Great crowd, unworthy opponent
Time to grow up: Houston football should be above blowing out FCS wimps likeTexas State
The only people who proved anything in the University of Houston's 68-28 season-opening win over Texas State were sitting in the stands.
Cougar fans showed that they're invested and interested, creating a 32,000-strong sea of red at Robertson Stadium Saturday night. And that attendance figure is the only statistic that means anything from this game.
Otherwise, this looms as a largely wasted opportunity for a program that's trying to put itself on the map as a major college football player. Houston blew out an FCS team — a school that's a whole tier below the Cougars legit Division I FBS status — in one of the only opening weekend games involving a Top 50 team that couldn't be seen on TV anywhere. If that's progress, then Machetedeserves to sweep the Oscars.
This mean it doesn't even count toward the Cougars' bowl eligibility because it's against a second-tier school. Essentially, Houston is still 0-0 heading into this Friday night's matchup with UTEP in the minds of the bowl committees. This was slightly more meaningful than an NFL preseason game. Slightly.
Sure, it doesn't hurt quarterback Case Keenum's Heisman campaign that he threw for five touchdowns and 274 yards in a half before putting on the baseball cap. But it helps a lot less than even a decent performance against a real FBS team that was shown on TV would have. The Cougars couldn't find one team among the other 119 FBS squads interested in coming to Robertson?
Yes, some mega programs set up wipeouts against FCS opponents too. But that's one reason Houston should be trying harder not to do it. UH isn't West Virginia in college football. The Cougars are still building their brand — and when every little bit of respect counts, you need to grab every opportunity. Scheduling Texas State doesn't do that.
And you're wondering why you can watch the University of Cincinnati's season opener on TV in Houston and not UH's?
To its credit, the leadership in Houston's athletic department seem to recognize the program's glaring TV problem, even scheduling those Texas high school football controversial Friday night lights games to get on ESPN.
But you can't moan about respect, wonder why you're not in the Top 25 and then ... turn around and play Texas State. It was 54-7 Houston at halftime and the Cougars were somehow the ones who still needed to save face. It was almost like ever-underrated Houston coach Kevin Sumlin knew he needed to keep this score down, to make sure the game didn't seem even more ridiculous than it was to the rest of the college football world. As usual, Sumlin made the smart decision.
But it can't change the reality that Rice showed more in losing by 17 points to Texas than Houston did in winning by 40.
The largest college football crowd in Robertson Stadium history isn't going to be turned off by seeing Keenum throw three touchdown passes longer than 34 yards. But those folks are largely UH's already-committed core audience. What exactly did Houston gain from this night?
It's a question that a program that rightly wants to be bigger, bolder and better needs to ask itself far more often.