In February of 1994, Houston Cougars athletics was wrongfully convicted of being an afterthought, an outcast; the kid in class nobody liked. Politicians made a decision that would alter the course of Cougar athletics and Cougar fans for decades. When times were already bad, it got way worse for the program when rock bottom hit from 2000 thru 2002 when the football team managed a paltry 8-26 record.
But in the summer of 2003, a glimmer of hope appeared on the horizon when an eccentric offensive minded coach from the tiny town of Rule, Texas was hired to lead our beloved Coogs out of lethargy. Success and wins began to enter the old and dingy confines of Robertson Stadium. A conference championship you say? The success produced an NFL QB, running back, and receiver. The coach moved on and we had to start over again.
In 2008, another offensive minded coach brought an even more high powered offense and chose to go with an unknown gunslinger out of Abilene, Texas to lead his team to an even higher level of success. The team was ranked as high as 6th with a 12-0 record in 2010 and was on the cusp of a $17mm payout for a Sugar Bowl bid only to see it all come crashing down in a conference championship loss. Ah, but the mighty Coogs finished ranked for the season.
In 2011, the school didn’t pluck the hottest offensive mind from another program. Instead, they went in a different direction and hired within the program. Things were looking up. Realignment was shaking up, the Coogs were showing sustained success, and in 2012 a big piece to the Cougar P6 worthiness resume was added when a new on campus stadium was approved. The Big 12 lost two members and then two more in back-to-back years. The conference was on the cusp of disbanding which meant less seats for our mighty Cougars. Oh No!!! The Big 12 acted fast and added TCU and West Virginia! Surely we were next with another geographical partner, right? Buzz began to swirl in 2012 that we were being considered, but that nasty Warden Bevo and his disciples left us out. Its ok! We’ve got an invite to the Big East! Oh wait! There is no Big East now! No automatic bid, no big TV money, or power conference status! What the F&%^^?!?! Coog fans and Coog athletics have to wait longer. Back to the G5 pits and chump change.
Then in the winter of 2014, we got ourselves a real coach. Fresh off a national championship as an OC at one of top 5 programs in the country, we got ourselves a name on top of the hot list. He was passionate, changed the entire dynamic of our culture, marketed us well. And then he started winning games. And he kept winning and recruited our highest ranked recruit in the history of Houston football. And we won some more, Paul Wall gave him a grill, we made a NY6 bowl and kicked Florida State’s a$$. This was it!!! But we didn’t stop there! No! We took that top ten ranking and beat the heck out of Oklahoma the following season in Week 1. We drew over 2 million viewers for that game and we were on everyone’s map. Realignment talk was heating up again. The Big 12 was supposedly kicking the tires at the thought of going to 12 teams. But the Warden Bevo and Correctional Officer Barry Switzer gave us another 6 years in the hole.
The 2016 season didn’t turn out so well for us and then our coach left us high and dry in the most sh*tty way you could imagine. Here we go again with another coach and several more years in G5 prison. We hired our OC and the next two years were meh and we seem to have descended rapidly off the highest of highs in the early part of 2016. No sustained success and a coaching carousel that seemed like it was never going to end. I was convinced we were just stuck in a vicious cycle.
But then in 2019 we hired someone who helped the Cougars in the past and they were already a head coach at a P5 school!!! Whoa! Can this be?? Did we actually pluck a coach from the upper ranks? Yes we did! Well the success we all expected from our current coach didn’t quite translate onto the field immediately. We felt like the momentum was slipping away again. Attendance was way down, marketing and concessions were in the crapper, but just when you think things look bleak again, some crazy news came out of Austin and Norman. The two key stakeholders of the Big 12 were bolting for the SEC?
WHAT!!! Is this for real? What is gonna happen? Is the Big 12 going to survive? Is the PAC going to take the best candidates and the Big 12 will no longer exist? Is the AAC going to make a play for some members? Is Houston finally going to get an invite? And in the early fall weeks of 2021, it finally happened. Houston was invited along with three other institutions into the Big 12. A new warden and CO tried to keep us out, but this time we had a billionaire and politicians backing us and we got the final nod. It really happened. We were found innocent…like for…for real innocent as Heywood would say.
Yes, for 28 years, Houston fans and athletics crawled through thousands of yards of sh*t smelling foulness I can’t even imagine. Or maybe I just don’t want to. We are free at last with our outstretched arms letting the rain drops of joy soak our faces.
The Big 12 is our Zihuatanejo. Just like Andy, we’ve got a beautiful view, but we have to get the boat fixed up and the place looking nice. And Red? Well he represents the success that is going to come later. Red’s on his way. I promise.