Over the weekend, I had occasion to remember a lunch Coach Tony Levine provided to thank faculty and staff for their assistance in his recruiting process. He hosted us in the staff room, which had recruiting boards up on all the walls. As we ate our lunch, he talked us through the boards and what they signified about how the team identified priorities and where each recruit stood in the process. It was a nice gesture (I thought Tony was a pretty nice guy, and he was helpful to me in writing my book), and very informative.
What I remembered, especially, was that this meeting was in the spring of 2014, and the big news that Tony got to let us in on was that the Cougars would be announcing that high-school quarterback Ben Hicks out of Waco had committed to come to Houston. He would be the quarterback of the future, behind second-year starter John O’Korn.
It didn’t work out quite like that. In the 2014 season, the offense under O’Korn sputtered, and they ended up bringing Greg Ward, Jr., in from wide receiver to play quarterback. And even that wasn’t enough. Even though the Cougars ended up with a winning record and a minor bowl invitation, Houston fired Levine. I ended up sitting in a big room at the stadium on a rainy day in December of 2014 when Tom Herman was introduced as the new Houston coach.
When Levine left, O’Korn transferred to Michigan, where he’s the backup quarterback on Jim Harbaugh’s team. Levine is now an assistant coach at Western Kentucky. And, you might have heard, Ben Hicks wound up playing for SMU, and they upset Tom Herman’s Cougars on Saturday.