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Houston promotes Major Applewhite to head coach

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Howard thinks Applewhite is great hire for Houston (0:43)

Desmond Howard explains why he feels that Major Applewhite getting promoted to the head coaching position for Houston football is great for the team. (0:43)

The Houston Cougars have hired offensive coordinator Major Applewhite to succeed Tom Herman as the team's new head coach, it was announced Friday.

Sources told ESPN's Sam Khan Jr. that Applewhite has received a five-year contract. The university has scheduled a news conference for 1 p.m. CT Monday.

"When we set out on our search for the new leader of our football program, we wanted a coach with great integrity who believed in our mission and truly believed in our student-athlete experience," athletic director Hunter Yurachek said in a statement. "We had our sights set on a focused competitor who has demonstrated success and possesses a deep connection to college and high school football in the great state of Texas.

"As this process was completed, it was clearly evident the only individual to offer our position to was Major Applewhite and he was indeed the right man to lead our program."

Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, Houston defensive coordinator Todd Orlando, former LSU coach Les Miles and Oklahoma offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley also were reported candidates for the job.

Applewhite will take over the job immediately, coaching the Cougars against San Diego State in the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 17. Orlando, who has been serving as the interim coach since Herman accepted the Texas job on Nov. 26, will remain as defensive coordinator.

A source told ESPN on Thursday that the university wanted to require an excessive buyout so the next coach can't leave after a couple of seasons without paying a substantial penalty. Herman left after going 22-4 with the Cougars over two seasons.

"My family and I are excited and honored to have the opportunity to lead such a tradition rich program and continue our lives in one of the greatest cities is the nation, a city we love," Applewhite said. "The student-athletes truly are the backbone of every great program and as they've demonstrated over the past few years, we have an exceptional group of young men in our program, and we'll continue to add men with great character and a competitive drive in our recruiting."

Applewhite, who joined Houston in 2015, combined with Herman to lead one of the nation's best offenses. The Cougars ranked 15th nationally in passing offense (301.9 yards per game) and 21st in scoring (38 points per game) this season. In addition, they averaged 157 yards rushing in 2016.

Overall, Houston gained more than 500 yards in a game on 11 occasions over the past two seasons.

"It's no coincidence that the success UH football has achieved over the past two seasons happened with Major Applewhite running our offense," university president Renu Khator said in a statement. "His energy and creativity are responsible for one of the most explosive passing games in college football and I am confident that as our head coach he will continue our upward trajectory as a nationally relevant athletics program."

Prior to joining the Cougars, the 38-year-old former Texas quarterback served seven years as an assistant at his alma mater. He was Texas' co-offensive coordinator in his last four seasons in Austin after serving as assistant head coach in his first three years on the Longhorns' staff. He was out of coaching for one season prior to joining the Cougars.

Applewhite was Alabama's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2007. He also coached at Syracuse and Rice.