Houston could take a large bite out of the Texas Tech share of the Lone Star State
At first glance, most fans would laugh at the idea that Houston could become a power broker in the new Big 12. After all, the Cougars were picked just 12th out of 14 teams in this year’s preseason conference poll.
Additionally, that program has lost its last six games against Big 12 teams dating back to 2016. Also, it is a program that is an afterthought in a massive market that revolves around professional, not college sports.
Indeed, the Cougars play in a tiny stadium that is sparsely attended, even when the home team is relevant. Also, there is a great chance that the Dana Holgorsen era of Houston football may come to an end in the next year or two if the Cougars struggle and if the university leadership decides to spend some of its new-found Big 12 money on a buyout.
So why should Texas Tech fans consider Houston a potential future threat? Simply put…potential.
Just imagine if that program were to capitalize on all of its potential resources now that it has a seat at the Big 12 table. What if megadonor Tillman Fertitta, a billionaire who has the new Houston basketball arena and the Houston medical school named after him and who was reportedly influential in helping his alma mater land in the Big 12, decides to go all-in on Houston football the way T. Boone Pickens once did for Oklahoma State?
What if the Cougars now find a way to tap into the fertile Southeast Texas recruiting grounds? Could their presence in the Big 12 make them more attractive to big-time athletes who want to stay close to home but still play in a major conference?
Most importantly, what if Houston finds a football coach who can do for the Cougars what Kelvin Sampson has done for the U of H basketball program? If Sampson can form his program into one of the best in the nation, it isn’t all that far-fetched to believe that Houston football could rise up in a similar fashion.
In the immediate, the Cougars don’t seem to be poised to make any significant noise in the Big 12. On the other hand, the pieces are there for that program to rise to a new level. The first step was getting a piece of the Big 12 revenue pie. Now, it is up to the program’s leadership to capitalize on this opportunity.
If that starts a program renaissance similar to what TCU experienced when it joined the league after the last round of major NCAA realignment, Houston could be a problem in the future. So don’t be shocked if, in five or ten years, we view the Cougars in a much different light than we do presently.