The Case for Houston to the Big 12: Economic Impact

Last Updated on June 5, 2014

With Texas A&M’s official announcement that it is leaving the Big 12, at least one school can expect a call from the conference. I think the case can be made for several schools to the Big 12, which is why I think now is the time for the conference to get back to twelve members and attempt to solidify its future.

This is one of four pieces making the case for University of Houston to receive an invite to the Big 12. The other pieces can be found at and Links follow this piece.

City of Houston:

Being in a conference like the Big 12 generally means bigger crowds at home games. Out-of-town visitors are likely to stay a night or two, eat in local restaurants and make other purchases in local establishments.

A move to the Big 12 for U of H could mean even more than the bump you naturally get from moving to a conference where you’ll host teams like Texas and Oklahoma. U of H already has plans to build a new football stadium and upgrade the basketball arena. It’s expected to build a new stadium that seats 40,000 to 50,000, but if they received an invite to the Big 12 I could see them going to 60,000. As a side note, no Big 12 stadium holds less than 50,000.

New construction means a positive economic impact on the local community and job creation. A study on the construction of a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings predicted 8,000-13,400 jobs. The Marlins expect to create 5,000 jobs with construction of their new stadium. Both projects are larger in scale than the U of H construction of a new football stadium and renovations to the basketball arena, but you get the picture.

Although U of H already has plans to construct a new football stadium and expand the basketball arena, it stands to reason that there is greater potential to raise the money and make it a reality if they were to join a major conference. Both projects would likely be grander in scale as well.

Another opportunity in Houston would involve the use of another stadium: Reliant Park. I spoke with David Tagliarino, Director of Sponsorship and Sports Marketing for SMG – Reliant Park, and asked about the relationship between Reliant Park and University of Houston. He discussed hosting the Final Four with U of H this year and how the two will partner again to host the event in 2016. “As it relates to football, we’ve hosted a lot of Houston games,” Tagliarino said. “We have a great relationship with them.”

When asked if there was a formal agreement in place to host home football games when Houston razes Robertson Football Stadium and builds a new stadium, Tagliarino said no. However, he noted they’ve had conversations where they’ve reaffirmed their commitment to do anything they can to help U of H as a partner. “If we can end up playing a role to assist U of H while they go through upgrades or reconstruction, and there’s a role we can play as a temporary home, that’s something we’re interested in doing.” He followed up by noting Reliant Park’s first priority is the Texans and accommodating their needs and that there are financial issues to work out with U of H. However, he said they would work through those if the opportunity arose to host games.

Yesterday, it was announced that the Bayou Bucket rivalry game between U of H and Rice will be played at Reliant Park in 2012 and 2013. State Farm is a title sponsor of the game and Fox Sports Network will be nationally televising the game. U of H Athletic Director Mack Rhoades said yesterday, “Moving this game to Reliant also allows us in the future to consistently have a minimum of seven games played in the City of Houston. We envision this rivalry extending beyond our fans to the entire city.”  

Will there be additional opportunities for Houston to play home games at Reliant Park beyond the reconstruction phase and the Bayou Bucket if they join the Big 12? Tagliarino says he’s sure U of H hopes to have a new stadium on campus to showcase for home games, but that it will likely seat only 40,000-50,000. Reliant Park seats 72,000 and has over 200 suites.

Asked his opinion of U of H moving to the Big 12, Tagliarino said, “If it’s the direction [U of H] wants  to go, we’d be in absolute support of that.”

What kind of money can a U of H home game played at Reliant Park bring in? The Texans and Lone Star Sports & Entertainment, a subsidiary of the Texans, commissioned a study on the Meinke Car Care Bowl of Texas and found it to have an economic impact of $25 million. Attendance at last year’s game between Illinois and Baylor was 68,211, just shy of full capacity. Tagliarino says he thinks a game featuring Houston against Texas or Oklahoma would sell out, although he notes Texas fans would likely not stay the night like bowl game attendees.

There’s evidence to suggest Tagliarino is right about the possibility of sell outs. During the Southwest Conference Era (1976-1995), Houston was home to some large crowds, including a game against Texas that drew 72,124 fans and one against Texas A&M that drew over 70,000, both played at Rice University. Other games played at the Astrodome, which seated fewer, drew well over 50,000 fans.

