The University of Houston Magazine

Getting Defensive: Brian Stewart Hoping 3-4 Adds Up to Frustrated Opponents

New Coach Fields ‘Fast, Furious’ Defenders.

by Alisa Bauer

Brian Stewart

Led by Heisman-candidate Case Keenum, the University of Houston Cougars are celebrated for a high-flying offense that ranks among the best in the nation. Now, with first-year defensive coordinator Brian Stewart, the Coogs want to prevent opponents from demonstrating similar firepower.

Stewart, who comes to Houston after an eight-year coaching career in the NFL, including a two year stint as the defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys, immediately saw a major advantage for the Cougars as he began reviewing past game films.

“Those cats can run!” Stewart said. “We’re not big, but we can move. That’s exciting. We have the chance to outrun most people, and that’s where the advantage comes to us as we add more linebackers. We’re fast, and we’re furious.”

This comes as comforting news to the Cougar faithful as UH unveils its version of the 3-4 defense this season. The Cougars are running a defense that thrives on its personnel being quick and explosive rather than big and bulky.

Known as a 3-4 specialist, Stewart was brought into the defensive coordinator role by head coach Kevin Sumlin. He saw firsthand the rampant use of the 3-4 in the professional game and now is one of the few pioneers in collegiate football to bring it back.

With a 3-4 pattern now in place, assembling a crew of several 330-pound linemen is not nearly as urgent as it once was. “Speed is key,” Stewart said, “and speed we’ve got.”

Phill Hansel 1925-2010

by Shawn Lindsey

Phill Hansel Long touted as the most influential man in Cougar swimming and diving, former UH head coach Phill Hansel died Aug. 6. The 85-year-old was considered the father of Cougar swimming and diving for assembling the university’s first team and heading the program from 1957–1996. Hansel guided the Cougars to more than 70 dual meet wins and ten top-20 finishes at the AIAW \ and NCAA Championships. He also was a three-time recipient of the Southwest Conference Swimming and Diving Coach of the Year award.

Hansel managed the U.S. Swimming Team in 1992 that won 27 medals, 11 of which were gold at the Barcelona Olympic Games. He also coached the Singapore Olympic Team in 1984 and was an assistant in 1988.

Hansel’s legacy of success continues at UH. The 2009–2010 season was another success for the UH swimming and diving program. Diving has finished in the top 25 in nine of the last 10 seasons. Five Cougars took home individual titles and the Houston divers took home top honors in all three events of the Conference USA Championships. The UH team is among the youngest in Conference USA, graduating only one senior last season, which gives the Cougars plenty of ammo for 2010–2011.