Troy Aikman Calls UCLA’s Attendance an ’Embarrassment’ | Sports Illustrated

Northwestern is a private school in a suburb 12 miles north of Chicago, and is included in its metro area.

Illinois is, well, you got me there :wink:

Now, Maryland also averaged worse attendance than Minnesota. However, Maryland is in the DC Metro, which has 8 pro teams within 25 mile radius (Ravens, Orioles, Commanders, Wizards, Nationals, Capitals, DC United, and Mystics). So it proves the point even more.

One positive on this list is Rutgers. They actually have better attendance than many incumbent BIG programs, considering the size of their stadium. I must say we attended the Iowa-Rutgers game back in 2016 and the Rutgers fans were really into being a BIG team. The signs were plastered on every lamp post, bus stop, street sign and stadium wall on campus. Its good to see that the fans have really responded well.

USC has a ridiculous following because of the relationship of the Trojan Family. They make it fun for the whole family to enjoy, but this was something put into motion in the 1990s (video) by their late president Dr. Steven Sample, an Illinis graduate. Dr. Sample drank and sold the “kool-aid”.

UH could emulate, but you have get athletics and student life to work with a smart and capable promotions team. It’s not about spending money needlessly, but changing the culture through realistic strategy. Here is a list taken from the “playbooks” from Michigan, Texas, Mississippi, USC, and A&M.

  1. Invite local schools for $5 tickets. Do what Is needed to fill the stands to capacity for every game. This also will help attract future students.
  2. invite the local HS bands, dance, and cheerleaders to perform at one game.
  3. Create a designated tailgating zone that gets sponsorship from local companies and blessing from CPride and Houston alumni. Place for RVs, tents and etc. Send out notices to alumni about this area and that they and their families are welcome back “home”.
  4. Get the environment to be friendly for moms and wives. Something that creates a weekly experience and offers a chance for fun, like cook offs. Reasons to be there besides the game.
  5. Create a connection and community with Locals to attend, even if they didn’t graduate
  6. UH ambassadors should have a designated team that supports athletics and organizes game attendance
  7. New student conference should teach that Cougar family is important for future bonds, but do it so that it grows naturally. Heavily push the message of the” Cougar family” to the point it’s damn near cultish. Bring in volunteer alumni who can adopt the message and drive home the point during the new student conference and when the school is brought up in conversation. Support each other, even when things are hard and not going well: Cougar family bonds. Start and end that this is real and alumni are there to help the Cougar family.
  8. Build an student group (make it required for their scholarship) that just calls alumni to go to games and participate as an alumnus by joining Houston alumni and cougar pride. Call twice a year and send mini swag items to promote it (calendars, mailing stickers, pens, whatever, but inexpensive, quality looking items). Keep the connections alive.
  9. Keep all the stores on campus (and the stadium) stocked with shirts and update the website for great alumni products. Brand everything at the system, campus, college, and department levels: e.g. Bauer should be able have branded North Face jackets. Reappropriate the old logos into the promotional items. Not maintaining a tradition also alienates the older alumni: bonds created aren’t fully immortalized.
  10. Make most games special, like commemoration of the 30th matchup against Cincinnati and promote via Social Media, local media, and geofence the rival school’s location. Create a Red out, red and white, or white out game. Whatever.
  11. Quit building websites (Spirit of Houston, I’m looking at you!) that are associated with campus programs and organizations that aren’t on - this makes everything look cheap. (This alone drives me INSANE)
  12. Off season should have a series of co-Ed golf events for alumni to raise funds as boosters

Not quite. LA Coliseum was built as a WW1 memorial in 1923 and the LA Olympics was held there in 1932. Trojans have been there, basically, since day 1 and UCLA went in 1933-1981.

LA county still owns the stadium (USC owns the company that operates the stadium and took over the master lease in 2013) but coincidentally, it’s so close to USC, near exposition park and downtown. It is the equivalent is UH campus and a stadium in MacGregor park.

UCLA is in Westwood near Beverly Hills and there is some strong NIMBY sentiment there that don’t want a football stadium there. Their soccer stadium, Drake was meant to be just that, but the neighbors fought against it (story goes, it was USC alums in the neighborhood that complained to alter the project). UCLA has the money for it - no doubt. They were also screwed in the deal with the Coliseum because they were second priority to USC and third to NFL teams (Raiders and Rams). UCLA should just co-opt a nearby stadium (high school or unused) and offer to upgrade/eventually buy it or upgrade Drake. The Rose Bowl is awesome, but so far away (26 miles) and LA Coliseum is 15 miles from UCLA.


True you have to build a fanbase and work actively to do. It seems none of our AD’s understood this or worked actively to do it , all depended on just winning which is not enough especially these days. University Michigan AD way back in the early history of their program did the same thing to fill the big house. It takes a Enlighten progressive out of the box thinker And marketer at AD to do these things, someone who really wants to get their hands dirty.


