The Houston Cougars Football program seemed close to a hire for their head coaching position on Wednesday morning, but their reported man wasn't their eventual hire. That distinction went to an internal candidate, offensive coordinator Major Applewhite, on Thursday. The option was a safe choice, but also the wrong one.

Better candidates

Applewhite's offense was one of the best in the country this season, as Houston ranked 15th in passing and 21st in scoring. A lot of that can be attributed to new Texas coach Tom Herman, though. Applewhite previously served as co-offensive coordinator for the Longhorns himself, but was never met with any sort of success there.

Houston had a lot of good options to take over the program. Lane Kiffin has struggled as a head coach in the past, but has regained some mojo as offensive coordinator at Alabama. Les Miles won a national championship at LSU before being dumped this season, and at the very least, he could've lent credibility to Houston on the recruiting trail.

There's also a sense that defensive coordinator Todd Orlando was wronged in some way in this process. After Herman bolted Houston, Orlando was slated to serve as the interim coach of the Cougars for their bowl game, which they're in the midst of preparations for. Now, Orlando will have to step back and allow Applewhite to finish those preparations, putting Orlando back at square one.

Integrity problem

Lack of success on the field isn't the only problem Applewhite had while he was at Texas. In 2013, Applewhite admitted to having an inappropriate relationship with a student dating back to the 2009 Fiesta Bowl. The controversy resulted in Applewhite's pay being frozen for a year, and Applewhite being forced to undergo counseling.

Everyone makes mistakes, and Applewhite's mistake is believed to have been consensual. But after sexual abuse scandals at Penn State and Baylor, college football coaches are under a bright light to see how they handle issues related to sexual activity at the student-level; Applewhite opens up Houston to a lot of questions and second-guessing due to his wrongful prior misconduct.

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