HOUSTON – The Houston Cougars fired coach Dana Holgorsen on Sunday, a day after finishing his third losing season in five years.
“Over the course of his five seasons with the Cougars, Dana made strides in our football program in many ways and laid the groundwork for our transition to the Big 12 Conference,” Houston vice president of athletics Chris Pezman said in a statement. ”Ultimately, the results on the field fell below our standards of excellence. We are grateful to Dana for his efforts and commitment to our student-athletes and we wish him the very best in his future endeavors.”
The Cougars ended the year with three consecutive losses, capped by a 27-13 defeat at UCF on Saturday. Houston was 4-8 overall and 2-7 in Big 12 play in its inaugural season in the newly configured conference.
Houston’s disappointing finish, which included losses in five of its last six games, leaves the team out of a bowl for the first time since Holgorsen’s first season in 2019.
He finished 31-28 in five seasons in Houston.
Assistant Corby Meekins will be Houston's interim head coach while the Cougars search for a replacement.
“The University of Houston is committed to a championship-caliber football program and ensuring the success of our student-athletes,” Pezman said. “Our search for a new leader begins immediately and I am confident with the incredible fan support, tradition, access to prospective student-athletes and the pending opening of the Memorial Hermann Football Operations Center, we will attract a very strong pool of candidates.”
The Cougars made a splash when they hired the 52-year-old Holgorsen away from West Virginia after eight seasons. No coach had willingly left a Power Five school for one outside of those conferences since the College Football Playoff was established in 2014.
Houston’s best season under Holgorsen came in 2021, when he led the team to a 12-2 record and a perfect 8-0 mark in the American Athletic Conference. The Cougars finished 17th in the final AP Top 25 poll that season.
But he couldn’t build on that success, and Houston went 8-5 last season while competing in the American before this season’s nosedive.
Holgorsen had four years left on his contract after it was extended following his success in 2021 and is owed approximately $14.8 million, according to USA Today's database on coaching salaries.
Holgorsen was 61-41 and 33-30 in the Big 12 with West Virginia, which he helped transition from the Big East before joining the Cougars.
Holgorsen took over at Houston when the school fired coach Major Applewhite after two disappointing seasons in which he went 15-10.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-football