Anthony Michael "Tony" Levine (born October 28, 1972) is an American football coach who is the special teams coordinator and tight ends coach for the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers football team. He used to be the head coach for the Houston Cougars football team.

A walk-on wide receiver at Minnesota under Jim Wacker, Levine became a three-year starter and was twice named to the Academic All-Big Ten team. After his graduation from Minnesota, Levine played arena football for the Minnesota Fighting Pike in 1996.[2] Before coming to Houston, the St. Paul native spent time at Texas State, Auburn, Louisiana Tech, Louisville and the NFL's Carolina Panthers.

Playing career

Early life and college career

Tony Levine was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota on October 28, 1972 to Marvin and Harriet Levine.[3] His father, Marvin Levine, worked as a certified public accountant and played big-band trumpet. His mother, Harriet, was a high school guidance counselor. Both maternal and paternal grandmothers of Tony Levine were pianists.

Attending Highland Park High School in Saint Paul, Levine was a member of the marching band, where he excelled at saxophone. He became a two-time musical high school All-American.[3]

As a high school junior, he joined the football team for the first time, and played wide receiver. His senior year, Levine was chosen for the Minnesota All-State team. He graduated in 1991. While offered musical scholarships to the University of Rochester, Indiana University, University of North Texas and University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire, he did not pursue a musical degree.[3]

In football, Levine was recruited by South Dakota State and Hamline, but received no Division I-A scholarships.[3] However, he received a call from a Minnesota assistant, Dave Spiegler, to invite him to walk-on, which he accepted.[3][4] Levine paid for his first two years at Minnesota independently.[5] During the second game of the 1993 season against Indiana State, Levine substituted for injured teammate Omar Douglas. In that game, he caught seven passes for 121 yards. Head coach Jim Wacker then offered Levine a scholarship, and eventually made Levine a starter for the team in the 1994 and 1995 seasons.

Professional career

After finishing his career at Minnesota, Levine joined the Minnesota Fighting Pike of the Arena Football League. However, his professional career only lasted the 1996 season, as the team folded thereafter. In his season with the Fighting Pike, he received 8 passes for a total of 83 yards and 1 touchdown.[1]

Coaching career

Texas State

In 1996 Levine began his career as a coach, when he returned to his high school alma mater, Highland Park High School. He served as head coach of the freshmen team before he departed for Texas for a position at Texas State. During his time there, Levine rented an apartment at Pennington Funeral Home in Downtown San Marcos upon learning of the location from head coach Bob DeBesse.[6] His monthly salary consisted of $976.00, and he did not own an automobile. Levine walked approximately one mile to campus each day. He simultaneously attended classes as a student, and earned a master's degree in physical education from the university in 1999.

One of Levine's pupils at Texas State was Travis Bush whom he would later hire as an assistant when he became head coach at Houston.[4]


His next career move was to move to Auburn. Similar to his time spent at Texas State, Tony Levine attended classes at the university, and eventually earned a degree at Auburn as an Educational specialist in adult education in 2003.

He later held coaching positions at Louisiana Tech, Louisville and the NFL's Carolina Panthers before becoming special teams coordinator and then head coach at Houston.


Tony Levine was hired by Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin to be the special teams coordinator in 2008. During his time in this position, Houston achieved great success, and finished the 2011 season undefeated in regular season play.

He was named interim head football coach of the Cougars after Sumlin left for Texas A&M; however, on December 21—eleven days before the Cougars were due to play in the 2012 TicketCity Bowl—Houston dropped the "interim" from Levine's title and formally named him as the school's 12th head coach partly because of Levine's commitment to continuity. The Cougars then defeated No. 22 Penn State in the TicketCity Bowl.[7][8][9] Houston finished No. 14 in the Coaches Poll for 2011.

Levine was relieved after three seasons at Houston on December 8, 2014 with an overall record of 21-17. Levine was let go due to Houston's inability to win games they should. On what seemed to be a promising year, the University of Houston lost its inaugural game in TDECU stadium to UTSA 7-27. A disappointment compounded by the loss in the opening game to Texas State 13-30 two years prior.[10]

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
Houston Cougars (Conference USA) (2011–2012)
2011 Houston 1–0[note 1] 0–0[note 1] 1st (West) W TicketCity[note 1] 14 18
2012 Houston 5–7 4–4 T-3rd (West)
Houston Cougars (American Athletic Conference) (2013–2014)
2013 Houston 8–5 5–3 4th L BBVA Compass
2014 Houston 7–5 5–3 T–4th Armed Forces[note 2]
Houston: 21–17 14–10
Total: 21–17
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title


  1. ^ a b c Levine coached the 2012 TicketCity Bowl after head coach Kevin Sumlin resigned with a 12–1 (8–0 C-USA) record.
  2. ^ David Gibbs coached the 2015 Armed Forces Bowl after Levine was fired.


  1. ^ a b "Tony Levine". ArenaFan. Retrieved 2012-10-16. 
  2. ^ Todd Zolecki (May 10, 1996). "Levine extends football career with Minnesota Fighting Pike". Minnesota Daily. Retrieved August 17, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Jones, David (2011-12-30). "Penn State will face jazzy Houston Cougars offense and their jazz-loving new coach Tony Levine". The Patriot-News. Retrieved 2012-10-17. 
  4. ^ a b Valderas, Andrew (October 18, 2013). "Levine travels lengthy path to UH's top job". The Daily Cougar. Retrieved October 18, 2013. 
  5. ^ Walters, Charley (2012-04-07). "Charley Walters: Notre Dame's Harrison Smith fits Vikings' needs". St. Paul Pioneer Press. Retrieved 2012-10-15. 
  6. ^ Duarte, Joseph (2012-08-28). "UH coach Levine's old home was deathly quiet". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2012-10-30. 
  7. ^ Berman, Mark. Kevin Sumlin is Leaving the University of Houston. KRIV, 2011-12-10.
  8. ^ Khan, Sam Jr. Sumlin leaves post as UH head coach. Houston Chronicle, 2011-12-10.
  9. ^ Source: Kevin Sumlin to coach A&M. ESPN, 2011-12-10.
  10. ^

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