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Q&A with Houston assistant Tony Levine

Wednesday May 12,2010 Staff

Tony Levine is entering his third season as the special teams coordinator/inside receivers/tight ends coach at the University of Houston. In addition, he was promoted to assistant head coach this spring. In 2009 the Cougars offense ranked 1st nationally in scoring offense (42.2 ppg), total offense (563.4 ypg) and passing offense (433.7 ypg). Inside receivers James Cleveland (104 rec, 1,214 yds) and Tyron Carrier (91 rec, 1,029 yds) both surpassed the 1,000 yard mark, while tight end Fendi Onobun was a 6th round draft pick of the St. Louis Rams. In the kicking game, the Cougars tied an NCAA record in 2009 by returning five kick-offs for touchdowns, while kicker Matt Hogan was named a First Team Freshman All-American by The Sporting News. Levine has also coached at Southwest Texas, Auburn, Louisiana Tech, Louisville, and with the Carolina Panthers.

Outside of work, what is the one thing you really enjoy about living in Houston, TX?

"Houston is the 4th-largest city in the country so naturally there is a lot to do. The Astros, Rockets, Texans...the month-long Rodeo in the spring, the wide variety of food, and the warm weather make Houston a great place to live."

Houston assistant Tony Levine

You have coached at Auburn, Louisville, Louisiana Tech, Southwest Texas State, the Carolina Panthers and Houston. If you had to pinpoint the one year where you had the most fun in coaching, which year would it be?

"It would probably be this past season in Houston. We had a great group of kids...we were very young. And we had -- and still have -- a great coaching staff with great chemistry. We had 10 wins and won some tough non-conference games. We were undefeated at home and won a couple of road games in the 4th quarter. It was definitely a fun season."

What is something you will certainly harp on during August practice with your special teams?

"This August we will work more than we ever have on our kick-off return plan versus pooch kicks and squib kicks. We returned five kick-offs for touchdowns last season, and our returner Tyron Carrier is back this season, so I anticipate having to field a lot of unconventional kicks."

What is something that you really like that your head coach implements at practice?

"Coaches that watch us practice always comment on the speed and tempo of our practice. That starts with Coach Sumlin. Our players practice at the pace that they play at in games. We are a no-huddle offense, so obviously we do not huddle in practice. Because of that we typically get a total of 70 7-on-7 and team plays in 30 minutes. Our practice tempo is the reason that we don't have to condition our players during practice, and I think it's pretty unique to what we do."

Can you tell us something about the work schedule in the NFL that is different in college coaching?

"Hours are hours, but the NFL is so much more business-like than college. The college atmosphere seems much more family-oriented. At Bank of America Stadium in Carolina, my family had to pass through three different security checkpoints to get to my office. The interaction between my family and our players at Houston is something I appreciate as well."

How long is your drive from your house to work? ESPN Radio, local sports radio, or music?

"My commute is 30 minutes. It's a little bit different from the 3-6 minute drive I had at Auburn or Louisiana Tech. Most of the time instead of music I'm thinking about what needs to get accomplished during the day. I am not a talk radio guy, that's for sure. Sometimes I'll listen to a little country music."

In season, which day of the week besides Saturday do you look forward to the most?

"I definitely enjoy Thursdays because that is the day that I get to see my wife and kids the most. At the office, I really like Sundays. I enjoy reviewing the film of yesterday's game and seeing our players doing what we've taught them and executing our game plan. I'm also always anxious to start watching video of our upcoming opponent. I like knowing immediately what the challenges are for the week, and what we have to do to be successful."

Everyone has been around a GA that busts his tail. As a full-time coach, who is the best GA you have ever worked with? Why was he so good to work with?

"There have been a number of GA's that I have so much respect for, so it's hard to single out one guy. The GA's that are proactive, the guys that have already done something before you ask...those guys are so valuable, and I think become excellent full time coaches."