University of Houston has made a coaching change for the second time in 3 years and the third time in 10 years. During this period of time we have posted 32 wins, while attending only one bowl game, the Liberty Bowl in 1996 with a loss to Syracuse. OUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So, with very little success over a decade, what can we do to have an optimistic view of the upcoming 2003 season? How do we look at our situation and remain positive as we approach the season?
PUT ON SOME ROSE COLORED GLASSES!
Here are some thoughts that can lead you to believe that we have reason to expect a winning record in 2003 and attend a bowl game at the end of the season. While Dana Dimel's teams underachieved on the football field, the lack of success can be attributed to three key factors: Lack of discipline, a poor defensive scheme, and low percentage play calling selections. These coaching deficiencies led Dimel and staff to a deplorable C-USA performance over the three years with two 8th place finishes and a 10th place finish during his stay here on Cullen Blvd. However, while this underachieving was taking place, Dana Dimel was doing an excellent job of bringing upgraded talent to our program. Enough stock in the cupboard to make one declare we are an above average talented squad with arguably enough talent to rate us in the top three of C-USA.
C-USA has not been too kind to the Cougars over the last 7 years, but that is about to come to a screeching halt as Coach Art Briles and his young staff bring an aggressive style of ball with a most challenging offense that will literally explode some defenses around our conference. If we had to look for one place where improvement is needed immediately for this staff, we have to look no further than the ECU's, UAB's, and So. Fla's where we have failed miserably.
Let's keep the glasses on for a while and look at a schedule that is favorable to the 2003 Cougars. We will play the two top pre-season ranked teams from C-USA at home . TCU and So. Miss. will visit our house and another top preseason ranked team, So. Fla. does not even show up on our schedule this year. Road games for the Coogs in conference this year include; ECU, Tulane, Army and Louisville. This group of roadies is not exactly considered perennial powers these days by any stretch of the imagination.. I would venture to say we could count on at least a 50-50 split on these 4 road games. Come back to O'Quinn-Robertson and possibly run the table, and pick up a win over in Lafayette, La. and we're talking 9-3. Or, say we lose at least one game to TCU or So. Miss at home and your talking 8-4, or say we lose both and we are then talking 7-5. I'm comfortable with picking the Cougars 7-5 or 8-4 and watching it happen. One year ago my prediction was 6-6 and I was amazed when we fell short and even more amazed how we did that. We blew up twice in the second half of two ball games with double digit leads.
Forget the preseason prognosticators, they are solely basing their prediction for the Coogs based on us having a new coach in the program. Wait, back up, have they ever given the Houston Cougars their due?
In 1976 the Cougars were picked to finish 6th in their first ever SWC season and took home the Championship. In 1978 we were picked 4th and once again won the SWC Championship. Again in 1983 we were picked 4th and took the Championship. These are just a few examples that indicate that the preseason predictions are not a safe place to hang your hat.
Keep those rose colored glasses on for a while and lets examine the transformation the Houston Cougars have endured over the past three years. Dimel checked into his office in the fall of 1999 and found 52 scholarship players on the roster. OUCH! He brought in a class of athletes that was rated in the middle of the pack in C-USA in post season recruiting wraps. One year later he would claim the top spot in the conference in recruiting and once again in 2002 would again claim the top spot. In 2003 Art Briles on short notice claimed the 2nd best class of recruits in C-USA and now the Cougars are full up on scholarships and ready to move forward.
Bigger, stronger, faster is the cry from Cullen Blvd. along with some "We Will Win" cries from the incoming class of 2003. A high octane short passing game offense with an attacking defense and a well stocked program with a full compliment of scholarship players spell p r o g r e s s. Remember what was said to a couple of our recruits during this last campaign by our new head Coach Art Briles, "we're going to build a winner here at UofH and we are going to do it fast." It is not a matter of waiting a season or two to get it started, we will get it started in the 2003 season. You'll start to see the results this fall when we line up with 10 to 12 blue chip starters in the starting lineup with 4 to 6 more in the rotations. Add some red chips to the rotations and keep those red colored glasses on as we approach the opening kickoff. The 2003 season is just around the corner.
We are on the verge of a national turnaround in 2003 and with this tour we have every single reason to: keep those rose colored glasses on and see RED.
I think we will win all the home games except one, and you can take your pick between TCU or So Miss. for the lone loss. On the road we will win at Louisiana Lafayette, ECU, and Army for a record of 8-4. This will be a great start to the Art Briles era. Our players believe and are ready to win under Coach Briles. All we fans need to do is keep believing and keep those rose colored glasses on!