Houston Cougar fans worried last year when Michael Berry dumped Tom Franklin from the then Sports Animal 790. Franklin was the voice of the Cougars, and 790 was the home station of the Cougars.
So fans were worried that someone else would be brought in as the school's play-by-play voice, especially since Franklin's contract to do play-by-play would expire once basketball season ended.
The fans no longer need to worry.
The news came out on Tuesday that Franklin has re-upped with ISP, the company that produces the UH radio broadcasts for football and basketball, for three more years.
So Franklin, the UH alum who has done play-by-play for the Oilers and was formerly the guy stuck listening to all of us bitch about the Astros as host of the Astros post-game show, will be returning as the Cougars play-by-play voice.
Franklin will technically be working under a letter of agreement, and not a contract, but that appears to be semantics as Franklin just spent the last six years working under a letter agreement.
"I owe a big thank you to new ISP GM Neal Talmadge," Franklin told Hair Balls. "He told me from day one not to worry about the play-by-play position, because I was his guy, and he worked hard to ensure that the contract would be renewed."
Along with Talmadge, Franklin wanted to thank the Cougar fans. There was a student petition started to make sure Franklin would retain the position. And a flood of alumni contacted ISP and Cougar AD Mack Rhoades, all expressing their support for Franklin.
But Franklin will also be assuming new fulltime employment, and as of June 28th he will be employed by the University of Houston Alumni Association, handling public relations and working as a sales representative.
Anybody who has met Franklin knows that there is nobody better when it comes to selling the school, and the Association couldn't have chosen better.
"In speaking with UHAA president and CEO Mike Pede about the position, he envisions me doing numerous interviews and blogs highlighting past and present Cougars, and the role their UH education has played in their careers," Franklin said. "Like me, Mike believes that the University of Houston has been terribly undersold, not just in athletics, but also as an academic institution. It will be my job to shed some light on the numerous leaders who owe much of their success to their UH education."
And the out-of-town alumni should benefit from the new arrangement as well. Part of his duties will include arranging casual gatherings with alumni in the cities where the Cougars will be playing as part of an effort to make them feel like more a part of the university.
The sad news is for the fans of sports radio in the city in that this new position means that Franklin is definitively leaving the sports talk airwaves. It's also kind of sad for Franklin as he is putting away the past to take on the new position. But as Franklin says, his life in radio would not have been possible in the first place without the University of Houston.
"I am really looking forward to this new challenge. It will be very different not working in radio, after doing so for over 30 years," he says. "But I am very excited about beginning this new chapter in my life, and being able to focus all of my time and energy on the University of Houston. Without UH and what it did for me, there probably would not be the 'Tom Franklin' that people have come to know. I look forward to being able to repay some of that debt in this new position."
On a personal note, I've gotten to know Tom really well in my year covering the Cougars, and this move pleases me because Tom has gone out of his way to help me learn the beat.
So I'm looking forward to another year of dealing with Tom, who truly is the good guy that Cougar fans think that he is.
And hopefully, he'll agree to return as the Hair Balls special correspondent just like he did during the C-USA basketball tournament and the NCAA Tournament.
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