The Story of the 1976 Houston Cougars

In a new series, we’re taking a look at the teams that came out of nowhere to win their conference and shock the world. Or the ones that read too many of their press clippings and crapped the bed. Hope springs eternal in August, dream your dreams and let this series feed them or keep you up at night. Let’s start with those Houston Cougars from 1976, their first year in the Southwest Conference and spoiler alert; they won the whole damn thing.


Great stuff.
We are the sleeping giant waiting for a P5 invite. I have no doubt that we will be another Alabama given the chance. Given the chance means everything. Our exclusion from a P5 means everything.
1996 to…? How long will this scam continue? Shame on uta, atm & others for being cowards and being afraid of us.
Thank you for posting.


I remember the Arkansas game at Rice Stadium, we were in the Arkansas red zone over and over, but just couldn’t get to the endzone. That season was magical, I’ll never forget it.

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We played tcu in the dome that year. I was there for em all except the Florida game and the 2 games in Dallas.

Houston finished 2-8, losing eight straight at one point and prompting Yeoman chalk up the failure as a long, hard lesson learned in humility.

If I remember correctly, CBY redshirted every sr in 1975 so that they could play in the SWC in 76.


Can I smoke whatever you are smoking?

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Since the Houston area is the number one recruiting area in the country, it is valid to suppose that if we were in a P5 and begin climbing, that we could certainly be on par with them. In time.

Good team but not our best team. 1978 and 1979 were much better teams.

The SWC was down in 1976.

Hmmm. We had some guy name Wilson on defense and he was the best in the country.

I believe the SWC had 4 teams ranked that year. Hope the AAC has that kind of year this year.

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#4, #7, and #13. Only top 20 then. If top 25, we would have probably had another.

1978 had 9, 10, 11, and 19
1979 had 5, 8, 12,and 14

Football is supposed to be a sport where cowards can’t hide. uta, atm, ok and others surely contradict that belief. I do believe in karma. That day will only be sweeter.
I will add that every time you hear these same alums glorify their football programs remind them that cowardice never prevail. We will.

The top two programs in the SWC at the time were Texas and Arkansas. In 1976 both programs were down (although Arkansas beat us at Rice Stadium).

In 1979 both programs were very good. We beat Arkansas, who was ranked #4 in the nation at the time, up in Fayetteville. We lost to #8 Texas at home in the Dome.

In 1979, there were four teams from the SWC that finished the season ranked in the top 15. By conference, teams in the top 15 were as follows:

SWC - 4 teams
Big 8 - 2 teams
Big 10 - 2 teams
Pac 10 - 2 teams
Independents - 2 teams
SEC - 1 team
ACC - 1 team
WAC - 1 team

Look, I love the 1976 team but in my humble opinion the 1979 and 1978 teams were better. The SWC in 1979 was by far the best conference top to bottom in the nation.


You can also include the 1990 Team. To finish 10-1 with the uta, atm/ncaa sanctions is imo an amazing accomplishment.

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We rode student buses to Waco. After the game I convinced the driver to pull into a supermarket to pick up beer for the ride back. I looked and there was no beer. I asked the Manager and he said “Son, Waco is in a dry county there’s no alcohol anywhere”. I replied “No wonder you can’t win football games”. Happy but crappy ride back.

Best game was A&M at Rice. Aggies were #9 and when Whitley hit their RB with such force it felt like the stadium shook, the game was over. Actually, the key was Aggies bringing up their safeties to stop the run and Davis play action to Phea over and over killed them.

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I agree that Texas was down that year with Earl on the sidelines, but Arkansas, Tech and the Aggies were very good that year. That might have been the best Aggie defense ever that we whipped at Rice that year…Baylor was also picked over us that year but we made them our first SWC victim in Waco…

Don’t forget that TT wa picked to win their very first SWC championship and did in fact win a share. UH got the Cotton Bowl berth because we beat TT.

Tech was good and A&M was very good. Tech had this huge running back whose name escapes me. Royal and Broyles were retiring at Arkansas and Texas.

In 77, 78 and 79 the SWC was the best football conference on the planet. Those were good days.


From 1968 to the mid 80’s the SWC was the premier conference in the nation. It wasn’t until UT got half the conference on probation that the SWC imploded, killed by UT just like the B12 is being killed.




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