The Houston Cougars returned to their past, hoping for a successful future in the Big 12 Conference.

The University of Houston has named the reigning two-time American Athletic Conference Coach of the Year, Tulane’s Willie Fritz, as the program’s 16th head coach since 1946.

Fritz, 63, heads west on Interstate 10 from New Orleans, where he led the Green Wave to a 54-46 record and back-to-back New Year’s Six bowls. The UH job is Fritz’s first with a Power Five conference school.

Fritz takes over a program left behind by Dana Holgorsen, who was let go after a 4-8 Big 12 debut season.

So, what do the Cougars players, students, alums, and fans get in Fritz? Someone with success and history in Texas.

Fritz’ career, including Lone Star stops

Tulane head coach Willie Fritz watches from the sidelines during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Houston, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016, in Houston.AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith

Fritz, a defensive-minded coach, saw playing time collegiately at Pittsburg State in his native Kansas before transitioning to assisting the coaching staff in 1982.

After assisting at the high school level for a year, his first Texas experience began in 1984 when he was a graduate assistant at Sam Houston State. After two years, he took an assistant’s role at Willis High School in Conroe ISD for one year.

After returning to Kansas, he came back to the Bearkats program in 1991, coaching defensive backs and special teams.

By 1993, Fritz earned his first head coaching job with Blinn College, where he spent four seasons and produced a 39-5-1 record. For his success, he was inducted into the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Hall of Fame.

His longest head coaching tenure to date was from 1997 to 2009 at Central Missouri, a school his father also coached.

Fritz returned to Huntsville one more time to take the Bearkats’ head coaching job from 2010 to 2013, where he earned his biggest success up to that point. Sam Houston State earned back-to-back trips to the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) title game in 2011 and 2012.

Georgia Southern came calling before the 2014 season and offered Fritz his first job at the Football Bowl Subdivision. He debuted to a 9-3 overall record and an undefeated mark in conference play.

2015 would be his last season at Georgia Southern. Tulane hired Fritz before that season ended, debuting with the Green Wave in 2016.

Before 2023, Fritz landed Tulane four bowl-eligible seasons, including a thrilling victory in the Cotton Bowl after the 2022 season, the program’s first major bowl game in 83 years.

Fritz is 208-115 in his career.

Fritz’s Green Wave vs. UH

Since his 2016 hiring, Fritz’s Tulane team went 3-5 against the University of Houston.

Fritz’s signature win vs. UH could arguably be the final Tulane-Houston game in the AAC on Sept. 30, 2022.

The Green Wave snuffed out a Cougars comeback in a 27-24 overtime win at TDECU Stadium.

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