I think UH does all this. When I was in school, even though we were not particularly successful, the campus stores were full of UH swag. In fact, at that time it was the only place you could find UH swag.

USCs popularity is directly correlated to its success. USC has won like 7 National Titles, has 8 Heisman winners, and has dominated the PAC 8/10/12 (in football) for most of its existence.

USC’s culture is strong because of its ties to LA, even more so than UCLA. There are people who grow up wanting to go to USC. Unfortunately, UH does not have that yet. I wish we did, but we don’t.

Can some of the ideas listed above work for UH? Sure, but only if we follow it up with on the field success. Trust me, if UH was going 10-2 to 13-1 every season, we would not need any gimmicks. Nothing sells like success.

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Absolutely - success begets further success.

The misnomer to USC is that it was always a top school. It wasn’t: it was a local backup school up until the late 2000s. It’s essentially LA’s SMU and was able to capitalize in the community’s wealthy to raise the profile. They have national recruitment offices coast to coast to attract students.

UCLA is still very well regarded with fans here. Especially those that spew anti-private school sentiment. What UCLA has trouble with is the organized competition of USC. UCLA is considered the better school, but they move at a different pace (Government bureaucracy) than a focused and wealthy alumni base that are changing the reputation of their Alma mater.

I believe now is the best time to be a Coog since the late 80s. UH is doing some of that list, but it’s not all and not consistent. UH isn’t poor and doesn’t lack a leader of the institution, but I think it needs stronger marketing and mid level leaders in athletics and student life for promotions. This school has so much potential and is located in a big city. It could be a top 25 school with the right strategy.


UCLA’s biggest problem is Prop 209. As a result, they can no longer get the athletes they need to actually succeed at sports. Even the basketball team has suffered.

USC, as a private school, doesn’t have to deal with this. Neither does Stanford.

As I have mentioned here repeatedly, the CA schools biggest problem is demographics. The kids who make up most of the Athletes don’t go to UCLA or Cal. They don’t even go to USC really. Difference is USC is in South Central LA and thus is intertwined in the community. UCLA is in Westwood, which is sort of like West U (i.e. pretty Bougie).

I do agree that UH needs better marketing. Too many people think UH is an open enrollment school.

To correct this, one of the things UH should do is ditch UH-Downtown. I believe it is open enrollment (or was very recently). If not, then bring it fully into UH Main Campus, with the same admission requirements. SUNY-Buffalo has two separate campuses in Buffalo and has it figured out; UH can do the same.

I am ambivalent on UH-Victoria. I can see why it is needed and does expand our student base outside of Houston. So I am fine with it. Sugar Land and Katy are also good because they have the same admission requirements and also serve a purpose of educating working professionals who are trying to increase their education and certification.

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Open admissions aside, it serves a different constituency. It is also a system school. How would the UH System peel them off? FWIW, UH-D worked great for me. I was in my late 30’s, married, with some GI Bill benefits left to use.

Back to OT: UH is doing a fantastic job at prepping students for grad schools and jobs. Too many alums view UH as a trade school, whether or not they articulate that. Whatever happens at schools like UT or ND that creates lifelong active alumni doesn’t happen at UH.

Students enroll, graduate, move to Katy or The Woodlands and forget about it. This puzzle will never be solved.


UCLA’s biggest problem is Prop 209. As a result, they can no longer get the athletes they need to actually succeed at sports. Even the basketball team has suffered.

I 100% agree. UCLA has some of the lowest African American numbers, ever.

UH should do is ditch UH-Downtown.

I don’t agree here. They should rebrand the school. A friend who worked at their campus as a director did a renaming campaign and I helped on it. It would cost serious money, but it should be changed to something like “Houston Metropolitan University”. Do the CUNY naming model that goes with the mission instead of UT system style.

Sugar Land and Katy are also good because they have the same admission requirements and also serve a purpose of educating working professionals who are trying to increase their education and certification.

I wholeheartedly believe that UH is going to turn those schools into independent universities like Clear Lake, Downtown, and Victoria. It creates a barrier of entry from rival, public institutions and UH moving its “applied” schools let’s main campus become the jewel, traditional research school.

My point exactly: create a welcoming experience to get them back on campus.

I think we agree on Downtown.

Now, I am not saying that UH DT doesn’t serve a need; clearly it does. All I am saying is that they should either ditch it or bring it into the fold (I prefer the latter). It would allow us to admit more students, which all public schools, not just UH, should be doing.

I had forgotten about UHCL. I would bring them into the fold as well. I believe at one point UH CLs main focus was to train NASA workers. That is why its science and technology schools were particularly good. That would go along way toward increasing UH’s STEM reputation.

If I were in charge (I am not :)) I would do what Iowa: basically they have a points system: if you have a 3.0 GPA, take a certain number of courses in HS (4 LA, 3 Science, 3 Soc Science, 3 foreign language, 3 math, and 3 other) and score a certain SAT/ACT, then you are automatically admitted to Iowa, ISU, UNI. We already do that with the top 10 percent thing; this would build on it. It would provide more opportunities to students and it would also ensure that students are prepared for college, as they have to take a certain number of classes in each subject grouping to even get in.

