My bond with Houston, Texas didn’t begin when I permanently moved to the Bayou City in 2001 after spending the summer of 2000 in the Lone Star State. As a Wolfpacker, my bond with Houston started on a wonderful April day in 1983.
Last year, I tried to draw your attention to some interesting perspectives of how “Tom Penders had UH flying high again.” (in his FIRST YEAR OF COACHING). I even followed that up with an article with some fantastic quotes and perspective from this summer.
Well, on the same night that we are passing along some congratulations to a Carolina program that defeated the 1982 Houston Cougars in the National Semi-finals, we might as well pass along some congratulations to the Houston Cougars for their big win tonight over the Arizona Wildcats (coming in the same week that they also knocked off another Top 25 team).
Tonight, the Associated Press proclaims, “After two mostly forgettable decades, the Houston Cougars are on their way back into the national spotlight.”
But, the AP is a little late with their proclamation. Yoni Cohen at Fox Sports already beat the AP to the story before the season even tipped. I think any Wolfpacker would enjoy reading “Once storied programs are poised for return” that includes some focus in UH.
“Think coaches aren’t difference-makers? Think again. In 2003-04, Ray McCallum’s last year at the helm, the Cougars lost 18 games. In 2004-05, “Turnaround Tom” Penders’ first year on the bench, Houston won 18 contests â€” with more or less the same cast of characters.
In McCallum’s final season, the Cougars committed more turnovers per possession than did 131 clubs. In Penders’ inaugural campaign? Fewer than all but 12 teams. In McCallum’s final year, Houston forced fewer turnovers per possession than did 197 squads. In Penders’ first season? More than all but one â€” Air Force.”
Obviously, nobody has shared the secret memo that so many Wolfpackers have memorized with programs like Houston (and Georgetown, and UCLA, and UNC-CH, and Ohio State, and……insert about 25 others). This secret memo explains the ‘rationale’ behind the direct correlation between how long a program sucks, and then how that program will ultimately be successful (because it sucked).
Thank goodness that our Athletics Director knows the secret that so many Wolfpackers have shared with me through the years. I can hear them all now, “Herb is building something with foundation. He doesn’t win with smoke and mirrors or try to win fast. When he starts winning, he is going to win for a long, long time.”
In 2001 Lee Fowler shared with the Charlotte Observer this same cosmic truism out of the identical page of the HSSS playbook when he said:
“Iâ€™m not saying I donâ€™t care what (outspoken fans) think, but Iâ€™ve got a background in basketball, and you hear things about everybody. â€œThe one thing I ask (of) Wolfpack fans is support your coach. Fans want a national championship. The way Herbâ€™s doing things, when we do get there – and I donâ€™t think itâ€™s far away – it will stay there.
See, folks….national championships were not far away in 2001…so, they certainly aren’t far away now!!! And schools who have recently fired coaches and hired news ones like UCLA, Houston, Texas Tech, Ohio State, USC, Memphis, Georgetown, Villanova, Wake Forest, Louisiville, and UNC-CH are just going to have to wait behind us because we were close 4 years ago (before all of them made their most recent coaching change and ‘success’ isn’t always a straight line.
In the meantime, we’ll let those folks in Houston and Chapel Hill celebrate their wins today without bursting their bubble about their unsustainable program building. Obviously, they don’t know how to run a program like everyone else in the country. They’ll just have to wait behind our “not far away” program. Just like Carolina did with their 2005 National Championship. How sustainable can something like that be?