Thank You … UT!

Late night TV comedian Jimmy Fallon has a weekly routine in which he writes “thank you notes” to various people and things in his life that have been  important to him over the previous week. As he writes out each “thank you” very carefully, a sentimental piano melody always plays in the background as he completes each thoughtful expression and carefully places it in its own separate envelope for mailing. With gratitude to Fallon for the idea, today I’d like to write out my own “thank you notes” for the sixteen candle days that flickered and burned away from November 24th through December 10th. You will have to imagine the same repetitive piano melody tinkering away in the background of each expressed “thank you” note. I couldn’t afford the musician.

Thank You ... UT!

Thank You … UT … for beating the snot and the crap out of the Aggies on Thanksgiving Evening. It gave Texas A&M a proper send off to the Southeast Conference … and it set in motion a chain of events that would help my university, UH, fully discover the true identity of someone we all had come to trust and admire for his contributions to our own Cougar football program over the past four seasons.

Thank You … Texas A&M … for firing Aggie football coach the very next Thursday, December 1st, and thank you for doing it in such a cold and sloppy way that this old world got to see how cruel and uncaring you guys could be toward those who inevitably fail to deliver on your great expectations.

Thank You … Aggie Regent Running Buddy of UH Coach Kevin Sumlin …. whatever your name is. Thank you for suggesting that it would be good to just dump Coach Mike Sherman and hire Kevin Sumlin so that you could feel good about running with a fellow Aggie.

Thank you again … Texas A&M … for timing this whole mess to hit the fan right before UH played their Conference USA Championship and first BCS qualifying game against Southern Miss. … The Saturday morning Dec. 3rd headlines of the Houston Chronicle were so impressed by your timing in this matter that they almost forgot to include their pre-game story on game day, settling for headlines that screamed something like NOW THAT A&M DUMPS SHERMAN,  AGGIES SET SIGHTS ON SUMLIN.

Thank you, … Coach Sumlin and Cougar footballers … thank you for all your expressions of denial about the Aggie Mess not mattering and then going out there and playing the stinko game of the year in the 49-28 championship/BCS/national credibility/and Case Keenum Heisman Trophy loss to Southern Miss on December 3rd.

Thank you … Coach Sumlin … for immediately going into the most disingenuous pattern of smiling evasion on all questions that immediately fell upon you at game’s end about your possible future as the next Aggie coach.  We UH folk had not been privileged to have seen that part of you previously, but we took little consolation from “friends” who told us: “Don’t be so hard on Sumlin. If any of you other UH guys had a chance for a lot more money at a better place to work, wouldn’t you stop to think about it too?”

Thank you … Well-Intentioned and Other Vicariously Ill Willed friends ... for your question. Our answer is simple: Anyone has a right to look elsewhere for a better situation, but some of us at UH are not of that ilk. We ARE Cougars. Our blood does not change from Cougar Red if you try to scratch it with Federal Reserve Note Green. Like true Longhorns and Aggies, we Cougars support our university simply because that’s who we are. We are not interested in being any individual employee’s stepping stone to a better job elsewhere – and we are working as hard as possible with every new evidence of its presence to make corrections to both the substance and image of UH and also in close focus upon the kind of people we employ. Until the AM stink bomb landed in the middle of our 2011 football parade, we had not seen evidence in Kevin Sumlin of the ordinariness of personal selfishness in his character that began to unfold at the very moment we needed him to right the ship from disaster and rally to avoid the loss of recruits. Nothing happened. Silence ruled. The slate became an easy target for those who rapidly concluded the unofficial obvious: Sumlin’s gone.

Thank You … Bowl Game Assignment Team … for sending the fallen-from-grace Cougars to play Penn State in the “Ticket City Bowl” in Dallas on January 2nd. It’s another can’t win proposition. If we lose to the embattled Big Ten power, defeat simply reinforces the idea that the Cougars’ first twelve wins of the season were a fluke and …. if UH wins … it will be rationalized that it only happened because UH had taken advantage of the downtrodden Nittany Lions on the heels of their sad “Loss of JoePa, Sandusky Blues” season.

Thank You … Heisman Trophy People … for capping the glorious season of record-setting QB Case Keenum by not even inviting him to the banquet table in New York on December 10th. As someone who only broke just about every career record for passing in college football history, Keenum hardly deserved consideration for the magnificently prestigious Heisman Trophy Award.

Thank you again … Coach Sumlin ... for attending the December 9th celebration on the Cougars joining the Big Eight Conference and then going immediately into your cute “I don’t want to talk to you” routine when asked for a straight answer on where you would be coaching next season. It was a beautiful execution of the old low-class deflection play.

Thank you again, UT … for helping UH find out the true identity of Coach Kevin Sumlin. On December 10th, Sumlin finally admitted to his Cougar team that he was leaving immediately to become the new football coach at Texas A&M. Had you, UT, not whipped A&M on turkey day and set this whole chain of events in motion, we of UH might have had to wait until an even worse moment down the line to learn the whole spectrum on his me-first colors. Hope he understands that his next coaching change of jobs is going to happen to him, not for him. As Mike Sherman got to learn this time, at A&M, termination will come like a thief in the night and it will leave him job-hunting, not the Jeffersonian “movin’-on-up” experience he enjoys today.

