A criteria for determining future UH football opponents

The University of Houston announced a few days ago that the Cougars will no longer be scheduling FCS opponents. After 2016’s game against Lamar University, the Cougars will be focused on only scheduling FBS level opponents. The school’s out-of-conference schedule starting in 2017 will include two opponents from Power 5 conferences and two from the Group of 5.

I’m not going to debate the pros and cons of scheduling Group of 5 schools (r/CFB covers that pretty well here), this post is to give the school a list of ideas on whom we should look to schedule.

Who Should The Coogs Schedule?

The next question for the school is who should the university schedule for future non-conference opponents? I’m going to rank who Houston should be scheduling:

#1 P5 schools with lots of alumni in Houston

First on our list needs to be schools with large alumni bases in the greater Houston metro area. This includes every Big 12 school and most SEC programs as well. Houston is a very oversaturated sports market and anything we can do to make UH games get more attention from local fans and the local media will only help bring awareness to the program.

More people locally caring about the UH games will get more people buying merchandise in stores (Wal-Mart, Academy, etc.) and also get more UH games shown in bars around the city. UH-UT, UH-A&M, UH-LSU, UH-Alabama, etc. will move the needle and get the Coogs lots of attention. These schools also travel well and would make for a very entertaining atmosphere as their fans come to the Cougar den of TDECU.

#2 “Blue Blood” Power 5 opponents with a large brand

After looking at P5 opponents with lots of alumni in Houston, the Coogs should then look at the “Blue Bloods” – Power 5 opponents with a large brand and history. Look at scheduling schools like: Michigan, USC, Notre Dame, Florida State, Florida, Penn State, Georgia, Ohio State, Nebraska, Miami, etc. A win against a blue blood school will get UH a lot of national attention. Even if the blue blood is having a down year, they still have a tons of fans across the country and would be very upset if they lost to UH, which would only increase our brand and get the national media talking about us.

#3 Any other Power 5 school

After exhausting the list of schools covered by #1 and #2, the Coogs should consider scheduling any other Power 5 school. This includes strong programs that aren’t historic blue-bloods (Oregon, Stanford), mid-level programs that might go to a bowl game (Boston College, Rutgers, Utah), and everyone else in a power 5 conference.

Yes, UH beating Oregon or Stanford would get the school a ton of press like the Louisville win, but I simply don’t consider them as important as scheduling schools listed under #1 and #2 in terms of building the UH brand. Since opponents are scheduled several years in advance, I’m taking into consideration a team’s overall brand longevity and history. Bringing Oregon back to Houston may bring out a few hardcore Ducks fans and some t-shirt fans, but if the Ducks fall off and go 6-6 for a few years their brand would falter, whereas a Notre Dame will still bring tons of fans to Houston even if they’re having a few down years.

#4 The best of the Group of Five

When looking to schedule schools from the Group of Five, the Coogs should look at scheduling the best opponents, period. On that list I would include: Boise State, Nevada, Utah State, Northern Illinois, Fresno State, etc.

#5 Group of Five schools from the region

After going through the list of the best G5 schools, the Coogs should look at schools from the region. Mostly I would focus on Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Schools like North Texas, Texas State, UTSA, Louisiana, LA-Monroe, LA-Tech, and Arkansas State may not bring tons of attention nationally for UH, but they’d be respectable opponents and may generate a decent amount of casual interest in the area. Also, they’d be a lot more respectable wins than beating up on a FCS school.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully this guide helps the school’s administrators decide which schools the Cougars should be scheduling in the future. The goal is to help the Cougars build their national brand and increase their relevancy. Houston is a tough market for sports and playing better opponents will only help the program. I’m not worried about opponents who bring tons of fans into TDECU, as long as Coog fans are loud and the stadium is sold out… and the Cougars win of course!

In case you haven’t seen it: Houston’s future non-conference opponents list is here.

5 thoughts on “A criteria for determining future UH football opponents

  1. It would be nice to schedule those top P5 programs. However the athletic department is looking for P5’s that will schedule a home and home, and those top flight P5’s you mentioned are only willing to play the Coogs at their home stadium. They aren’t willing to come to TDECU.

    1. They may be willing to play at NRG and I’d be fine with that, just like the Oklahoma game next year. Gives them exposure in the Houston market to potential recruits.

  2. I wouldn’t mind the Coogs playing a home game at NRG on occasion. If they started playing one there every season it would get annoying. If it were up to me I would never agree to play any of the in-state P5 schools at NRG. If we play a home and home with any of them the game in Houston must be played at TDECU.

  3. You didn’t mention Rice as a Regional G5 program UH could play.

    The Bayou Bucket has been revived and should be on the schedule every year. Going back to a Home and Home series is better than playing at the Texans Stadium.

    Yes, Rice fans and alumni don’t show up as well as UL-L, TXST or UTSA fans would; however, a series with Rice would be a local game every year which would allow for local/regional UH fans to support the team, cost efficient for UH Athletics and it would provide the team to play for a trophy after going through a tough two-a-day fall practice schedule (nothing like earning a reward early). Rivalry/trophy games are just plain fun for players and fans alike.

    Go Coogs and let’s keep the Bayou Bucket!

    1. I didn’t mention Rice only because I assumed it’s a given that’d we’d be playing them in the Bayou Bucket for the near future. I was more trying to discuss schools who may not be on our regular rotation for scheduling. I agree, there’s no reason we should be playing them at NRG, we need to bring them to TDECU!

Comments are closed.