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By now you have read or heard that the University of Houston Cougars came storming back across the pages of a Hollywood scripted comeback victory over the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Robertson Stadium on the UH campus last night. With exactly 49 seconds left in the game, junior quarterback Case Keenum slithered four yards up the middle on a keeper play, hurling himself into the end zone for what proved to be the winning score of 29-28. A two-point try then failed for UH, but the Cougar  kids managed to hold off the longest near-minute on record, one that could have, but didn’t, put Tech in position for a game-winning field goal.  Red Raider hopes died on the wings of a Hail Mary pass down the field from “Yosemite Sam” Potts to anybody running down field in a white jersey. The ball got batted away by the UH defenders on about the 12-yard line and the game was done
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This was an important game for UH, we fans and alumni, and the City of Houston. The record sellout crowd of 32,000 plus may have seemed like nothing by comparison to the crowds that jam Memorial Stadium in Austin, for best nearby example, but the figure was big relative to the plan for building support at UH for a new, much larger venue for football. Such a facility is vital to UH plans for building its way back into national contention as a first tier level athletic program.

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When UH first entered the Southwest Conference back in 1976, the Cougars did something that initially made, but eventually broke their highway to NCAA Football Heaven. The Cougars tied for the conference football championship that year and subsequently won or tied for three of four championships in football over the course of their first four years in the SWC. The highlight on UH’s successful mistake was going to Austin on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in 1976 and promptly whacking Darrell Royal’s last UT Longhorn squad by a score of 30-0. To make matters worse, the UH student body also brought a large banner that they unfolded early on in the stands at Austin. It simply read: HOUSTON IS THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS!”

Big mistake! The poor, but inspired cousins from the east should never have insulted their rich and powerful relations in Austin on the same day they chose  to also smite them and all their legends on their home field of battle. (See David v. Goliath for historical precedent. Even David knew when to keep his mouth shut.) As a result, there was little question from early on that the ancient powers of the old SWC were then loaded to the bear with buyer’s regret over the decision to take UH into the fold. It was also no small wonder, years later, that UH was among those schools who were left out of the move to the Big 12, along with Rice, TCU, and SMU after the Southwest Conference folded. At the same time, UT, A&M, Tech, and Baylor were invited to join the new Big 12 Conference.

Why would the Big 12 take three of the established public school powerhouses, but leave out UH in favor of weak-in-football, private school Baylor? It’s too bad that former Governor and Baylor alumna Ann Richards isn’t around to help explain that one. With the help of late Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock, I’m betting those two wonderful Texas pundits could quickly clear up any questions we might still have on “Baylor in – Houston out” in the Big 12 move.

To their credit, Texas Tech stands out as the only member of the Big 12’s former SWC four schools who will dare to continue scheduling UH in football. The others may prefer to explain their UH scheduling snubs as strictly an economic issue, but we at UH prefer to believe that it’s more about them making sure that they don’t do anything to help UH use those game opportunities as a device for getting back on all four Cougar paws in the facility, recruiting, and program respect roles race.

If UH keeps winning, time will tell what the truth is. In the meanwhile, keep on keeping on: EAT ‘EM UP, COOGS!

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With a record of 3-0 that now includes two wins over respected Big 12 opponents, UH has moved up after this weekend’s results from 17th to 12th in the AP Top 25 Poll. The incredible game played by Cougar Quarterback Case Keenum also deservedly has catapulted the UH junior into the pack of those outstanding candidates for the 2009 Heisman Trophy. Check out the poll for yourself and have a nice week.

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