Although Robertson Football Stadium holds just 32,000, there’s a reason U of H has plans to build a new stadium. In the past two seasons, the capacity has been exceeded six times: UTEP (2010), Texas State (2010), Texas Tech (2009), Mississippi State (2010), Tulane (2010) and UCF (2010). Average home attendance in 2010 was 99.15% of capacity, exceeded by only three members of the Big 12, one of whom is departing Texas A&M:

Oklahoma                           103.20%

Texas                                    100.53%

Texas A&M                         99.37%

Kansas State                      95.43%

Texas Tech                          94.47%

Kansas                                  92.30%

Missouri                               86.67%

Oklahoma State                84.38%

Iowa State                          82.54%

Baylor                                   80.09%

Although all of those stadiums are larger than Robertson Football Stadium, but it’s obvious U of H needs to expand. Not only did they exceed capacity for five of six home games last year, but the sixth against Tulsa still had the stadium at 93.89% capacity. Season ticket sales increased by 82% for the 2010 football season and were up 136% over the past two years. With the goal of increasing on-campus residential living to 25% of enrolled students by 2015 and plans to integrate the Metro light rail and express bus lines into campus, there’s every reason to believe attendance increases will continue for U of H. Not to mention Big 12 opponents are likely to travel better than U of H’s current Conference USA opponents.

It’s not all about football either. U of H boasts many athletic facilities that have played host to conference and NCAA events. See my piece on Forbes for more details on individual facilities. A move to the Big 12 could mean Houston would be the site for many more events, both on the conference and national level, which would mean big money for the city and the state. No other city in the Big 12 has infrastructure that matches Houston’s.

The real question is whether University of Texas would be in favor of adding U of H. Its endorsement could go a long way. Based on the positive economic impact on the City of Houston, and thereby the State of Texas, and the ability to supplant some of the rivalries lost by A&M’s departure, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some Texas politicians leap into action. If they can convince University of Texas to exert its influence over the Big 12, U of H has a real shot.

Big 12:

Although the Big 12 already gets a portion of the Houston market with its other Texas schools, adding U of H opens additional doors. Being in the market is different than simply having access to the market. Houston is the nation’s 6th largest radio market and 10th largest television market. (For more on this, see my piece on Forbes about ratings for both the Big 12 and U of H in Houston.) It’s also the fourth largest U.S. city. Houston is also the second-most fertile recruiting ground in the Big 12’s footprint, with 140 prospects from Houston signing letters of intent for FBS schools in 2011.

If that’s not enough, twenty-five of the companies listed in the Fortune 500 are headquartered in Houston, the third largest concentration in the United States. In addition, more than 3,500 U of H alums serve as President or CEO of their companies, including CEO Richard Anderson at Delta Airlines, CEO Karen Katz at Neiman Marcus, CEO Douglas Brooks at Brinker International and many more. Five of the six major energy companies in the United States are based in Houston.

Why is this important? Adding U of H gives the Big 12 a better ability to market to Houston-based businesses. Consider this: the Big 12’s corporate sponsors pale in comparison to the SEC. Although I don’t have the value of the sponsorships, the sheer difference in number of corporate partners is staggering. The Big 12 lists Chick-Fil-A, Dr. Pepper, Gatorade G Series, Motel 6, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Phillips 66 and Sirius/XM. Meanwhile, the SEC’s list includes: Allstate, AT&T, Dr. Pepper, Regions Bank, Aaron Rents, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Gatorade G Series, Golden Flake, Gulf Shore and Orange Beach, Macy’s, Merita, Iron Planet, Sonic, Texas Pete, UPS and Sirius/XM.

Let’s recap. Adding U of H to the Big 12 gives the conference a tangible location in the nation’s fourth-largest city, and one of the largest media markets. It gives the conference access to some of the largest companies in the nation. The conference would have a school located in the second-most fertile recruiting ground in the country. Sounds good so far.

