Beginning his first season as the Cougars' defensive coordinator is veteran coach John Skladany. Skladany-who also will coach the UH safeties-comes to Houston after spending the 2007 season with Conference USA rival UCF.
Prior to UCF, he spent the 10 years at Iowa State as the Cyclones defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. While Skladany was at Iowa State, the Cyclones played in five bowl games.
In 2005, Iowa State allowed just 10 rushing touchdowns, a school-record low. The defense held opponents to 19.2 points a game, the lowest Iowa State total since 1980. For the fourth time in five years, Skladany's unit was ranked in the top half of the Big 12 Conference in total defense. The Cyclones paced the Big 12 and ranked seventh nationally, forcing 35 turnovers.
Following the regular season, a pair of Skladany's players, nose guard Nick Leaders and cornerback LaMarcus Hicks, were named to the All-Big 12 First Team. Middle linebacker Tim Dobbins, the league defensive newcomer of the year in 2004, defensive tackle Brent Curvey and safety Steve Paris all garnered second-team all-league recognition.
Under Skladany's leadership, the Cyclones allowed just 139.2 yards per game on the ground in 2004. Defensive back Ellis Hobbs, who currently plays for New England in the National Football League, earned All-Big 12 First Team honors and the defensive MVP award in the Cyclones' victory over Miami (Ohio) in the Independence Bowl.
Several of Skladany's players at Iowa State moved on to the NFL ranks, including Reggie Hayward (Jacksonville) and Jordan Carstens (Carolina).
Iowa State participated in the Humanitarian Bowl in 2002 after playing in the Independence Bowl the previous year. Hayward was a member of the Cyclones' 2000 squad that defeated Pittsburgh in the Insight.com Bowl.
Skladany's defense lost seven starters from the 2000 unit, but his 2001 defenders recorded Iowa State's best total defensive numbers since 1992. The defense dropped its yards allowed per game by 60 and shutout a pair of opponents in a single year for the first time since 1978. Carstens earned the first of two-straight All-Big 12 First Team honors in 2001. In 2003, defensive end Jason Berryman was the Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year. Following the 2005 campaign, linebacker Alvin Bowen was a first-team all-conference pick.
Before working at Iowa State, Skladany was on the staff at Colorado State. The Rams won Western Athletic Conference titles in 1994 and 1995 with Skladany coaching the defensive line. He coached Brady Smith, the 1995 WAC Defensive Player of the Year. The defensive lineman led the nation in sacks and tackles that season. Smith spent 10 years in the NFL with Atlanta.
In both 1994 and 1995, the Rams made Holiday Bowl appearances. Skladany came to Colorado State after two years as the defensive backs coach at Northern Arizona (1990-92) and one season coaching the Lumberjack defensive line.
Skladany coached at Ohio from 1985-89, serving as the secondary coach for three years and then taking over the defensive coordinator duties (1988-89). He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Ohio in 1976. He also coached at Maine (1981-84) and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (1980) after two years at Utica High School in Ohio.
The Haverhill, Mass., native played at Central Connecticut State, earning his bachelor's degree in 1972. The defensive lineman had free agent tryouts with the New England Patriots in 1972 and the Washington Redskins in 1973. Skladany spent 1974 with the World Football League's Birmingham Americans and played for the Ottawa Roughriders of the Canadian Football League the following exhibition season.
He owns a master's degree from Ohio. Skladany and his wife, Sharon, have two daughters: Laura and Stephanie.