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Volume 68, Issue 20, Monday, September 23, 2002

Sports
 

UH is still trying to play catch-up

The Post-Game Show

Brad Sebastian

When David and Goliath faced off in their battle, at least David brought along a rock and a sling to defend himself.

Saturday night, the Cougars 

couldnit find a rock, a sling, an open receiver, a hole in the defense or any other answers to the Goliath that is the Texas football team.

In the days leading up to the game, the pundits placed the Longhorns and Cougars in their rightful places on the college football spectrum near the top and bottom respectively. A Cougar victory would have stunned the sports world. Unfortunately, the predicted blowout became an actual blowout.

The final score couldnit have surprised even the most ardent of Cougar fans. The Longhorns are undoubtedly at a different level than the Cougars.


Kevin Harwerth/The Daily Cougar


Junior quarterback Nick Eddy dives in for the Cougarsi lone touchdown during Saturdayis 41-11 loss to the Longhorns in Austin. Eddy came in for a struggling Barrick Nealy in the second half. The score brought the Cougars to within 31-11 early in the fourth quarter.

The differences between the two programs are clearly evident by simply visiting each schoolis home stadiums on game day.

The handful of Cougar faithful scattered throughout Robertson Stadium during home games seems almost quaint when compared to the throngs that packed the gargantuan Memorial stadium in Austin on Saturday.

The facilities, the talent, the resources and the atmosphere that exist at "big-time" football schools creates an uneven playing field that makes it almost impossible for smaller programs to compete.

While certainly fighting an uphill battle, Dana Dimel does have the right strategy for bringing a winning tradition back to a program that lacks the wherewithal of its competitors from around the state.

Dimel recruits from the local talent pool, develops that talent as best he can and tries to keep a core group of players together for four or five years.

On the surface, Dimelis plan seems like the only way to build a college football program. In reality, itis the hard way. Unfortunately for Cougar fans, itis his only option.

Dimelis adversaries in Austin and College Station have the luxury of putting together talent in an entirely different way.

During recruiting season, Mack Brown and R.C. Slocum simply waltz over to Blue-Chip High School in Anytown, Texas, with a sack full of intent letters and put a team loaded with talent together.

Itis not all that tricky for them. They merely show the recruits their massive stadium, state-of-the-art facilities, their list of alumni in the NFL, their nationally televised game schedule and the jacuzzi in the playeris dormitory and then show them where the dotted line is.

The bigger schools avoid the concerns of redshirt seasons since their elite talent is going to turn over in less than four years anyway. The best players turn pro after two or three years on the field.

Losing players to the NFL is the least of Dimelis problems right now. Taking some of the top talent from around the state sits at the top of his priority list. But without all the right recruiting tools, Dimel must feel like heis walking into a gunfight with a butter knife.

For fans, players and coaches, being overmatched as a program doesnit sit well as an excuse. But it is a reality.

The Cougars witnessed that reality on Saturday.

Dimel and the UH program are headed in a positive direction, but until they have the resources and prestige to compete with the mega-programs, games like Saturdayis will become a recurring nightmare.

 Send comments to dcsports@mail.uh.edu

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