This is one part of a four-part series. For pieces on the economic impact of U of H moving to the Big 12 and how it fits in both on the field and as a conference member, check out these links to the other three parts of the series on and

The Case for University of Houston: Media Market, Academics, Facilities (by Kristi Dosh on

Commitment Makes Houston Cougars Smart Choice for Big 12 Invite (by Chadd Scott on

Houston Cougars Were An Athletic Powerhouse and Can Be Again (by Chadd Scott on


  • Kristi Dosh

    Kristi A. Dosh is the founder of and has served as a sports business analyst and contributor for outlets such as Forbes, ESPN, SportsBusiness Journal, Bleacher Report, SB Nation and more. She is also the author of a book on the business of college football, Saturday Millionaires. Kristi is a sought-after consultant and speaker on topics related to the business of college sports and a former practicing attorney. Click to learn more

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  • Aaron
    September 1, 2011

    Re: Ratings in the city of Houston. UH only appears in the top 10 ratings for Houston once in the last two years – the game you mention against Tech.

    From Houston Chronicle:


    Game (Network) Rating/share

    Texas-Nebraska (ABC) 15.7/26

    Texas-Texas A&M (ESPN) 13.5/26

    Florida-Alabama (CBS) 12.3/25

    Texas Tech-Texas (ABC) 10.9/20

    Texas-Oklahoma (ABC) 10.8/28

    Kansas-Texas (ABC) 9.0/16

    Texas-Oklahoma State (ABC) 8.9/18

    Texas Tech-Houston (ESPN2) 7.9/NA

    Texas-Missouri (ABC) 7.7/14

    Texas Tech-Nebraska (ABC) 6.7/15

    Florida-LSU (CBS) 6.8/12

    Colorado-Texas (ESPN) 6.6/12

    LSU-Alabama (CBS) 6.3/15

    LSU-Georgia (CBS) 5.5/12

    Florida State-Florida (CBS) 5.3/12

    Auburn-Alabama (CBS) 5.2/12


    Game (Network) Rating/share

    Texas-Texas Tech (ABC) 16.2/29

    Texas Tech-Oklahoma (ABC) 11.6/20

    Texas-Oklahoma (ABC) 10.9/26

    Oklahoma State-Texas (ABC) 10.2/24

    Oklahoma-Texas Tech (ABC) 9.4/17

    Oklahoma-Oklahoma State (ABC) 9.3/16

    Florida-Alabama (CBS) 9.1/20

    Missouri-Oklahoma (ABC) 7.6/14

    Alabama-LSU (CBS) 6.1/13

    LSU-Florida (CBS) 5.2/10

    Penn State-Ohio State (ABC) 5.2/10

  • Jake
    September 1, 2011

    @Aaron. And if they played more teams like Tech (i.e., other Big 12 teams) on a regular basis, they’d be on that list man times over. Houston is a sleeping giant.

    • Jake
      September 1, 2011

      *many, not man

  • Bobarino
    September 1, 2011

    LMAO. not a chance UH gets in. Terrible idea for everyone but UH.

  • Bobarino
    September 1, 2011

    @Jake…that had nothing to do with UH, and everything to do with Tech

  • JWilson
    September 1, 2011

    Tech was on the 2010 list 3 times, with Houston being the 2nd most watched. The first was against Texas and I could say that was because of Texas.

    You get UH playing decent regional opponents and we will fill that list.

    Also…where are the Aggies? I only see them on the list when they play Texas…I can say that is because of Texas also.

    You give Houston 1/2 the resources of a BCS school and we can take on anyone.

  • Jake
    September 1, 2011

    @Bobarino. Yeah…you are probably right. I’m sure Texas Tech vs Iowa State is just blowing the lid off the Houston media market.

  • JWilson
    September 1, 2011

    Outside of the univerisy of Texas, UH playing a big 12 opponent was the MOST watched B-12 game on TV last year.

  • Jake
    September 1, 2011

    @JWilson, and if we employed some of the logic of the naysayers here, we could very well say that is all because of UH.

    Go Coogs!

  • Cougar High (@Cougar_High)
    September 1, 2011

    Kristi, it looks like you and Chad did a lot of research for these articles. However, it’s also obvious that you guys did not get a chance to visit Houston and the UH campus. Like in your trip to St. Louis where interest for Mizzou was minimal, you would have noticed the total lack of interest for UH athletics here in the Houston area.

