The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: The Year Just Past in Cougar Sports

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Keenum 1.JPG
John Royal
Case Keenum was the Man of the Year for the Cougars.
Yes, it's that time of year. That time of year when I take a look back at the year just past. On Friday, I looked back at the sports year for the Rice Owls. Today, let's take a look at the top 25 events, in no particular order, for the Houston Cougars this past year.

1. On December 7, 2011, after months of speculation and years of bitching, the Cougars make it official and move to the Big East, an actual, real live BCS AQ conference with a legit TV contract and legit football and basketball programs like Boise State, Louisville, Georgetown and 2011 NCAA Men's Basketball Champion Connecticut.

2. Whether the Big East will still be a BCS AQ conference come 2013 when the Cougars join is an entirely different question that won't be answered for another year or so.

3. UH Women's Basketball went 16-0 in C-USA play to win the regular season title in route to a 25-4 season. They lost in the semifinals of the Conference Tourney and were bounced in the first round of the NCAA Tourney.

4. The Devil's contract with UH women's basketball coach Todd Buchanan was called in during the off-season as the team lost its first nine games of this season and has often been reduced to just seven players because of injuries.

5. For the first time in school history, the football team starts the season at 12-0 (most wins in team history) and crawls up to #6 in the BCS rankings. But when it really counted, the team lost 49-28 to Southern Miss in the C-USA title game and had to settle for a berth in the TicketCity Bowl.

6. Case Keenum breaks just about every career record there is in the NCAA record book. His most dominating night came on a rainy Thursday night in late October when he threw for 534 yards and nine TD passes in a 73-34 win over Rice.

7. During that same Rice game, Patrick Edwards set a C-USA single-game record with 5 TD receptions (he finished the game with seven receptions for 318 yards.)

8. Tyron Carrier tied the NCAA record for career kickoff TD returns in that Rice game, and he will leave the team as the school's all-time reception leader.

9. With most schools, the only time you hear about the Compliance Department is when a program is in trouble for not being in compliance with various NCAA rules, but on January 14, 2011, the UH Compliance Department was lauded after leaping every hurdle in its path so as to get Case Keenum an unexpected extra year of eligibility, with him becoming the newest grad student at the school.

10. November 19, 2011, will go down in ESPN College GameDay history as it was on the UH campus that Lee Corso let loose with "ah, fuck it" on live TV as he went about picking the Coogs to defeat SMU. That was, of course, the first visit ever of ESPN's College GameDay.

11. After much anticipation, especially with the announcement that the school was moving into the Big East, the alumni and fan base were a bit underwhelmed with the news that there's still no date for the groundbreaking on the stadium renovation, that a firm hasn't even been hired to design the stadium and that only about half the necessary amount needed for the renovation has been raised.

12. Kevin Sumlin's named the C-USA Coach of the Year. He promptly packs his bag for Arizona State Texas A&M UCLA Texas A&M Illinois Texas A&M to become the newest savior at Aggieland.

13. Case Keenum earns CUSA MVP honors, Patrick Edwards is named as the Offensive Player of the Year and Tyron Carrier is named the Special Teams Player of the Year.

14. UH men's basketball gets the 2011-2012 season off to a 3-0 start, including an upset victory over Arkansas in Little Rock. They then promptly lose three straight, including two in which they grab a one-point lead in the final ten seconds only to give up an offensive rebound, allowing the opposition to score on a miracle shot (TCU) and free throws (LSU) to get the one-point win. The Cougars are currently 4-5 on the season as they prep for conference play.

15. The Cougars become the team that is designated with helping Penn State players and fans recover from the horrors of Jerry Sandusky and Joe Paterno. Of course, UH players are not necessarily on board with this, but they don't matter. 16. UH baseball goes 27-32 under new coach Todd Whitting, but the wins include upsets over national ranked teams such as TCU, Tulane, Texas A&M and Southern Miss. The record's more impressive considering the injuries which riddled the team's pitching staff.

17. Living large through the alumni finds that former UH catcher Chris Wallace has turned into an All-Star minor league catcher in the Astros farm system in his first full year of professional baseball. And Michael Bourn excels with the Astros and finds himself to be highly sought after by other major league teams when the trading deadline comes around, ending up as a member of the Atlanta Braves.

18. The men's basketball team, in their first year under new head coach James Dickey, finished the season with a record of 12-18, including 4-12 in CUSA play. At one point, however, they were 11-6 (3-1) in conference play and at the top of the standings, having upset then-ranked UCF before going into a tail dive that saw multiple players suspended (primarily seniors) for games at a time.

19. The campus/athletic department is rocked by the sudden death of swim coach Mark Taylor from a heart attack while attending the NCAA diving championships.

20. UH fans, who were vocal with their disgust of the Aggies and various schools talking to/approaching Kevin Sumlin in the run-up to the C-USA Title Game, apparently have no problem with UH officials supposedly approaching coaches like Sonny Dykes while they're prepping their teams for bowl games.

21. Many Cougar fans were very vocal in their displeasure with Tom Penders while he was the men's basketball coach. But though he's gone and has been replaced by James Dickey, who is doing a superb recruiting job and is working hard to win back the fan base, the so-called fans have failed to respond as Hofheinz Pavilion is often an empty shell on game day. There are games where the band and cheerleaders can't even be bothered to attend, and this simply isn't acceptable for a team moving into the Big East.

22. Place kicker Matt Hogan sets the single-season NCAA record with 78 straight extra points without a miss.

23. ESPN College GameDay's visit is memorable for more than just Lee Corso. The UH Sports Information Department staff manages to sneak in a large blow-up of the head of assistant SID Jeff Conrad, and his floating head, with the message "Jeff for the Heisman" was visible throughout the show.

24. The Cougars were finally able to pack the press box for the C-USA title game loss to Southern Miss. Still, the only local TV guy seen on the premises was Mark Berman.

25. The Cougar baseball team had some great-looking new unis, simple, clean, classic. And nothing looked better than the day the football broke out the 1970s throwback uniforms for the Marshall game. This is a look the football team should consider adopting full time.

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