Tony Levine is in his third season as the head coach at the University of Houston Football.
Introduced as the 12th head coach in Houston history on Dec. 22, 2011, Levine made an emphatic national statement in his opening game as the UH head coach, belting No. 22 Penn State, 30-14, in the 2012 TicketCity Bowl.
Levine took over at UH two weeks before that Jan. 2 bowl contest in Dallas and unveiled a prepared squad that held Penn State to just two scores and produced a Cotton Bowl Stadium record 532 yards of passing vs. the nation's No. 4-ranked pass defense. The victory helped UH to a school-record 13th win (tops in the nation) and first January bowl victory since the 1979 campaign. Levine led the Cougars to an end-of-season national ranking for the first time since 1990 and was the first UH head coach to open his career with a win vs. a nationally-ranked opponent since Harold Lahar in 1957.
The St. Paul, Minn., native directed Houston in its final season of play in Conference USA and led the team's transition into The American Athletic Conference in 2013. Levine led Houston to its 16th eight-win season in program history as it opened the season 5-0 for just the fifth time in program history. UH led the nation with a +25 turnover margin and 43 turnovers gained.
Seven players received 2013 postseason honors from The American including freshman Demarcus Ayers being named the league's Co-Special Teams Player of the Year and John O'Korn being named Rookie of the Year.
While 2012 was Levine's first full season as head coach, he was no stranger to Houston. The former collegiate wide receiver spent the four seasons before his promotion on the UH staff, including his final two as assistant head coach.
The 41-year old has spent 19 years in the coaching ranks, including stints at all levels of football, from a high school stop in his home state of Minnesota, to a two-year stop with the Carolina Panthers of the NFL.
The 2012 season saw 13 Houston players earn All-Conference USA honors and Trevon Stewart named to the FWAA Freshman All-American team. Three Houston players - D.J. Hayden (interceptions per game), Richie Leone (punting average) and Phillip Steward (sacks) led the Conference in their respective categories. Leone tied the Houston single-season record with an average of 45.5 yards per punt while Matt Hogan set the Conference USA career scoring record with 405 points.
In November 2011, CBSSports.com's Bruce Feldman named Levine one of the nation's 10 fastest-rising assistant coaches.
During Levine's tenure at UH, the special teams units has reached unprecedented heights, highlighted by 20 blocked kicks, nine kickoff returns for touchdowns and six forced turnovers. Those groups also have tied/broken seven NCAA records and set 11 school marks.
From 2008-11, the eight kickoff returns for touchdowns were the second most by any FBS school over the time period, while the 16 blocked kicks ranked among the national leaders during that same period.
Houston has been explosive as a return unit during Levine's tenure and had three returns for scores in 2011, including Tyron Carrier's seventh career kickoff return for a score (tied an NCAA record) and two punt return scores by two different returners in the road win at Tulane. Hogan also broke the NCAA record with 78 consecutive extra points made in a season.
The 2010 season saw the Cougars return a punt, kickoff and a blocked field goal for touchdowns. Punt returner Patrick Edwards finished seventh in the nation and first in C-USA with a 15.4 yard per return average, while Houston finished ninth nationally with a 14.3 yard per return mark. Wesley Scourten finished the 2010 season with five blocked kicks and eight for his career -- both school records -- while Carrier brought his career kickoff return touchdown total to six before adding No. 7 in 2011
In 2009, Cleveland (1,214 yards) and Carrier (1,029 yards) each surpassed the 1,000-yard receiving mark, while tight end Fendi Onobun became a sixth-round draft pick of the NFL's St. Louis Rams. Onobun also tied an NCAA single-game record with two blocked PATs against C-USA foe Southern Miss, one of which led to a key defensive conversion in a 50-43 win.
Offensively, the Cougars ranked first nationally in total offense (563.4 ypg), passing offense (433.7 ypg) and scoring offense (42.2 ppg) in 2009.
Levine tutored Hogan, who was named a Freshman All-American by Sporting News and was a C-USA All-Freshman Special Teams selection. The Cougars also tied an NCAA record by returning five kickoffs for touchdowns and tied a school single-season mark with six blocked kicks.
In 2008, Levine coached tight end Mark Hafner to an All-Conference USA Second Team selection and career highs in catches (86), receiving yards (907) and touchdowns (11). Carrier was also named to the All-C-USA Second Team after catching 80 passes for 1,026 yards and nine touchdowns.