    No doubt UH is growing for the better. There’s lots of construction on campus. Hopefully, a lot of that is dorms, so UH can become less of a commuter school. However, that is an accurate label of what UH is; a commuter school. I should know. I’m a graduate (Class of ’93!) who like 90% of the student body, lived off campus. You should see the traffic jams right after class lets out at 11:50 am. There is a mad rush to get on the neaby Gulf Freeway and go anywhere else.

    Why is there such a rush to leave campus? Many students have jobs to go to, but for those who don’t there is no reason to hang out on campus. Unfortunately, the campus is located in a run-down part of Houston similar to area around Turner Field in Atlanta. The area is slowly gentrifying, but that’s a process that in this case will probably take another 20 to 30 years before the area becomes somewhat respectable.

    You are correct in that there is a lot of corporate money in Houston. Unfortunately, most of those corporations are headed by people that did not go to UH.

    Houston is a pro sports town. Sports talk radio revolves around the mediocre Texans. College talk is dominated by the Longhorns and Aggies. I’m also pretty sure from bumper stickers and other auto decorations that there is more interest in LSU than in UH athetics.

    A new stadium will only attract big crowds if the UH football team becomes a regular fixture in the Top 20. This hasn’t happened since the glory days of the 70s and late 80s (the run and shoot era). I’m not holding my breath for things to change.

    Houston is a growing city and a great (affordable) place to live. But at this point UH is on the periphery when it comes to college athletics.

    • JWilson
      September 1, 2011

      You based your facts on anecdotal evidence from your time at the school nearly 20 years ago, whereas we are bringing up facts of just last year.

    • Jeff
      September 1, 2011

      @Cougar High …. Class of 80 here (yeah, I’m an old timer.) Ditto on everything you said. Plus I’m not sure if it’s worth the effort for UH to join a dying conference. In 10 years or less the Big 12 will no longer be a BCS conference.

    • ProudCougar
      September 1, 2011

      This post obviously comes from a troll who has every interest in casting negative light on all that is great about UH (see their tag…says is all). Good try poser!

      And, GO COOGS!!!

    • Grad 81
      September 1, 2011

      Boy, and you went to all that trouble to read the article and write that long negative script. It’s ok, we will allow you to turn back in your UH degree and see where you’d be without it. Go lay your egg somewhere else.

    • Maybe you went to Cougar High, but not everyone did.
      September 2, 2011

      Wow @Cougar High, you graduated almost 20 years ago, must have forgotten a few things…

      Here’s what a 2 second google search of University of Houston business alum gave me, i just picked just a few, you’ll see some are based here in Houston and employ thousands of people — that are interns who attended U of H and now are employees:

      Richard H. Anderson CEO, Delta Air Lines

      Mary Kay Ash Founder, Mary Kay Cosmetics

      John F. Baugh Founder, Sysco Corporation IN HOUSTON

      Rod Canion Co-founder, Compaq HOUSTON

      Karen Katz President and CEO, Neiman Marcus main office in Dallas, while HOUSTON hosts most prestigious events and visits.

      Louis B. Katopodis President and CEO, Fiesta Mart HOUSTON

      Fran Keeth President and CEO, Shell Chemical, LP HOUSTON

      Donita R. Koval President and CEO, Omega Bank

      David McClanahan President and CEO, CenterPoint Energy HOUSTON

      Matt Mullenweg Founding developer of WordPress (you know, the blog company that created the comment box you used here)

      Lane Sloan Former CFO, Shell Oil Company, Former President and CEO Shell Chemical Company HOUSTON

      David A. Williams President and CEO, Make-A-Wish Foundation

      Bruce Williamson Chairman, CEO, and President, Dynegy

      Well, we all know that NONE of the above corporate leaders have given the campus any donations. FALSE — if you had read on the U of H website, there is a *ton* of corporate donations. What U of H doesn’t have is “oil rights” money from the state of TX, like Baylor, A&M, and UT — that the got when those older universities were formed, but you know that.

