Program defined by goal to produce consistent winners
As the football season progresses, the Cougars have been defined in a variety of ways.
Head coach Tony Levine addressed the importance of building a winning program at an Aug. 28 press conference — the week leading up to the season opener against Texas State University.
“What fans quickly forget is the year before last we were 5-7,” Levine said. “We’re trying to become a consistent winner year-in and year-out. We’re not concerned with outside expectations. We’re going to define the 2012 football team. We have high expectations within our program.”
The team has fielded questions about what has gone so wrong (0-3), what it will take to win the conference (3-3) and the current point (4-5) of injuries and bowl eligibility.
“Everyone understands we’ve got to win games, but I think it’s really just as critical as it was game one for us,” redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Rowdy Harper said. “We want to win every game. We try to put all those games behind us that we lost or won. It’s about winning this week.”
Factoring in Levine’s 4-5 record, 12 first-year UH football head coaches have a combined record of 64-64-3 with the most wins coming in John Jenkins’ 1990 campaign that went 10-1. Jenkins would last only three seasons after back-to-back 4-7 results.
Despite vocal criticism from some passionate followers regarding this season’s record, it took former head coaches Kevin Sumlin and Art Briles time to build their programs. Briles led UH to a 7-6 record (4-4 in Conference USA) in 2003, while Sumlin posted an 8-5 record (6-2 in C-USA) in 2008.
“It’s something that does not happen over night, and it’s something we’re working extremely hard on every day,” Levine said. “While you’re focusing on the present, you’re also spending a great deal of time on the future.”
The most alarming concern may be that in the Cougars’ five losses, the team has been down and out from the beginning. At least when UH compiled a 5-7 record in 2010, three of the losses were by one touchdown or less.
UH has three opportunities left to pick up a sixth win and become bowl-eligible. It would take a clean sweep of the remaining schedule for the Cougars to finish with a winning record. For a staff that preaches a “one game at a time” mentality, this Saturday against a talented Tulsa team will have to be the starting point in building a winning program – or maybe next week.