Football fans get chance to sit with team, Sumlin
It will be about as close and personal an opportunity as fans will have with the Cougar football team before its season opener against Southern.
The UH Athletics Department will host Fan Appreciation Day at 1 p.m. Sunday at Yeoman Fieldhouse in the Athletic/Alumni Center. The free-to-the-public event will allow anyone interested in Cougar football to sit down and talk with the team, new head coach Kevin Sumlin and his coaching staff.
"Obviously the whole goal is to charge up our fans and to let them know that we appreciate them," UH Assistant Athletics Director of Marketing Sean Randall said. "It’s going to be a long season. At the end of the day we need to become more intimate with our football team and who we have on the staff."
Nothing sets the mood for an intimate gathering like free pizza and drinks, and that’s one thing fans will have to look forward to should they decide to make the trip and chill with the Cougars.
"It’s always been a young, people-friendly kind of thing, too," Athletics Director Dave Maggard said. "We tell people to bring your family. Bring your kids. Bring your grandkids. It’s open to the public, so anybody that wants to get a close-up look and close view of our team and our new coaching staff, it’s a great way to do it."
Randall hopes this will translate into transforming Houston into a Cougar-hungry town from a Longhorn-and-Aggie-following city.
"We want to reconnect with alums and Houstonians, so we’re going to have to take our show on the road," Randall said. "One of our efforts for next year is we’re going to start going out and being ambassadors for UH football. Next year we’d like to make it something of a citywide event where people can have exposure to the UH program. Maybe we could head out to a place like Reliant Arena."
That idea might not be too far from reality. Maggard said he’s been impressed with how Sumlin and his staff have been taken in by the city.
"I think this coaching staff is very open to that," Maggard said. "We’ve had a number of alumni events, and coach Sumlin and the coaching staff have been warmly received. They’ve been really embraced by the community and by the alumni. So I think there’s a lot of enthusiasm and excitement for the upcoming season."
Randall said he’s looking forward to working with Sumlin to improve fan turnout for future events and most importantly for home games.
"The biggest problem we have with coach Sumlin is that he comes from a very successful program," Randall said. "He has lots of ideas. Part of my job is to try to catch up with him and find out what his ideas are and how can we implement them. As the program grows we’d like to get input from coach Sumlin from his experience on things that we can be doing.
"Coming from Oklahoma and the program that he’s been a part of, we’re quite sure that he’ll be able to give us some good advice."