      Have you forgotten Phi Slama Jama? Hakeem, Clyde, and other athletes rocking our sports history? Carl Lewis, you might know of him, he’s a runner — has also led U of H in athletics, with a great contribution towards track and field. You also might remember that the university of Houston is one of the few universities that has MORE WOMEN’S TEAMS than MEN’S in their athletic department. Men have 6, women have 8.

      Don’t get me started on baseball. Or golf.

      Shannon Miller, who has won more medals than any other American in gymnastics… yes, she’s a graduate.

      You probably don’t know about the $47 MILL award winning recreation center receives 15,000 vistors weekly, or the $12 MILL renovation that the Hilton at U of H, which is home to the prestigious Conrad Hilton Hotel for Hotel and Restaurant Management just got last year. Do you know about the upscale and private housing that was just built for grad students 2 years ago? or that U of H just DOUBLED their on-campus housing in the last years? And guess what, people actually live there!

      HMMMM, let’s not over-look the Law school or Bauer school for business. Those are pretty successful programs.

      James Franco just announced he’s attending U of H to study Journalism next year. Dan Rather did that, and he came out okay.

      More importantly, a big reason why U of H would be a perfect fit for the big 12 is ACADEMICS. Our academic programs trump our athletic programs, but isn’t that what is most important in a University?

      A large majority of money invested in U of H is from alumni donations and corporate endowments, which I doubt you contribute to. I’m sad to see how underwhelmed you are by the University of Houston. I mean, for someone who graduate from the second most DIVERSE school (second to NYU), you really are ignorant about your own university.

    • Ken
      September 2, 2011

      Are you sure you are not a closet Longhorn….

  • Jake
    September 1, 2011

    Ha ha, that’s awesome! Someone hates UH so much as to make their own twiiter account under the name Cougar High. Kudos sir, Ku-dos. This sort of hatred for the UH is exactly why we capture the Houston media market. It’s the synergy between the UH alums and the alums of other schools that just love to hate us for whatever reason.

    I think what bothers a lot of them is that UH is an excellent Tier 1 University right in their hometown and that makes it harder to justify why they traveled to some dust-bowl like Lubbock to pay for an inferior education.

  • Cole
    September 1, 2011

    Sounds like Cougar High is the real problem. A proclaimed graduate that has no real knowledge of the schools aspirations and projects that are ongoing to change the campus culture for the better, yet decides its a good idea to get on the internet and downplay the efforts of his alma mater. You sir, are NOT the Pride.

  • Cougar M
    September 1, 2011

    Cougar High,

    I respectfully disagree with your assessment of the University of Houston and I have to wonder, for someone who went to UH during the early 90’s, how you can write about UH without acknowledging UH’s history in the SWC, and their tradition of sports respectability. Furthermore, I find it hard to believe that someone who graduated from UH would use username “Cougar High”. The Cougar High label is dated, and was used by the state school elites of old. You’re better off taking jabs at UH’s poor sports facilities and conference affiliation if you want to ruffle some feathers.

    UH is increasingly showing how great of an academic institution it is and has plans in place to continue to push further its reputation past its recently awarded Tier I status – which is a status, as far as I know, Texas Tech (a school in the Big 12) has yet to obtain.

    UH is not a traditional school, you are correct. From my experience there, however, most students left campus to attend their part-time jobs or take care of families, and not to escape the “run-down” that you implied. People who have actually ventured out into the community can tell you first-hand that there is nothing to be in a mad rush about – believe me, it’s not that bad. You should take some time to meet the community around UH – if you’re not afraid, that is.

    I also agree that Houston is dominated by major profession sports teams. It can be a challenge to deal with in terms of fan support. The University of Miami has a similar problem, and one glance at their attendance records will show they struggle to put 40,000 fans in seats despite being in the ACC.

    The point is this: UH is changing. And it’s changing for the better. Students want to go there, and each year UH is having to deny more and more students admission. It doesn’t have the money of a UT or A&M or the privileges that come with it, but UH has done fantastic with the cards its been dealt. UH is in a better position than it was 20 years ago, and now has the right people in place to take UH to the next step. Being in a BCS conference will allow UH to showcase what many all ready know, but haven’t had the platform to proclaim it in years: UH is a great institution and can compete with anyone in the Nation.

  • Brian
    September 1, 2011


    After looking at the ratings data in your Forbes piece, I’m left with a few questions.

