Warning: This is not the article you think it is, or want to read, but it’s the article you need right now.
Take a good look at this picture. This was taken during the 2nd home game ever to be played at TDECU stadium on September 6, 2014. Granted, this was the 2nd home game after a disappointing inaugural TDECU stadium loss, under HC Tony Levine. I understand. I feel you. The Levine years were lackluster after Sumlin. Oh, let’s be honest – after Case Keenum. Let’s be honest – Sumlin was always propelled by a QB someone else picked.
But this picture – I want it seared in every UH alumni and fan’s mind over the next few months. This picture represents a primary issue for Cougar football. Not the one and only – that whole non-power conference thing is hard to shake – but it does make an uncomfortable statement about this college football organization. We don’t show up unless we’re promised wins. And I’m sorry, but that’s not gonna cut it.
We do have a loyalty problem, but it starts at home.
We shouldn’t, either. The last 3 seasons have given UH fans and alumni a record of 18-3 at home. This season capped off a 15 home game winning streak that began in 2014. If you’re headed to a game at TDECU on any given Saturday (or Thursday, from time to time), you’re likely to celebrate a victory. But, that hasn’t filled seats. It has allowed for an inaugural season average attendance of less than 30K in a 40K capacity stadium.
Upon being hired for 2015, Coach Herman threw out the challenge for the city to start showing up for the team. In his 1st year, that average attendance record slightly increased to almost 34K (primarily boosted at the end of the season), but Herman was still begging for fans to show up in November. This season opened up with sellout games, and an average attendance record boost to almost 39K, but after the Navy loss, empty seats were abundant.
Fans, alumni, Houston – we can’t keep doing this. It’s an insult to the school, players, and city. It’s an insult to the students who voted for a student fee in overwhelming numbers to help fund the new stadium. It’s an insult to donors like the Yokubaitis family, who pledged $10 million for the project. It’s an insult to the school’s largest cheerleader and donor the school’s ever had in Tilman Fertitta who is putting his name behind this school’s athletic program’s future.
Yeah, I know. Remember Hofheinz. But also remember that donors get things done. Credit should be given where it is due, and both Chancellor Dr. Rhenu Khator and Chairman Tilman Fertitta have worked tirelessly to bring the school not only into the 21st century in general, but to establish upgrades in athletic facilities required to even be able to compete and draw a spotlight from the NCAA. And their work has only begun.
Have faith in this board of regents who has brought along the likes of Sumlin and, even better, the most coveted HC in college football today – Mr. Tom Herman. They’ve done it before and they’ll do it again. We’re not going to see another Levine era open up because of Herman’s departure. Cougar football was still being built, and that’s why they stuck with Levine. Where we’re at now is an on-the-cusp team that will attract talent.
For those of you upset or blindsided by Herman’s departure – we should have seen this coming. As soon as the doors closed on the possible Big 12 expansion, we should have known Herman’s days were numbered. It’s not his fault, either. He outgrew the team as soon as those doors were closed. Sad, but true. If you wanna be mad, I don’t blame you, but be mad at the system. Don’t be mad at Herman.
If you wanna preach loyalty, then let’s see it. In fact, I wanna see caps and shirts next time I’m out milling around in Houston. I wanna see fans stop in and get a shirt, or a sticker, or a pennant from the book store. Or even Academy. I wanna see fans step up and put their money where their mouth is. Let’s keep attending games. Let’s keep standing behind our players. Hell, let’s start Cougar football traditions.
Let’s just start supporting our team. HTownTakeover doesn’t have to end today. Let’s keep it going. Every game, every season, win or lose. Keep looking at that half empty stadium, and declare that era to be done. That’s the loyalty we need. So let’s do it. Go Coogs!