Statistically, the Cougar offense finished second in the country in both total offense (562.8 ypg) and passing (401.6 ypg) and 10th in scoring (40.6 ppg). Also under Levine, punter Chase Turner earned a spot on the All-C-USA Honorable Mention list after averaging 45.5 yards per punt. Turner's mark was a single-season school record, while the team's net punting average of 36.5 yards was also the highest in school history. The Cougars finished the season ranked 34th in the country in net punting, up from 114th (31.2) in 2007, prior to Levine's arrival.
Houston's kickoff coverage defense ranked 22nd nationally, yielding a mere 18.96 yards per return on 92 kickoffs, while the Cougars blocked five kicks (three field goals, two punts).
Before coming to Houston, Levine spent two seasons with the NFL's Carolina Panthers, serving as the assistant special teams and assistant strength and conditioning coach. While at Carolina, Levine coached one of the best specialist units in the NFL in kicker John Kasay, punter Jason Baker and long snapper Jason Kyle. In 2006, the Panthers led the NFC with a net punting average of 38.8 yards while Baker's 39.0 net punting average set a Panthers team record. Baker's 31 punts inside the 20 were also tops in the NFC, and he ranked second overall with a 45.7-yard gross average. Kasay produced his most accurate season as well in 2006, converting a career-best 88.9 percent of his field goals (24-of-27).
Prior to Carolina, Levine coached at the University of Louisville, where he played an integral role in the Cardinals' success for three seasons. During his stay in Louisville, the Cardinals posted an impressive 29-8 overall record, including an 11-1 record and a No. 6 national ranking in 2004.
Levine began as director of football operations at Louisville in 2003, where he was responsible for the overall day-to-day operation of the school's football program in coach Bobby Petrino's first year as head coach. In 2004 he was named special teams coordinator and outside linebackers coach and made an immediate impact on the field. Under Levine's tutelage, the Cardinals ranked near the top in Conference USA in almost all special teams statistics, while Louisville's defense finished 15th nationally in total defense, 18th in rush defense, 24th in scoring defense and 30th in pass defense.
Superlatives from his two seasons as special teams coach at Louisville included seven blocked kicks, three punt returns for touchdowns and an NCAA single-season record of 77 consecutive extra points by kicker Art Carmody. Carmody, a former walk-on, was also named First-Team All-Big East under Levine and went on to win the 2006 Lou Groza Award as the nation's top collegiate kicker. Carmody finished his playing career as the NCAA's all-time leading scorer for a kicker with 433 points.
As special teams coordinator at Louisiana Tech in 2002, Levine coached Josh Scobee, who earned All-WAC Second Team honors and was selected by Jacksonville in the 2004 NFL draft. Offensively, Louisiana Tech ranked 19th nationally in total offense (417.9 ypg) and 10th in passing (302.8 ypg).
Levine spent the 2000 and 2001 seasons working as the offensive graduate assistant at Auburn, where he coached the tight ends and worked closely with special teams. During those two seasons, the Tigers compiled a 16-9 overall record while winning back-to-back SEC West Division titles. Robert Johnson, Lorenzo Diamond and Cooper Wallace, three of the tight ends Levine worked with, went on to earn roster spots in the NFL.
Prior to Auburn, Levine worked as an assistant coach at Texas State, assisting with the wide receivers in 1997 before coaching the tight ends in 1998 and 1999. In addition to his coaching responsibilities, Levine served as co-recruiting coordinator at the end of the 1999 season. Levine began his coaching career in 1996 as an assistant coach and freshman head coach at Highland Park (Minn.) Senior High, his alma mater.
A walk-on at the University of Minnesota, Levine became a three-time letterwinner at wide receiver for the Gophers and was twice named to the Academic All-Big Ten Team.
In addition to earning a bachelor's degree in kinesiology with an emphasis in sports management from Minnesota, he also holds a master's degree in physical education from Texas State and an educational specialist degree in adult education from Auburn. His playing resume also includes one season as a wide receiver for the Minnesota Fighting Pike of the Arena Football League.
Levine and his wife, Erin, have three sons, Benjamin, Asher and Eli, and a daughter, Willa.