    How much more interested would fans in Houston be of non-UH B12 games?

    Would the rest of the B12 footprint watch UH? For example, how did that UH/TT game do in Dallas compared to B12 games?

    What would happen to national ratings for B12 games if UH replaces TAMU? Would FSN suffer (I’m assuming they’d rarely make ABC)?

    • JWilson
      September 1, 2011

      We have done fine with non B-12 games as shown below, and we are not claiming to bring the Dallas market any more than the Aggies brought the Houston market. According to the figures above, the Aggies were only listed when they played UT.

      8.1 Houston vs. Texas Tech (2009)

      5.9 Average ratings of Big 12 games on ESPN in 2009

      4.7 Average ratings of Big 12 games on ABC in 2009

      4.7 Houston vs. East Carolina (2009)

      4.5 Houston vs. UTEP (2010)

      1.5 Average ratings of Big 12 games not feature Texas-based schools

      • Brian
        September 2, 2011

        My point was, just because UH is in the B12 doesn’t mean that fans outside of Houston see them as a legitimate AQ team. Will fans in KS watch UH just as much as TT or Baylor? Will fans outside of B12 country watch UH as much as TT or Baylor? These are important questions for the TV deal I would think.

  • David
    September 1, 2011

    UH has _not_ been awarded “Tier One” status. The Carnegie Foundation does not use that term. Just because Cougar boosters keep saying it doesn’t make it true. This is an important point because a number of Texas public schools are trying to achieve this status under state law. UH is among those who have not yet achieved it.

    By the most broadly accepted standards, there are only three Tier One universities in Texas and only one of those is in Houston: Rice.

    That said, good luck to UH in the future.

    • Janete
      May 20, 2012

      Burns Bar BQ8307 De Priest St , Houston , TX , 77088-6215This mostly carry out spot is a fatrvioe for slow hickory-smoked barbecue, fresh made sides and North Houston charm.The Diner1017 61st St , Galveston , TX , 77551This understated and simply named cafe is an Island fatrvioe, fueling fishing enthusiasts and other early-risers for years.Quattro at Four Seasons Houston1300 Lamar St , Houston , TX , 77010Four Seasons restaurant features fashionable Italian dining in Euro-sleek style.YAO Restaurant & Bar9755 Westheimer Rd , Houston , TX , 77042Houston Rocket Yao Ming brings big (literally), bold decor and classic Chinese dishes to his namesake restaurant.Mama’s Cafe6019 Westheimer Rd , Houston , TX , 77057-4501Southern-fried comfort food in a homey, late-night setting.Amazon Grill5114 Kirby Dr , Houston , TX , 77098-5012A “come as you are” South American eatery from the people who brought you Americas and Churrascos.Charivari Restaurant-Home Of European Cuisine2521 Bagby St , Houston , TX , 77006Old World charm graces the table with a warm mix of European classics.Becks Prime1001 E Memorial Loop , Houston , TX , 77007This homegrown chain of upscale drive-thrus is known for its grilled swordfish sandwiches and thick strawberry milkshakes.Damian’s Cucina Italiana3011 Smith St , Houston , TX , 77006Perched on the edge of downtown, this eatery balances novelty Italian with a palatable sophisticated freshness.Lupe Tortilla’s2414 Southwest Fwy , Houston , TX , 77098-4602Family-friendly and Tex-Mex skilled, this outpost satisfies the craving for home-style fare in a cheerfully painted casa.Romano’s Pizza1528 W Gray St , Houston , TX , 77019-4948This little slice of Italy is a gem among chains, vying to make pies you can’t refuse.Spindletop1200 Louisiana St , Houston , TX , 77002Hyatt Regency’s revolving restaurant is still a fatrvioe for special occasions.Chez Nous217 S Avenue G , Humble , TX , 77338Fine French dining that’s well worth the drive.Luigi’s Ristorante Italiano2328 Strand St , Galveston , TX , 77550-1548Reminiscent of a cozy trattoria, this posh restaurant serves up good Italian fare in a casual yet upscale setting.Azuma-Downtown909 Texas Ste E , Houston , TX , 77002This trendy downtown version of the West U staple gives sushi lovers a new reason to stay in town after work.

