Big 12 News

New Houston Coach Willie Fritz Experienced at Building Winners

Mar 9, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Cougars football head coach Willie Fritz addresses the crowd before the game against the Kansas Jayhawks at Fertitta Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

LAS VEGAS — Everywhere Willie Fritz has coached, he’s won. He believes nothing will be different as he takes over in his first year with the Houston Cougars.

The question is how long will it take? Fritz has been through this before. He said on Wednesday at Big 12 Media Days that this will be the sixth football program he’s led as a head coach. He’s learned a few things.

It’s a two-pronged approach based on a foundation of experience and flexibility.


“You have some non-negotiables of how you do things with your football program, and then you’ve got to do a good job learning about the University of Houston and learning that what works in Houston might not necessarily work at other places I’ve been,” he said. “Right now, I’m really trying to promote our strengths.”

Fritz knows how to get the most out of players, no matter the level. He is one of the most accomplished coaches in the country. He’s won 208 NCAA games, 39 junior college games, two NJCAA national titles at Blinn (Texas) College, seven conference championships, and was 2022 national coach of the year.

While he was most recently at Tulane, he’s also coached at Georgia Southern, Sam Houston, and Central Missouri, which is a Division II school.

Fritz worked the transfer portal this offseason, but he believes in building a foundation in recruiting prep players and believes he’s in the perfect place to build a winner.


“I think Houston has the greatest recruiting in the nation,” Fritz said.

Houston enters its second season in the Big 12, along with BYU, UCF and Cincinnati. All four joined last July as part of league expansion. Oklahoma and Texas moved to the SEC on July 1. Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah officially join the league in August.

Houston went 4-8 in 2023 with a 2-7 record in the Big 12. The Cougars fired coach Dana Holgorsen.

Houston is still looking for its footing in the Big 12. Quarterback Donovan Smith returns, one of four returning starters on offense. He threw for 2,801 yards, but Fritz likes to run the ball. Smith is a good fit there, too. Where the Cougars need development fast is the offensive line.

The transfer portal was hard on the defense, as there are only two returning starters. The Cougars will lean on safety A.J. Haulcy and linebacker Jamal Morris as they transition to a 3-4 scheme. Fritz and the staff worked the transfer portal to execute the flip faster, including importing three former Tulane players.


The Cougars host UNLV on Aug. 31 to open non-conference, followed by a trip to Oklahoma on Sept. 7 and a home game with Rice on Sept. 14.

Houston’s Big 12 schedule starts at Cincinnati on Sept. 21, and then the Cougars host Iowa State on Sept. 28.

Houston is at TCU on Oct. 4 and, after a bye week, at Kansas on Oct. 19. The Cougars then host Utah on Oct. 26.

The Cougars host Kansas State on Nov. 2, followed by a trip to Arizona on Nov. 15. After hosting Baylor on Nov. 23, Houston ends the regular season at BYU on Nov. 30.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.

Most Popular

To Top