Saturday, December 02, 2006
Hail Cougars? Hell Yes!
Cougars fight for dear old U of H
For our Alma Mater cheer.
Fight for Houston University
For victory is near.
When the going gets so rough and tough
We never worry cause we got the stuff.
So fight, fight, fight for red and white
And we'll go on to victory.
Congratulations to the University of Houston Cougars football team for winning the C-USA title for the first time in 10 years last night. They beat their longtime conference nemesis Southern Mississippi 34-20 in front of a record crowd of 31,000 at Robertson Stadium to take the crown. They have earned a trip to Memphis and the Liberty Bowl to take on Steve Spurrier's South Carolina Gamecocks December 29.
When I was attending UH we were an elite level football powerhouse. We were in the mix for the Southwest Conference Championship every year. When I arrived on campus in the fall of 1980 the Coogs were just coming off our fourth trip in five years to the Cotton Bowl.
I took it real hard along with other Cougar alums when we shockimgly weren't invited to join the Big 12 Conference in 1996. I suspected (along with many other Cougar alums) that the University of Texas had a hand in that decision. A football juggernaut in Houston impacts their recruiting ability in one of the best regions in Texas for high school football talent. Their refusal to play any UH athletic teams on a regular basis only fossilizes that impression for Cougar Nation.
There's a long history of Hateraid between us and UT. During Beat Texas Week we have a giant barbecue at the student center featuring Bevo burgers (the name of UT's longhorn mascot). The Cougar paw hand sign had its origins in an incident that occurred during the first UH-Texas game in 1953.
Our cougar mascot Shasta I caught her front paw in the car door transporting her and one toe had to be cut off. During the game which UT won 28-7, UT players discovered what had happened to Shasta I and began taunting UH players by holding up their hands with the ring finger bent, saying UH's mascot was an invalid and so were our players.
Upset UH students began using the sign as notice that they would never let UT forget the incident and later adopted the Cougar Paw as an official symbol of school pride. In fact one of the sarcastic comments on it that I heard while I was there in the early 80's was that the middle finger is a half a peace sign to the Longhorns.
During the second meeting in 1968, armed with African-American players and Bill Yeoman's newfangled Veer offense we fought Texas to a 20-20 tie.
We've also never let them forget our debut game as a member of the Southwest Conference in 1976. In front of the then-largest crowd in DKR-Memorial Stadium history of 77,809 fans, we spanked them 30-0 on the way to our first SWC championship and Cotton Bowl appearance.
But enough about Bevo conspiracy theories and the fun we and Texas A&M have making Longhorn fans as miserable as they make us. This is about the Coogs. I'm looking forward to making the trip to Memphis and watching Kevin Kolb, Jackie 'The Battleship' Battle, Anthony 'Quick' Aldridge and the current crop of Cougar footballers kick butt.
Eat 'em up, eat 'em up, rah rah rah!
It's almost like old times. The Cougars football program on the rise. The baseball team is preparing to make another run at a College World Series appearance. The UH basketball program under Tom Penders is clawing its way back to the Phi Slama Jama level and national B-ball prominence. I'm looking forward to the game next month in Lexington against UK.
While I'm on that subject, it's past time to induct Guy V. Lewis into the Basketball Hall of Fame. The man went to five Final Fours, was one half of the historic 1968 UH-UCLA game in the Dome that paved the way for college basketball to be televised on TV and coached NBA Hall of Famers. Let him in while he's still around to enjoy the moment.
Yeah, thimgs are definitely looking good on Cullen Boulevard these days.