Thurmond named interim coach after Briles bolts for Baylor

Updated: November 28, 2007, 7:23 PM ET
Associated Press

HOUSTON -- Houston assistant Chris Thurmond was named the interim coach of the Cougars on Wednesday, a few hours after Art Briles accepted an offer to become the coach at Baylor.

Thurmond, 54, will coach Houston through the Texas Bowl on Dec. 28 while the school searches for Briles' successor. Thurmond has spent the past two seasons as Houston's recruiting coordinator and assistant coach in charge of cornerbacks.

"Right now, I have been designated as the guy to keep the team together, and that's what we'll do," Thurmond said.

Briles, who turns 52 on Monday, went 34-28 at Houston and led the Cougars to the Conference USA championship last season. He had four years left on his Houston contract with a base salary of $900,000 annually.

Houston athletics director Dave Maggard said he was launching a national search to find a permanent replacement.

"There is no set timetable," Maggard said. "It will be as quickly as we can thoroughly get the job done."

Maggard named no candidates specifically, but said he wasn't necessarily seeking a coach who taught an offense similar to Briles' fast-paced, pass-oriented system.

"Anybody will be considered," he said. "This job has not been promised to anyone. This job is absolutely wide open."

Maggard met with Briles' assistants on Wednesday and didn't know yet how many would follow Briles to Waco.

"I am not going to be in judgment if someone says, 'I am leaving because this is a career situation for me and I feel like I need to do this," Maggard said. "If that is the case, then that's the case."

Briles met with his players early Wednesday afternoon to tell them he was leaving.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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