  • Jake
    September 2, 2011

    Yes, David, you are correct. Carnegie no longer uses the term “Tier 1.” They now separate universities into different classifications. By that standard, UH has received Carnegie’s highest classification, “Very High Research Activity.” In common parlance many people, both internal and external to the UH community, continue to refer to this classification as “Tier 1.” Debating the appropriateness of such use misses the point entirely — UH is classified by Carnegie as being among the highest public research institutions in Texas and the nation at large. With the exception of the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M College Station, no other public university in Texas can lay claim to that superlative.

  • David
    September 2, 2011

    UH can be proud of gaining the Carnegie recognition. The state government of Texas, however, officially views UH as an “emerging research university.” That’s why UH gets state money specifically designed to help it reach the highest tier of research universities. “Tier One” is a loaded term in the Texas higher education community these days – that’s why it shouldn’t be used lightly.

  • Cougar High (@Cougar_High)
    September 2, 2011

    I knew my post was going to ruffle some feathers (or should I make that whiskers!). That’s ok. It’s great to see that there is a lot of Cougar pride out there! I’m proud too, but I’m not blindly loyal.

    Myopic Coogars who tell me that UH is a Big XII candidate sound just as delusional as the Big XII brass who insist that Notre Dame and Arkansas are credible targets for the Big XII. What’s worse is that I’ve heard this exact line of thinking before, almost word for word.

    Nearly 20 years ago, when the SWC was breaking up, the UH higher-ups decided to join C-USA thinking that it was just a stepping stone to eventually joining the SEC! I heard the exact same arguments then: media market size, past football and basketball glories, etc. They were wrong then and they are just as wrong now.

    What really matters in this whole re-alignment business before tv market size and past glories is fan-base size. Exibit A is Nebraska joining the Big Ten instead of Missouri. Yes, increasing the footprint of your conference to include an emerging TV market is important too, but the SEC chose A&M over let’s say, Baylor, largely because of A&M’s huge fan-base.

    How do you increase the UH fan base? Winning and winning BIG!!! That’s the only way to get the attention of the average Houston area sports fan. By winning big, I mean going on a Boise State or TCU-like run. UH has to dominate C-USA and make it to a BCS bowl on a consistent basis and then you’ll have real interest in the UH brand. Otherwise we’re just wasting our time.

    Finally, 2 things.

    1. I use the CougarHigh tag with a sense of irony. I’m aware of the history behind the label. Since it’s mainly used by lame Tsips and silly Aggies, that takes a lot of the sting out of it and therefore I use it with sense of pride. I guess some folks just don’t get my sense of humor. So be it.

    2. My apologies to the folks who live in the 3rd Ward where UH is located. The area is not anywhere as crime-ridden as most suburban Houstonians make it out to be. Still, it’s not destination location for most Houstonians unless they are going to UH to study or to attend an event at Robertson Stadium, such as a Cougar game. If the neighborhood was more inviting, more students would live closer to the campus and theoretically more fans would attend games. Just sayin’!

  • Ken
    September 2, 2011

    Too many UT trolls on this site…

  • Jake
    September 4, 2011

    Great win by the Coogs yesterday!

  • superdestroyer
    September 4, 2011

    It makes do sense to add Houston to the Big 12. College football is headed to there being four conferences of 16 teams. Those 64 schools will mainly be the universities that have hangers-on (fans of the football team that have no connection to the university such as being an alumni or parent of a student). The big time sports programs such as Alabama, Florida, Penn State benefit from having a huge number of sports hangers-on (also known as Wal-Mart Alumni).

    UH, Rice, TCU, SMU do not have Wal-Mart Alumni. UH cannot get its own students to come out for sports events, let alone any casual fans.

    In the long run, the schools without Wal-Mart alumni such as the members of Conference USA, Sunbelt, MAC, WAC will eventually have to get out of the college football business.

    The coming 64 team college teams will be those schools that have Wal-Mart along with a few schools in good positions such as STanford, Vanderbilt, Northwest, Duke, and Boston College.

  • Jake
    September 4, 2011

    “UH cannot get its own students to come out for sports events, let alone any casual fans.”

