The Houston Cougars are a program on the rise in several aspects. Here’s why the Big 12 need to add U of H to the conference now.
The Houston Cougars have been one of the top programs in the Group of 5 for a long time now. They have been at least relevant in football for the better part of a decade, often times showing out to be more than that.
Additionally, the Houston Cougars baseball team has been at the top of the AAC for a good portion of the past two decades. Specifically, they have made the NCAA tournament four out of the last five years while also winning the conference three out of the last five years. Todd Whitting has this team consistently ready to compete with the best of the best.
Though the Cougar volleyball team hasn’t performed particularly well the past few seasons and the same goes for the Cougar women’s basketball team. While both the men’s and women’s track and field teams compete at an extremely high level and the same goes for the softball team.
Simply put, there isn’t much left for the University of Houston to prove in the American Athletic Conference. They can compete at a high level in nearly every sport and be successful in nearly every sport, as well.
The Big 12 is a conference on the rocks. The University of Texas has long dominated the conference beyond sports, getting a much bigger slice of the pie than other teams, which forced Texas A&M and Missouri to the SEC and Colorado and Nebraska to the PAC 12 and Big 10, respectively, years ago.
The Big 12 is starting to fall behind bigger conferences and needs to be looking at an expansion to get back to 12 schools in the conference rather than 10 in an effort to become more competitive on a national scale. Adding the Houston Cougars to the conference will elevate the conference across the board in all sports, especially in the cash cows like football, baseball, and basketball.
From here on out, we’re going to be focusing specifically on the football side of things and what the Houston Cougars would bring to the Big 12 on the gridiron. Houston has been a thorn in the side of bigger programs for some time now, dating back to the Case Keenum days. This is something that will continue for years to come as Houston looks to turn themselves into more of a contender.
For a while now, the University of Houston has served as a launch pad for college football coaches as Art Briles, Kevin Sumlin, and Tom Herman parlayed success at Houston into big, Power 5 jobs. Following those three, Houston hired Major Applewhite to be their next coach. He was a safe signing and wasn’t seen as a flight risk.
Applewhite led some decent teams in his two years as head coach but the wheels fell off in terms of both player management and on-field production this year. The University elected to fire Applewhite following the bowl game trouncing and quickly moved to fill the head coaching void.
With big-pocketed boosters like Houston Rockets owner, Tilman Fertitta, Houston was able to go and pluck one of the best offensive minds in college football from a Power 5 school, from the Big 12, in Dana Holgorsen. Now, the deal isn’t technically official yet but, the terms should get ironed out in a day or so.
Holgorsen brings notoriety and recognition to a program that needed a big, splash hire to take the next step. Transitioning back to Houston, a place where he was the offensive coordinator for a few seasons, doesn’t make sense on the surface. But a raise plus being embedded in one of the most fertile recruiting grounds in the nation make this job a desirable one.
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There isn’t much doubt that Holgorsen will be able to help take the Houston Cougars football team to the next level in the 2019 season. He’s starting off behind the eight ball a little bit since the vast majority of the recruiting for this cycle is done but, he’s inheriting a talented roster that is pretty much only losing Ed Oliver, which, of course, is a huge loss.
The Cougars football team could come in and make some serious noise in the Big 12 were the conference to add the University. Texas and other programs may complain some to lose the Houston recruiting grounds to an in-conference school, as being in the Big 12 would make Houston an even more attractive destination, adding the Cougars to the Big 12 is what is best for the conference.
The football schedule immediately gets more competitive and will force teams to consistently up their game in order to be at the top of the conference at season’s end. The added competition would also help the conference come bowl season when competing against other conferences, an area where the Big 12 has struggled with a little bit recently.
Adding an up and coming program like Houston would be a boon to the conference financially as well, especially in such a big market like the city of Houston. It makes the conference more competitive in nearly every sport while also cutting down on some traveling, which is always a plus.
Of course, adding the Houston Cougars alone wouldn’t work because it creates an odd number of schools in the conference. So, the Big 12 will have to seek out another school as well. The best option would be to add the University of Central Florida, even if the geographics aren’t ideal. If UCF won’t bite, adding Memphis or the University of South Florida could be solid options as well.
If the Big 12 can offer the University of Houston a big enough slice of the pie to make the conference switch worth it, the conference will be better for it and U of H will be better for it. Plus, there’s a little bit of a ready-made rivalry now that Houston has stolen West Virginia’s head coach.
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Regardless, the Big 12 needs to make some changes because they’re looking at a potential conference liquidation if they can’t figure out their problems, revenue share being the chief of them. The Houston Cougars help solve some problems and make the conference better. It’s a no-brainer.