The So-So Year In Cougar Sports: 25 Things From 2010

Since I'm taking a look at the sports year that is about to come to an end, I thought I would focus on the Houston Cougars, one of the teams that I cover for the Press. So...

1. The men's basketball team shocked the students, alums, administration, fans, C-USA, and the NCAA by winning four straight games to win the C-USA Tournament and the automatic spot in the NCAA Men's Tournament.

2. But as with the last time they made the tourney, in 1992, the Cougars were one and out.

3. Despite taking the team to the tournament and seemingly salvaging his job, head coach Tom Penders "resigned" to pursue other opportunities.

4. And despite the loud desires of a very vocal minority that the Cougars go after a high-profile name like Tim "Walking NCAA Violation" Floyd or Billy Gillispie, athletic director Mack Rhoades shocked the basketball world by hiring former Texas Tech head coach James Dickey.

5. The football team was part of the national media discussion as the season got started.

6. This discussion disappeared when the Cougars got their asses handed to them by UCLA in the season's third game.

7. Not only did the Cougars lose to UCLA, the Cougars did so in the worst fashion imaginable as stud quarterback Case Keenum was lost for the season to an ACL injury, and his backup, Cotton Turner, was lost for the season due to a broken clavicle.

8. And head coach Kevin Sumlin pissed off the keyboard commandos at various fan message boards by ignoring their advice as to who he should play at quarterback.

9. The Cougars finished the season with a 5-7 record, which was nowhere near what the faithful had anticipated to start the season. The Cougars struggled throughout the season, and lost their final four games.

10. Senior wide receiver, and so-called team leader James Cleveland, was suspended twice during the season for violations of team rules.

11. The Cougars brought in a new defensive coordinator with a new defensive philosophy. All that was proven was that it doesn't matter who the coordinator is, or what system is used, if the talent is lacking. And it appeared that the talent was lacking.

12. And despite their reputation as a passing team, the Cougars' most consistent players were running backs Bryce Beall and Michael Hayes. Hayes was a last-minute addition to the team when the school he originally committed to play for decided they didn't want him.

13. One of the best parts about covering the football team was talking to Beall and Hayes. Beall, though soft-spoken, excelled at breaking down a game and he and Hayes made for a winning and somewhat comedic duo when they were made available for meeting with the press.

14. And who out there couldn't be inspired by the story of Patrick Edwards? He suffered a horrific injury in his freshman year against Marshall, and it was doubtful that he would ever play football again. Instead, not only did he return, but this season, he quickly became the favorite target of freshman quarterback David Piland.

15. The football fans actually attempted to shut up us critics as five of the six Cougar home games were sold out this season. Here's hoping this continues next season when the hype machine won't have been pushing the team along throughout the off-season.

16. And congrats to Mack Rhoades who has gone all in and called the bluff of the alumni with his attempt to build a new football stadium and renovate Hofheinz Pavilion. The UH sports facilities are rapidly aging and falling apart and Rhoades is doing his best to change that.

17. The highlight of the UH baseball season came early on when the Cougars defeated the Texas Longhorns 1-0 in a classic pitcher's duel at the Houston College Classic held at Minute Maid Park.

18. After the season, Rayner Noble was replaced as the coach of the baseball team.

19. This means I'm going to have to find a new favorite activity when it comes to covering UH baseball as no longer will we members of the media be able to place bets on whether any of us will be able to get either a smile or a two-sentence answer out of Noble.

20. Noble's replacement as coach of the baseball team is former Cougar player and assistant head coach Todd Whitting. I got more words and smiles from him in one press conference than I got from Noble in an entire season.

21. At a time when the discussion about concussions in sports is at an all-time high, the Cougars blew it when they fought the attempts of Houston Chronicle reporter Steve Campbell to get the school's concussion policy following Keenum's early season concussion. He wasn't seeking specifics as to the condition of Keenum, he was seeking the school's policy.

22. Could someone please tell me who it is that thought putting UH games on one of the Comcast Sports networks was a good idea? You would think they would want games on a network that a majority of the population actually has access to, right?

23. Longtime women's basketball coach Joe Curl had to resign following the season due to severe health issues which caused him to miss multiple games during the season. Here's hoping for continued improvement for Curl.

24. Hey Cougar fans, if you really want other conferences to take the school seriously when it comes to expansion, you might consider showing up for the basketball games. I think there were more fans of UTSA at Saturday's game than there were Cougar fans.

25. And UH catcher Chris Wallace was punished for his good play as a Cougar when he was drafted by the Houston Astros.

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John Royal is a native Houstonian who graduated from the University of Houston and South Texas College of Law. In his day job he is a complex litigation attorney. In his night job he writes about Houston sports for the Houston Press.
Contact: John Royal