    LOL. You clearly didn’t watch the Coog victory over UCLA yesterday. The student section was sold out with loud and proud young Cougar fans. Keep perpetuating falsities though…

    Having Wal-mart fans is helpful, but it is by no means a prerequisite.

    • superdestroyer
      September 5, 2011


      UH has a student body of over 28K but has an on-campus football stadium of 30K. and does not sell out. That means many students are not going to the games.

      If you want to see the future of college sports, look at states like Georgia or Tennessee. Students at Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Georgia college, Augusta St are hangers-on fans of Georgia. The same can be seen in Tennessee where the student body of East Tennessee, Chattanooga, Austin Peay are all fans of the vols.

      If you look at the SEC, Big Ten, Virginia Tech; those schools have huge numbers of Wal-Mart alumni. Any schools that does not have Wal-Mart Alumni should consider getting out of Div I college football.

  • Rick
    September 4, 2011

    I rather go to Houston then to Lubbutt only thing up there is flying dirt. Remember if it was not for Ann Richards and Bob Bullock Baylor and Texas Tech would not be in the Big 12. UH will be fine where they end up. GO COOGS!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • superdestroyer
      September 5, 2011

      UH is not fine where it is now. It loses millions of student service fee and other regular university funds trying to compete with the schools that do have hangers-on. It does not lhelp the school to have a small stadium that is empty when UH is playing Tulane or East CArolina.

      Virtually all of the schools in Conference USA, SunBelt, WAC, and MAC would be better off without a football team. Having a losing program and losing million does nothing for the reputation of an university.

      • Jake
        September 5, 2011

        1. UH has a winning football program over the past 8 years or so beginning with Art Briles’ tenure, not to mention the rich sports history of the school including numerous conference championships, Phi Slamma Jamma, Lombardi and Heismann winners etc.

        2. Winning programs increase the visibility of their respective school. As one small example, UH’s 2009 victory over then #5/6 OSU brought much-welcomed national exposure to the University of Houston.

        3. Ignoring the marketing value of a national sports program for the sake of argument, only ~16 athletic departments of FBS schools turn a profit. By your line of reasoning, we should shut down all but ~20-25 schools in the FBS. See e.g.,

      • Jake
        September 5, 2011

        * 16% of athletic departments

  • raj
    September 29, 2011

    The University of Houston coming to the Big 12 makes financial sense for everyone, but it won’t happen because you haven’t researched the Big 12’s REAL president’s (Deloss Dodds) mind. UH will not get invited to the Big 12 because of ONE reason and ONE reason only – The University of Texas does not want competition from UH for the city of Houston’s football recruits. When UH was with UT in the SWC back in the 80’s, they used to beat UT regulary. UT president Deloss Dodds does not want to UH to hold on to its own recurits like they did back then, so he would rather dissolve the Big 12 before he invites Houston. BYU is his favorite option for an add on. TCU is a distant #2 because he doesn’t want them to hold on to their Dallas/Ft. worth recruits. He has nightmares and cold shivers just thinking about Houston.

  • raj
    September 29, 2011

    ** clarification of above post : Deloss Dodds is athletic director of UT ; Bill Powers is president
    Overall message remains the same.

  • Warren Bruhn
    October 16, 2011

    Kind of interesting that TCU is now in the Big 12, and that Houston and SMU might be getting into the Big East, which has an AQ spot (for now). So Dallas and Houston area high school recruits might have another AQ conference option anyway, even if the Big 12 didn’t want to give them other local options…

  • Dave
    October 19, 2011

    I am a graduate EE, class of 1969. Forget Cougar High. That term died decades ago. U of H is now one of the finest Universities in America.

  • Warren Bruhn
    October 19, 2011

    Hopefully U of Houston will continue to improve in both academics and sports. Hope the same for SMU. Maybe both will get a chance to move up the scale, at least in sports, with invitations to join the Big East.

  • Devil's advocate
    November 9, 2011

    I think you could make largely the same argument for Rice and still conclude that the Owls would not be a good addition to the Big 12. It’s my understanding that the people in Houston simply do not follow U of H, and I would further argue that U of H hasn’t put a product on field that will increase local interest, as TCU has done for nearly a decade now.

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