There is strength in numbers, but we need to maintain a certain level of quality.

These schools already are “in the fold” because they are independent degree-granting schools, not satellite campuses. Do you want to pull their charters and make them satellite campuses?

Was checking out Google maps and yeah they really have no where a stadium could even be possible. Maybe if they removed their intramural fields, but that would need to be a small stadium and would not make students happy. For Drake, that is a track facility. I don’t see any way they can add many seats there without removing the track and shotput/javelin areas.

Seems like they are in a really tough spot.


Absolutely correct. Starts with the AD in this case. President has the vision, but needs someone to carry out her vision athletically. Is Pez the right guy, honestly I don’t know, but I’m hoping he is.

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UH is the third largest school in Texas. I think it’s hit its max. I think the school should decrease to less than 35,000 and increase its requirements. That will attract the right kind of smarts and with help, turn them into sporty nerds like Michigan. The Graduate schools need to increase in size to also flex the research funds upward. If you look at all the top institutions in the USA, the top schools are in a 40:60 or 45:55 sweet spot of undergraduate and graduate students. This is AAU kind of reshuffling and I would be surprised if this is not what is in the UHS strategy.

I would turn the portfolio of UHS into liberal arts, open enrollment, and solid applied programs, so the grads stay in the family.

  • UH Victoria - maintain as a liberal arts school
  • UH Downtown - maintain as open enrollment, business and science focused school but no sports except dragon boat racing
  • UH Clear Lake - maintain as a strong engineering school to keep ties with NASA and the area
  • UH Sugar Land - become the applied tech school
  • UH Katy - become the west health and liberal arts college

The thing about these institutions, they won’t be Coogs and that’s fine. These graduates should foster their own legacy and traditions. Their Presidents should support their demographic to the best of their ability. These are excellent schools and it’s not going to be a real benefit to the city, the students, or the schools if they change these Universities into satellite campuses. I don’t think they’d ever be able or allowed to become D1 schools, but having them as NAIA or D2 schools for local competition and have Main go to recruit the talent. Keep the talent in town and developed in house to be transferred Coogs, perhaps.

I also think with this portfolio of schools, it would be smart to copy UMass and create a UHouston club in the loop, like the Petroleum Club/Harvard Club that gets UH system grads to dine and hang out. Promotes comradery and a place for professional networking.

What I think UH has over UT or A&M is that it serves a smaller geography. It can focus on its strengths in an area the same way that a private school does. A&M’s growth to the largest is “neat”, but as an alum - I wonder if the school is watering down its teaching ability for the sake of a larger Aggie alumni base. I feel that College Station taking the Rangel Pharmacy school from TAMUK is somewhat controversial (it’s located on Kingsville’s campus, but grads are Aggies not Javelinas).

That would be a great idea ditch UH as separate and make it part of central with the same requirements.

UH should not become more selective, nor should it seek to emulate a private school. That is literally the exact opposite of what it (or for that matter, any other public university) should be doing.

The increasingly selectivity of public colleges and universities is exactly why support for funding of these institutions is decreasing. Rather than serving its mission and function to educate the public who cannot afford a private university, it would simply duplicate what Rice already does, educate the elite. Why in the heck would a cop, firemen, a letter carrier, lawn man, teacher etc., support funding for such institutions? I would not, and I am upper class.

UH should definitely not imitate Michigan. First, Michigan does not have “sporty nerds”. Outside of last season, Michigan football has not been particularly competitive outside the BIG. In fact, one can trace Michigan’s decline in football to passage of a anti-affirmative action ordinance in the late 1990’s that was very similar to CA’s. It is not a coincidence that the 1997 team that shared a national championship included players that were not covered by that ordinance.

Michigan was run out of the stadium by UGA. It was absolutely embarrassing. No way OSU loses that badly. Heck, Cincinnati looked better against Bama and UGA than Michigan did. Michigan won’t due much better this year either, if they have to play someone with actual athletes (not Iowa).


My Bruin friends arent happy with Aikman
Edit- just got a text from one saying good job Troy


I see your point and it’s a good argument. The only counter issue with it is it assumes two things:

  1. that the local tax basis continues (I don’t think this is that much of an issue, Texas prides itself of University education)
  2. it ignores the systematic decreased funding of public k-12 which in 10-20 years may lead to ill-prepared college students

I like what you’re saying, that UH maintains as a premier school for the working class given that I’ma first generation American and University graduate. I think that #2 is a real issue and hope UH can defend itself by learning from what happened to CCNY, the original “poor man’s Harvard”. CCNY’s admissions standards were essentially removed in order to matriculate the less prepared student population and had to establish remedial courses to get the public k-12 grads to the right level. While serving its public purpose it also hurt CCNY’s reputation. I’m sure there’s some NYC nuances that also led to this, but UH could be all of the best attributes of the schools I mentioned.