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Volume 70, Issue 23, Thursday, September 23, 2004


Media, sports pros take sides on tonight's game

While waiting for Miami, local media say game can go any way

By Ken Stocks
The Daily Cougar

The roof was open and the sun was shining down on the field at Reliant Stadium on Wednesday afternoon as members of the media gathered in the north end zone to wait for the arrival of The Associated Press's No. 4 ranked Hurricanes.

The ESPN crew worked feverishly to get the cameras and microphones set up for tonight's nationally televised football game between Houston and Miami as the media discussed the game.

"I think this is a tremendous opportunity when you go face to face with a high profile program," Keith Calkins, sports director for KRIV-TV in Houston said. "That's how your players get better. You see what it takes. You see the speed on the field and you see how intense they are, down in and down out. It is the best way to measure where you are and what you have to do to close the gap to be on par with a program like that. 

"You can't get better playing on your own block. You have to get outside and really test yourself, and it could get ugly, and the score might be lopsided. And people will wonder what do you really gain from a situation like that? Well, number one, you get on television. It exposes your program. And it tells your kids, look, if you want to get better, now you know what it takes."

As Calkins finished talking, the other sportscasters gathered around and offered their opinions on today's game.

"It is always special to see the Miami Hurricane come into Houston," Marc Vandermeer, the former voice of the Miami Hurricane and current announcer for the Houston Texans, said. "To see this game up close and personal is something people should take advantage of. And even though on paper Houston might be overmatched, you never know how it will shake out, and you hope to catch Miami looking ahead to other games down the road. Or they might make some mistakes and give Houston a shot."

It seemed that not many in the media were giving the Cougars much of a chance in this game, but some of the Houston Texans were around to remind everyone that funny things can happen on the football field.

"I'd like to see Miami come in here and Houston spank them up," Houston Texans guard Marcus Spears said. "No one is giving Houston a chance but I am always for the underdog. You still have to play the game on the field and when you cross that stripe right there [pointing to the goal line], it is business. It is work, and anyone can win."

In the distance, the sound of sirens and the rumble of motorcycles could be heard as the motorcade escorting the Miami Hurricanes' buses rolled up to the north entrance of Reliant Stadium.

Former Miami player (and current Texans receiver) Andre Johnson was waiting at the gate to welcome his former team; he escorted the players around the stadium as the media gathered for the coaches' press conference.

"Our coaches are fired up to coach in this facility," Hurricanes' head coach Larry Coker said. "This is awesome. The opportunity to be in a great facility like this and in a great football state. And I think it is (a) great opportunity for the players to be in a nationally televised game from a stadium like this."

The media gathered closely with cameras and microphones in hand to catch every word from the Miami coach who went on to comment about the Houston Cougar football team.

"They came out and ran the ball extremely well last week against Army," Coker said. "The quarterback (Kevin Kolb) is very talented. He was freshman of the year in C-USA and he can run and pass so that makes him dangerous.

"This has been a short week, but it was a short week for Houston too," Coker said. "But we have to make sure we are lined up properly and don't get confused; they offer a very multiple offense and we have to be prepared."

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