|Monday, November 29, 1999||
Volume 65, Issue 68
|New coach could revive school spirit
By Rohith Nandagiri
Last Monday, UH fired one of the highest paid employees on campus.
The Athletic department fired UH head football coach Kim Helton for not taking the program to the next level. There was a sense that even though the team compiled a 7-4 record, the future of the program was up in the air.
But the main reason was that the program lacked excitement.
Now the search begins for a new head coach.
Greg Davis, the current offensive coordinator at the University of Texas is a leading candidate. He was hired by UH Athletic Director Chet Gladchuk when they were both at Tulane. Davis also helped Ricky Williams win the Heisman Trophy last year and has guided current Longhorn, Major Applewhite, into a superb college quarterback.
A few years ago there was a movement to rid Athletics of the football program altogether. It was not making money and was costing the school more money to have a team.
A coach must have the ability to win games and sell the program. This is what UH head women's basketball coach Joe Curl is trying to do. This is what UH men's basketball head coach Clyde Drexler is trying to do. Curl has sold almost all of the courtside seats this season and Drexler has made an astronomical difference in attendance.
UH has a chance of becoming a force again in college football. It was just ten years ago that the Cougars beat SMU 95-21. UH was ranked 14th in both polls in 1989. In fact, between 1988 and 1990, the Cougars were ranked in the top 20. But since then it has all gone downhill. A lack of local talent committing to UH and poor recruiting have helped make the Cougars just an average team.
UH has a lot to offer a new coach. A great new training facility was built just five years ago, and UH has moved all home football games to Robertson Stadium. It is a great venue to watch college football. UH has an athletic director committed to bringing this school's athletic program back to national prominence.
But to bring UH back to national prominence, changes need to be made. The school's image as Cougar High must be shed.
In the long run, a better sense of campus will help graduation rates, attendance rates at campus activities and help create a more active alumni base.
I was recently looking at a book which named the top 331 universities in the country. I surely thought UH would be in it. Depressingly, it wasn't.
Something needs to be done to better the appearance of this school. There are good professors, facilities and a good library here. Now what is needed is better student performance and possibly higher standards for entry to UH. What we need are more normal college students here in the traditional age group.
The average student age at UH is 26, which is the average age of teaching assistants at other schools. The average needs to drop, and more students need to graduate in under six years. Of course, that is easier said than done. Many students here hold full-time jobs and pay their own way. But those students should be the minority and not the norm.
There is a large alumni base here in Houston which needs to be more involved. This can be done with more excitement. Excitement while they are in school and excitement when they are out.
Nandagiri a senior MIS major,
can be reached at email@example.com.