The Houston Cougars and Vanderbilt Commodores will meet for their second time in history on Saturday night at 6pm at TDECU Stadium. The Coogs and ‘Dores last met in the 2014 Compass Bowl, which Vandy won 41-24. The Cougars are 7-0 and Vandy is 3-4.
Coach Tom Herman looks to tie John Jenkins for the most wins in Houston history by a coach in his first season at the school. Jenkins and quarterback David Klingler went 8-0 in 1990 in route to a 10-1 regular season.
The Houston Cougars are 7-0 and ranked 18th in the latest AP poll. The only schools in Texas ranked higher than Houston are Baylor (#2) and TCU (#5). Glaringly absent from the AP top 25 is the state’s flagship programs Texas and Texas A&M.
Naturally the early success the rookie coach has been having on Cullen Boulevard has led to countless speculation that Coach Herman will soon leave Houston for a job at a Power 5 conference program. USC, Miami, and South Carolina are all looking for a new coach and the 2015 season is barely three-quarters finished.
Will He Leave?
Obviously, the only person that knows the answer to this question is Tom Herman. But I think Coach Herman may be in Houston longer than most people think. He knows he can recruit very well in Houston and he can build up a legacy here. There’s also still a decent probability that the Cougars are in a Power 5 conference within the next five years.
If Coach Herman only cared about being at a bigger name program, he could’ve stayed at Ohio State another year, watched his stock rise, and then taken a P5 coaching gig. He also knew he’d have his work cut out for him getting the program attention in the over-saturated Houston sports market, but has seemed to embrace the challenge.
Even though Houston is in the American Athletic Conference, coach Tom Herman has shown that the Coogs can recruit like a Big 12 school in spite of not having the same level of resources. The Houston metropolitan area has arguably the greatest collection of high school talent in the country. We’re not only becoming a magnet for players who want to stay local to play in front of friends and family, we’re also becoming attractive to players who want to transfer back home because they’re either homesick or didn’t get enough playing time.
Also, there’s a huge commitment from the school towards athletics. President Renu Khator and athletics director Hunter Yurachek are very shrewd and are working hard at pushing the Coogs’ forward. The university is firing on all cylinders to improve the school as well as the athletic programs. We’ve got a new football stadium and are about to open a new basketball development center. The school is also working on plans to renovate Hofheinz, add a baseball development facility, and also a football-only indoor practice center and weight room.
I can’t stress how important it is for the football program to have the university behind them like we do at UH. Everyone at the university has to be on board to be able to push a team towards greatness. There may be many big name coaching openings this year, but not all of those openings are willing to support athletics like we do at Houston.
If He Leaves
If Coach Herman does in fact decide to leave after this season, don’t worry Coog fans, it won’t be the end of the world. What y’all should realize is Coach Herman is helping prove that the University of Houston is one of the best, if not the best, Group of Five coaching job in the country. Every other up-and-coming college football coach as well as several veteran coaches are seeing right now that it is possible to win big at Houston and recruit well. These coaches are also seeing the commitment to winning from the university and the athletics department.
When a coach leaves Houston, we need them to have the level of success that Art Briles and Kevin Sumlin have had since leaving. Why? Because the next top assistant will want to come here emulate their path to success. This is what Herman is doing and if he leaves, we’ll go and get the next Herman. Whether Coach Herman decides to build a legacy here like Gary Patterson at TCU or stay for a few years and take another job, we’re still going to keep pushing for success.
FoxSports columnist Bruce Feldman writes about how Coach Herman is making the Coogs tougher and hopefully a championship-level team. Feldman also notes Coach Herman’s very strong eye for detail. Full story here.
Former Houston Cougar cornerback DJ Hayden had a big game for the Oakland Raiders this past weekend in their win over the Chargers. Hayden had ten tackles and an interception to help guide the Raiders to victory. Raiders’ defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr. and teammate Charles Woodson have nothing but praise for the former Coog in this article from 247 Sports.
We’re not getting into the meat of the Cougars’ 2015 football schedule. The Coogs are 7-0 but have four incredibly tough upcoming games left on their schedule:
Vanderbilt – Oct. 31st – at TDECU
Cincinnati – Nov. 7th – at TDECU
Memphis – Nov. 14th – at TDECU
at UConn – Nov. 21st – at UConn
Navy – Nov. 27th – at TDECU
Tom Herman was hired to take over the Houston football team to toughen the team up to prepare them to play championship level football in November, December, and possibly January. The Coogs have won lots of games but haven’t won a conference championship since 2006 during the Art Briles era. It’ll be interesting to see if the Coogs can pull it off and run the table.
After a sluggish start, the Coogs turned on the jets and left the UCF Knights in the dust yesterday in Orlando. The Coogs won 59-10 over the hapless Knights to move to 7-0 on the season and 4-0 in conference play. The Coogs also moved up to #18 in this weeks’ AP poll and #19 in the Coaches’ Poll.
On a bit of a sad note, the UCF Knights have parted ways with head coach George O’Leary today following the game. This was clearly a change that needed to be made, but I will offer a kudos to Coach O’Leary for everything he did for the UCF program. Coach O’Leary won four conference titles and a Fiesta Bowl with the Knights and was a constant thorn in the side of the Coogs. The other coach whom the Coogs got fired was the Texas State defensive coordinator.
The 6-0 Houston Cougars travel to Orlando tomorrow to face-off against the 0-7 UCF Knights. UCF is only two years removed from a Fiesta Bowl win over Baylor but has completely collapsed this year due to injuries and poor coaching.
During last year’s match-up in Houston the Cougars’ insipid offense got quarterback John O’Korn benched for Greg Ward, Jr. who moved back under center from wide receiver. In another example of Levine’s ineptitude, Ward was still returning punts the rest of the game while playing quarterback.
Ward nearly led the Coogs to an epic upset of the Knights, diving to the endzone for the game winning touchdown, but a UCF defender knocked the ball out of his hands and the Knights got the ball back. It was a crushing defeat and metaphor for how close the Levine regime was to actually doing bigger things. Football is a game of inches, as the saying goes, and a loss is a loss no matter how close.
Greg Ward, Jr. and the nationally ranked Cougars look to get revenge for last season’s close call and look to end the Knights’ four game winning streak in the series. The Cougars have only beaten the Knights once, which was way back in 2006, which was also the last time the Cougars won a conference title.
Even though the Knights are 0-7, look for the Coogs to go all out for four quarters and to not rest until the final seconds on the game clock winds down.