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Volume 68, Issue 72, Monday, December 9, 2002

Sports
 

Greatest players try for all-time team

By Ed De La Garza
The Daily Cougar

If you were going purely by statistics, who would win a shootout between Andre Ware and David Klingler? If the criteria were leadership ability, wouldn't Danny Davis, the man who led the Cougars to the Southwest Conference Championship in 1976, have a legitimate stake to be the best quarterback in UH history?

Who would they throw to? Do the run-and-shoot's gaudy numbers guarantee that era's receiving corps a spot on the list of the all-time team?

The Cougars have never won a national championship. They've never even made it to a national championship game. But that doesn't mean that if you put the best players to ever wear the red and white on one team, they wouldn't give Miami a run for its money.

Throughout its history, UH has gone through an inferiority complex, causing Texas and Texas A&M to feel nothing but loathing rather than respect when they lose to the Cougars. It was always playing catch-up with its older and bigger Texas brethren, but at its peak, UH was capable of beating anybody.

Earlier this semester, The Daily Cougar began about the arduous task of collecting votes for the "UH All-Time Team." It was (not surprisingly) stocked with plenty of old-timers from the program's glory days -- back when Bill Yeoman's veer was the most-feared offensive weapon in college football.

Tallying final votes wasn't the hard part. It was who to leave out in case of a tie. The following isn't meant to be the definitive list -- just a starting point for more arguments.

<B>Offense<P>

<I>Quarterback<P> -- Andre Ware.

Ware ('87-89) won the Heisman Trophy in 1989 after completing 365-of-578 passes for 4,699 yards and 46 touchdowns. He averaged 427 yards per game and set 26 NCAA records. Klingler had better career numbers (9,430 to 8,202), but Ware helped but UH to get back in the national spotlight after a prolonged absence. He will go down as the best Cougar in UH history.

<I>Running backs<P> -- Robert Newhouse, Chuck Weatherspoon.

Other backs moved on to the NFL, but the run-and-shoot wouldn't have been nearly as effective without 'Spoon. He ran over Texas for 218 yards in '88 and holds the all-time record for yards-per-rush (9.6). He's also No. 3 and No. 7.

Robert Newhouse is the best running back in Cougar history. Newhouse ripped opposing defenses from '69-71. He led the nation in yards gained with 1,757 yards in '71. At the time, it was the second-highest total in NCAA history. It was a season that included 10 100-yard rushing games. He had 16 in his career. He is tied with another UH-great, Paul Gipson for most 200-yard games in a season and in a career (three and four, respectively). Gipson narrowly missed out on making it to the team.

<I>Wide receivers<P> -- Elmo Wright, Manny Hazard.

Ware had the numbers, but they may not have been as impressive if it weren't for Hazard. He caught 142 of Ware's passes in '89 and caught a UH-record 10.5 passes per game during his career ('89-90).

Wright ('68-'70) meanwhile holds the all-time mark with 27.9-yards per catch, including a year ('68) in which he had eight 50-plus yard touchdown games.

<I>Offensive line<P> -- Val Belcher, Bill Bridges, Ben Fricke, Melvin Jones, Rich Stotter.

They're not the most publicized group on a team, but the offense doesn't work without a strong offensive line (just ask the Houston Texans). All-Americans Bridges and Stotter anchored the line in the late '60s, when Yeoman was making his initial run towards greatness. Belcher ('73-76) and Jones ('76-79) played during the Cougars' glory days and helped Danny Davis work his magic. Aside from running for student body president, Fricke ('94-'97) got to play on UH's first conference championship team since '84 (the '96 Conference USA Championship team).

<I>Kicker, punter<P> -- Roman Anderson (K), Kenny Hebert (P).

Anderson ('88-91) was dead-on. In a time when he got almost as much of a workout as shasta performing push-ups after touchdowns, he needed to be. He finished his UH career with 423 points, 213 point-after-tries made (out of 216). In '88 he made 51-of 51. He beat that mark just two years later (58-of-58 in '90).

<I>Defense<P>

<I>Defensive line<P> -- Leonard Mitchell, Glenn Montgomery, T.J. Turner, Wilson Whitley.

Whitley is to the defense what Ware was to the offense. Winner of the 1976 Lombardi Award, Whitley stood 6-3 and 268 pounds. It was with Whitley causing the quarterbacks headaches that the Cougars shut out the Texas Longhorns 30-0 -- in Austin. He only played in the Southwest Conference for one year (his last at UH), but he earned the conference's "Player of the Decade" award. He died in 1992.

Montgomery played for the Cougars from 1985-88 -- the lean years including the twilight of Bill Yeoman's tenure and the beginning of the Jack Pardee regime. He went on to have a successful career with the Houston Oilers, but his life was cut short at age 31. His teams went a combined 18-26-1, but he was one of the best.

<I>Linebackers<P> -- David Hodge, Lamar Lathon, Wayne Rogers.

Lathon isn't remembered as much for his time with the Cougars ('87-89) as he is for his NFL career with the Oilers and Carolina Panthers, but if talent means anything, there's no question he was one of the best in UH history.

Rogers will be remembered mostly for his collegiate career, but his time at UH was memorable. He won the conference's Co-Defensive Player of the Year award in 2000 after recording a school-record 26 tackles for a loss. He was as hard-nosed as the best of Yeoman's linebackers -- and as solid. It was his play that seemingly willed the defense to step up during the '99 and 2000 seasons.

Hodge ('75-79) is fourth on the all-time school record list with 377 tackles and third with 261 solo tackles.

<I>Defensive backs<P> -- Johnny Jackson, Hanik Milligan, Johnny Peacock, Cornelius Price.

He never played on a championship team and during his time at UH, the Cougars went a combined 8-26 -- the leanest of the program's days, but Milligan never gave up, and he exemplified what it meant to be a Cougar. He's a surprise entry on this team, and one likely added because he's a modern player, but he could have been picking off passes for Yeoman.

<B>Head coach<P>

<I>Bill Yeoman<P> -- No explanation necessary. The man went160-108-8 in 25 years and took the Cougars as close to the promised land as they'd ever been. It's his tenure that's seen as the benchmark -- and one by which all future coaches are judged.

 Send comments to dcsports@mail.uh.edu

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