Major Applewhite has been fired as Houston football coach after two seasons in charge of the Cougars, according to a release from the school.
Hired as head coach before the 2017 season, Applewhite went 15-11 with a trio of bowl losses, including a lopsided 70-14 beatdown against Army in the Armed Forced Bowl earlier this month.
“We'd like to thank Coach Applewhite and his family for their commitment to the success of the Houston Football program over the last four seasons including the last two as our head coach,” Houston Vice President for Athletics Chris Pezman said in the release. "After a thorough evaluation of our Football program, it is my assessment our future opportunities for success are better addressed by making this very difficult decision now.
Applewhite spent four seasons in total at Houston, serving as offensive coordinator in 2015 and 2016.
According to ESPN, the school will owe Applewhite a $1.95 million buyout.
The Cougars will now be looking to replace a big chunk of their coaching staff. Offensive coordinator Kendal Briles took a similar position at Florida State and defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio was fired before the end of the regular season.
Houston stormed out of the gate this season, starting the year 7-1 and jumping into the AP rankings for the first time under Applewhite. But the Cougars suffered major injuries, most notably to All-American defensive tackle Ed Oliver and quarterback D’Eriq King and lost four of their last five games to finish 8-5.
The search for a new coach is already underway, with multiple outlets reporting West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen as a name that tops Houston’s wish list.
“While the immediate future may be challenging, our future at UH is very bright,” Pezman said. We've made many sizable improvements over the past five years, and I look forward to enhancing our future success through the hiring of our next head coach.”