Dana Holgorsen re-enters Cougars country as UH questioned over process

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ABC13's Nick Natario speaks to UH students who overall expressed excitement for new Cougars head football coach Dana Holgorsen.

University of Houston fans got their first look at their new head football coach in red Thursday.

Dana Holgorsen returns to UH after serving as a coordinator a decade ago.

"It's great to be home," Holgorsen told the crowd. "It's great to be home."

UH gave Holgorsen a five-year, $20 million contract. It includes incentives for players' grades and bowl game appearances.

The school offered the contract just days after parting ways with Major Applewhite.

"We're not doing a search," University of Houston chairman Tilman Fertitta told the crowd. "We're getting one of our own, who's not looking for their next job."

But it's the lack of a search that has some angry. During the announcement, one man questioned why the school wasted little time. It's a disruption that prompted leaders to respond.

"I can tell you this, at the University of Houston, we have a color-blind process, and if we decide to go after somebody, we go after them," Fertitta said. "I don't care if they're white or black or Chinese or Indian."

It was an answer the man who questioned the process didn't buy.

"How could you interview or talk to multiple candidates in three days?" Kevin Simms asked. "In three days?"

Simms is part of the African-American Coaches Association. Now that the search is over, he wants the school to say who it interviewed.

"You don't hire nobody in three days," Simms said. "That's just good ol' boy, good ole fashioned kiss my butt, when most of your players are going to be African-American on the field."

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School leaders, however, wouldn't reveal candidates because they say it could jeopardize their current jobs.

"We interviewed a spectrum of candidates of all diversities," UH Athletic Director Chris Pezman said. "It was not just one person, one moment."

"I think it's a good call," UH student Josh Mica said. "Holgorsen used to coach for UH, so it's promising."

"The university has had coaches come and use this as a springboard, but I see him being here for the long term," UH alum Jonathan Miles said.

The expectations from school leaders are high as well. UH President Renu Khator recently said she wants a coach to win 10 games, and an 8-4 record would get you fired.

During his eight years at West Virginia, Holgorsen only won 10 games once. Last season, he finished 8-4.

ABC13 Eyewitness News asked him if he can live up to the university's goals.

"I don't want to go somewhere that doesn't have those expectations," Holgorsen said. "I don't."

The Cougars won eight games last year. Holgorsen said he wants to improve on that.

"My goal, which is the only thing I can affect, is to win a championship," Holgorsen told the crowd. "A conference championship. That's the goal."

And if he doesn't meet that goal?

"I don't know. I mean, that's just a definition," Khator said. "If he can tell me how he made it nationally relevant without it, I'm willing to listen."

Follow Nick Natario on Twitter and Facebook.

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