|Monday, November 22, 1999||
Volume 65, Issue 65
UH Men's Basketball
|Valiant Coogs deserve chance to play a bowl game for
By Tom Carpenter
I can see one of the Cougar offensive linemen finishing off a pizza with a liter of soda water, scratching his belly as he stands up and asks his mates, "Anybody wanna go bowling?"
His buddies look around and ask each other, "Where?"
The thrashing delivered upon a beleaguered Army earned the Cougars a 7-4 season record, but it doesn't guarantee them an invitation to a bowl game.
That's too bad because this team has fought and clawed its way through a season made as mercurial as a March wind.
The Cougars finished their schedule on a high note, a three-game winning streak that vaulted them into a successful conclusion to an exciting and entertaining year.
After eight games, the Cougars stood 4-4 while the road to mediocrity beckoned.
But these Cougars refused to succumb to mediocrity.
They may not have won the Conference USA championship, but they played inspired football and went out and earned their 7-4 record.
The loss to Alabama-Birmingham sticks out like a sore thumb now.
At 8-3, there would have been no way the bowls could ignore the Cougars; 7-4 leaves the Cougars on the cusp.
Only time, and the bowl selection committees, can tell if UH will be invited to a bowl game.
These guys deserve to be showcased in a prime time setting.
Ketric Sanford and Mike Green have proven beyond a shadow of doubt that they are among the best running back tandems in college football this year.
The rest of the Cougars have had their ups and downs at different times during the season, but when this team is hitting on all cylinders, it's a very good football team.
Some great things happened in Cougar football this year, but the question remains to be asked: Is this year an anomaly, or is this season a precursor of things to come?
Head coach Kim Helton has tossed a treasure chest of victories on the table as if he suddenly remembered his job was at stake.
Many alumni cry out "Too little, too late," and point at his overall record and the empty stands as proof that it's time Helton moved on to greener pastures.
College athletics is big business, and most coaches know they are hired to eventually get fired.
A cold, harsh look at cash flow brings up some solid arguments to use in the equation of Helton's tenure, but Helton deserves congratulations for two reasons.
First, for pirating seven victories this season and a potential bowl bid.
Second, he deserves credit for not scheduling two high-ranking teams back to back.
Another good move by Helton was bringing in defensive coordinator Dick Bumpas.
The Cougar defense has ranked in the upper echelons of Division I teams all year. Bumpas did a terrific job.
Cougar football is approaching the level this university expects year in and year out from a program with such a rich history.
Helton has made Athletic Director Chet Gladchuk's job a bit harder, but that's why Gladchuk makes the big money.
It's going to be interesting to watch this action play out.
The Cougars were an exciting, exasperating and entertaining team that excelled and exceeded expectations. They deserve to go to a bowl game. Whether they do or don't doesn't diminish what they've accomplished this season.
Congratulations to the last Cougar team of the millennium for closing
the thousand-year cycle on an upbeat note for Cougar fans everywhere.
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