring game weekend. The idea to highlight former players turned football coaches was not his idea but aligned with his vision. The story promotes UH as an educational institution and a coaching training ground while promoting those coaches’ programs.

The idea was clever. Why wouldn’t UH want to talk up Shadow Creek, an eight-year-old school that has already played for two state titles? Houston signed two players from Shadow Creek last season, and there’s good reason to believe that work is underway to build a pipeline from UH down 288 to Shadow Creek.

Houston Athletics used a novel idea to promote former players, boost recruiting, and catch the eye of Texas High School coaches. It’s an acuity that has never materialized at UH, mainly because of football leadership and vision. With Fritz at the helm, everyone from the AD on down is united and building towards a single vision. Now, good ideas are being produced and turned into astute strategies.

It really is a new day.