“Cougar High” Takes on New Meaning at UH

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After decades of scorn by salacious and malevolent idiots, the phrase “Cougar High” now takes on new meaning for those of us who have been blood, sweat and tears members of Cougar Nation since the first millennium and friends to many decent and civil alumni who felt just as strongly about their own ties to the University of Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Southern, Rice, Notre Dame, et cetera.

We UH people are now riding a “Cougar High”, of course, because of all the success we’ve begun to feel again under the new leadership of Head Football Coach Tom Herman and his staff and the level of exceptional play exhibited by our very talented UH players, but it didn’t start there – nor will it ever stop again.

It started with the corps of Cougar alumni, regents, and faculty that have believed from the heart of our UH motto, “In Time”,  that we shall, as a research and educational force that bears the name of our great city, fulfill our destiny for arising from the once humble goal of providing basic college choices for Houston-based commuter students into the Tier One status university we have become – in service to the City of Houston, the State of Texas, the nation, and the world. And in service to the diverse population of students that now attend UH as the face of tomorrow’s world of thought, discovery, and action.

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The University of Houston is dedicated to caring about what happens to its students, its faculty, its alumni, and its many and variously purposed research and educational programs. UH also is deeply entrenched as an institutional member of the Greater Houston community and what we may learn locally about the best ways for modern cities to develop in service to both the needs of tomorrow and the best preservation of the past.

Special credit must extend first to UH Chancellor/President Renu Khator. Since she took office at UH on January 15, 2008 and lit the first action torch for the achievement of Tier One academic status at UH, nothing has slowed us down. Throw in the support of a pro-active UH Board of Regents and the leadership and political savvy of our Board Chair, Mr. Tillman Fertitta, and the original flaming torch for Tier One Status for UH came to be in 2011.

Dick Kirtley played football for the Cougars and his lovely wife Laura was a UH cheerleader. I was a groomsman in their wedding back in 1967 and was delighted to learn that Channel 13 selected them for fan interviews prior to the Temple game.

Dick Kirtley played football for the Cougars and his lovely wife Laura was a UH cheerleader. I was a groomsman in their wedding back in 1967 and was delighted to learn that Channel 13 had selected my dear friends for fan interviews prior to the Temple game.- They did great!

UH values excellence in athletics as a tandem quality we embrace as a desirable complement to the goals of  our Tier One academic institution. In that aim, this torch burns brighter today by the recent actions taken by UH and other donor supporters to do all we can to make sure that Tom Herman is not simply our latest steppingstone football coach.

Now that UH has established that we intend to begin a coaching pay scale with Coach Herman that is in line with the needs of a destination school mentor, there’s no going back to the old business of finding an endless stream of very good new coaches who only can afford to stay at UH until another school offers them a lot more money to coach at one of the big conference schools.

Yesterday, UH took the first American Athletic Conference title at TDECU Stadium here in Houston with a 24-13 win over Temple. That’s great. But joining the Big 12 Conference as early as 2017 could even be the next big heat rise lift to our now in motion “Cougar High” on the athletic field side too.

UH values excellence in athletics as a tandem quality we embrace at our Tier One academic institution.

Where do we go from here with the business of helping Coach Herman grow in his level of loyalty and commitment to UH as a pretty darn good career choice – and one that fits his needs to teach winning football in a city that he and his family already love?

Coach Herman gave us a hint to that answer in something he said about his relationship with his players. In essence, what Herman said about the players’ needs of him fits neatly around what I see as his needs from us.

Paraphrasing here, Herman said this about his need to get across a very important first point of trust to his players: “At the start, the players didn’t care about what I may be able to teach them as the new coach. They first needed to know that I care about them before they became open to letting me teach them anything.”

That’s a mouthful when it comes from the kind of honest person I believe Tom Herman is to the bone.

It says he had to convince the UH players he recruited that he cared about their commitment to him and UH. It says, especially now that his salary money is in place at a more competitive level, that he is not likely to jump ship on a kid in his first year as a UH player. And I don’t think he will, either, although I am well versed in the news that anything may always happen and that nothing really is ever guaranteed in any agreement between two human beings until it happens.

So, what’s in the message for us? What does Tom Herman need to see from all of us fans? That’s easy. The man needs to see us show up for home games – as much as possible – as we did for the last three home games against Memphis, Navy, and Temple. – We need to turn the house red at home and, as much some may find it possible, we need to travel with the Coogs on road games, especially, to bowl games.

On the other side, Herman needs to understand that “changing the culture” at UH probably doesn’t mean that even winning alone will be enough in the future to pack the house for games against the “Texas States” and “Southerns” of this world. The home game schedule has to improve as winning is maintained against tougher teams for the house to be full on a consistent basis.

At any rate, this “Cougar High” isn’t going out. One of the most diverse universities in the nation is about to arise to the level it has always aspired. – Tier One in academics. – Mountain top-level in athletics.

Eat ‘Em Up, Cougars!

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3 Responses to ““Cougar High” Takes on New Meaning at UH”

  1. Tom Hunter Says:

    Great column, Bill. Regarding the need for a tougher home game schedule to insure a full house, UH’s opening game next September is against the Oklahoma Sooners–at NRG Stadium, with a capacity of over 70,000. We know plenty of OU fans will be there decked out in crimson, but it would be encouraging if there were more noise coming from the Cougars’ scarlet contingent. Can’t wait for the first game of the new year in a bowl game against . . . ?

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Thanks, Tom. And thanks for the reminder that we take on Oklahoma at NRG to open the 2016 season. As of this date, the possibility still exists that we could be starting next year’s football slate against the defending 2015 national champions. If that doesn’t stir some new interest in Cougar football, what will?

      Two things we do know for certain now that we didn’t know when you left you earlier comment here are our bowl game placement and our the name of our very worthy opponent. it also won’t be the the first game of the new year, but one of three big games on New Years Eve day.

      # 18 Houston will play its third straight 11:00 AM game on 12/31/15 at the Chick Fil A Peach Bowl in Atlanta against # 9 Florida State.

      The two games that follow that same day are the two four-team tournament games that will decide who plays for the 2015 national championship in the middle of January 2016. I don’t know the times of those other games, but it will be # 1 Clemson vs. # 4 Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl in Miami and # 2 Alabama vs. # 3 Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl in Arlington TX.

      The Cougars and Seminoles will have no competition from any other bowl game when they play, but they will have to play for the core of fans who are up to watching a game at 11 o’clock in the morning on the day that some people are either still working or sleeping late in readiness for New Year’s Eve.

      GO COOGS! – DO IT FOR UH! – DO IT FOR THE WHOLE CITY OF HOUSTON! – BEAT FLORIDA STATE!

  2. Randy Says:

    Great article, Bill!
    So happy to see all of this come to pass and the wheels set in motion with sights set on what is our rightful due, “birthright” if you will.
    And if his players loving Coach Herman wasn’t enough……………so do some very highly regarded recruits that must meet and adhere to Herman’s demands and expectations.

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