Thank you …. Robert Griffin III of Baylor … Thank you for reminding us Cougars what happened the last time we lost a head coach to a better paying job with a more “prestigious school.” Before Coach Art Briles took the Baylor job, you had committed to play for him at UH. Today you picked up the Heisman Trophy for 2011 – and on the same day that Briles’ replacement coach, Kevin Sumlin, called up U Haul for help getting to College Station. – Congratulations too on bagging the Heisman. If Case couldn’t have it, I’m glad you took it.

Thanks finally to … UH Chancellor and President Renu Khator and UH Athletic Director Mark Rhoades … Thanks to both of you for your integrity, intelligence, loyalty and dedication to UH’s Tier One goals in both academics and athletics at the Division One collegiate level as we continue to work on improving coaching salary, benefits, and facilities worthy of a legacy school. – We of the UH family are trusting both of you to find a new great coach, but one who possesses the character to rise above his hunger for personal gift-horse opportunity and remain loyal to the larger institutional cause and the players who trusted him when they made their decisions to join the Cougar family after high school or junior college play. We thought we got it right this time. Maybe next time, we will.


Thank You … Next Great UH Cougar Football Coach! … I already like you better than I did the last guy.


5 Responses to “Thank You … UT!”

  1. Bob Hulsey Says:

    You forgot to thank Conference USA, whom UH showed as much loyalty to as Sumlin showed to UH. See? Everyone is looking out for #1.

    If you are looking for fidelity in a head coach, you should 1) hire a graduate of your school’s program even if he isn’t the next hotshot assistant on his way up the career ladder and 2) sign him to a long-term contract with heavy penalties for leaving early to another school then 3) invest in upgrading the program sufficiently that this coach can compete for the best recruits to sustain the program.

    If UH doesn’t do these three things, they’ll likely find themselves in the same situation another 3-4 years down the road.

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      “You forgot to thank Conference USA, whom UH showed as much loyalty to as Sumlin showed to UH. See? Everyone is looking out for #1.” – Bob Hulsey


      You underestimate my familiarity with egocentric psychology and how it works in all of us. Of course, we all look out for # 1. Most people live their entire lives doing that and only that. We’re talking here about finding someone who has both the ability to look out for themselves and also dedicate (with the help of bond, reward, and penalty – pretty much as you have described it) themselves to a cause that rises above egocentric attachments, chemical cravings, and the basic survival needs of the individual.

      By the way, it also isn’t lost on me that a graphic illustration of self-centered irony would be for UH to go down the food chain and pick off the Sam Houston State coach as A&M did Sumlin. Now that one would require some guilt-burdened thank you note under the protestations I’ve put forth here in today’s column.

      If I stopped here to simply thank all the things that keep me going as cravings too, I would have to both thank and apologize to every pepperoni pizza I ever met.

      Thank You too … Bob Hulsey … for your excellent points on the fabric of fidelity as it applies to the quilt of our UH coaching search. You’re right on target in that department.

  2. Patrick Lopez Says:

    The elephant in the room,
    A $10,000 bet last night by Romny to Perry on National TV debate between Republicam millionaries , Ryan Braun baseball ‘s MVP ,just failed a drug test , and maybe useid the performance pill during the last season .Politics ,Sports , Wall Street , all soaked in the decaying smell of that elephant of too much money.
    Who wouldn’t take a better coaching job for more $$,,Who wouldn’t take $60,000 for a speech about my strategic advice ,who wouldn’t take a pill to win a ML batting crown ???
    It seems everbody does,,,I betcha.

  3. Bruce Biundo Says:

    I had the pleasure and fun at being at Moores Opera House on Friday when the announcement that UH is joining the Big East was offically made. What a great event! Lots of excitement and displays of Cougar pride. As President Khator and AD Mack Rhoades emphasized, we want to prove ourselves at a higher level, we want to continue to move up in academic and athletic ratings. Going to the Big East was the best option on the table to do that. I do not begrudge Kevin Sumlin’s move; it is in line with what the same types of goals that UH strives for: to prove oneself at a higher level. Clearly, the SEC offers a higher plan of athletic endeavor than does the Big East. Bruce Biundo

  4. Tom Trimble Says:

    A tale I’ve heard a time or two and I choose to believe was that when Bum Phillips was a coach at UH and recruiting one of the top prospects in the state — I think it was Steve Worster(sp?), but I couldn’t swear to that — he essentially had him in the fold but told him not to go to a school because of the coach but because of the school itself since there was no guarantee that the coach would be there when the kid was there. Sure enough, Bum lost the recruit to UT. And while I was sorry that UH had lost out in that situation I was proud of the way in which it was done. That was probably only Bum talking and not the official UH position, but I’d like to think otherwise.
    I don’t begrudge A&M and Sumlin their choices, but I do think the way all of that was handled, especially the timing, showed a definite lack of class.
    BTW, I’d really like to see UH go after Reid Gettys as their basketball coach. A member if Phi Slamma Jamma that really can coach and still tap into the PSJ mystique could rebuild the program, I think. See Bob’s rules of recruiting a coach. But of course I’d like to see Dickey’s situation handled in a better manner than A&M handled Sherman’s.

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