Major Applewhite has been fired by the Houston Cougars, as the team now looks for a new head coach. Pictured: Head coach Major Applewhite of the Houston Cougars looks on during the first half against the Navy Midshipmen at Navy-Marines Memorial Stadium on October 20, 2018 in Annapolis, Maryland. Getty Images/Will Newton

The Houston Cougars have opted to move on without Major Applewhite, dismissing the former Texas Longhorns quarterback after piling up a 15-11 record in two-plus seasons.

"After a thorough evaluation of our football program, it is my assessment our future opportunities for success are better addressed by making this very difficult decision now," athletic director Chris Pezman said of the move.

Applewhite was actually part of the football program for four years and ended up being the head coach for the last two years. He took over the head coaching position when Tom Herman moved to the Texas Longhorns, CBS Sports reported.

When Applewhite took over, he steered the Cougars to a 7-5 record in his first year and then 8-5 this past season. Apparently not satisfied, Houston now starts its search for a new head coach fit to lead their football program.

So far, there are several names mentioned to succeed Applewhite. The list includes Dana Holgorsen, Kliff Kingsbury and Lane Kiffin.

West Virginia coach Holgorsen is seen as perhaps one of the long shots to take over the Cougars football program. He is a Power Five coach with an established program so it initially makes little sense to see him take over a Group of Five teams. But then again, luring someone like him can be done in different ways.

According to Football Scoop, some influential Houston boosters could entice Holgorsen to return back to Houston. Back in 2008-09, he was the Cougars' offensive coordinator, and the issues tied up to a contract extension could be the opening Houston may need to make it happen.

If not Holgorsen, Kingsbury looms as another option. He, too, is no stranger to Houston, being part of the coaching staff from 2008-11 under coach Kevin Sumlin. A head coaching position could entice the 39-year-old offensive coordinator, who signed to join USC's staff as an assistant. He was fired last month by Texas Tech and has since been linked to several NFL or college coaching jobs, Yardbarker said.

There are two other names in play for the Cougars head coaching vacancy. They are Kiffin and Neal Brown.

Kiffin is seen as someone who will eventually land a bigger coaching gig and going to the Group of Five is believed to be the best route to do so. For his part, Brown could be the guy to help Houston get a better record. He has posted double-digit wins in three straight years at the Sun Belt power and won three straight bowl games in the process. There are, however, concerns on his long-term viability, CBS Sports suggested.