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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Commentary

Lack of student, alumni support justifies UH’s status


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After a rough couple of games, the stands at TDECU Stadium looked somewhat empty, despite an announced attendance of over 35,000. | File photo/The Cougar

It’s a comfortable 78 degree Saturday morning under partly cloudy skies at TDECU Stadium, and the two-loss Cougars are ready to take the field for their ninth game of the year. It appears, however, that thousands of fans are still stuck in traffic.

Just as the team is playing in fair weather, it appears the Cougars are playing for the fair-weathered.

A virtually empty student section lying in the shadows of a vacant third deck provides a cozy backdrop for the game’s opening kick. Suddenly, it seems that this stadium was built far too large.

It’s been two weeks since Cougar football fans collectively slandered Big 12 Conference officials for opting to not add UH — and others — to their conference. However, the students and alumni’s failure to show up for the team’s conference matchup against the University of Central Florida Saturday morning proved why UH isn’t ready to be in a Power Five Conference.

The announced attendance of 35,846 is obviously misleading today as the figure assumes all season ticket holders are at the game.

TDECU Stadium currently seats roughly 40,000 people, but was designed with room to expand up to 60,000 seats if need be. It doesn’t appear this will be necessary anytime soon as a third — if not more — of the stadium collected dust Saturday. It’s hard to believe that this is the home field of a team who has lost just three games in the last two seasons.

There’s no way around it — losing to Navy and Southern Methodist University this month was disappointing for fans. Sky-high expectations and national media attention provided unprecedented hope to a fan base that was eager to build off of last season’s success.

After a 13-1 season in 2015, it appears that a sense of entitlement has set in among Cougar supporters. Backing a team with two losses seems to be far more difficult for students and alumni, as opposed to a team that was undefeated for a large portion of last season.

Fans’ disappointment is understandable, but the scene at the 11 a.m. kickoff resembled a two-win team rather than a two-loss team.

The Cougars have not lost inside TDECU Stadium since Nov. 8, 2014 and boast a 16-3 record all time in that confines. Their 13-game home win streak is the third-longest active streak in college football — behind just Navy and Clemson University. The team’s play over the last two seasons warrants little room for excuses as to the lack of attendance.

For the sake of perspective, take a look at Iowa State University.

In 2016, ISU finds itself in a tie for last place in the Big 12 with a record of 1-7. However, last weekend, the Cyclones enjoyed a crowd of 52,763 in a losing effort to the Kansas State University Wildcats.

In fact, in 2016, ISU is averaging 51,485 in home games despite its poor play.

The prospect of joining a Power Five Conference was fun while it lasted, but it is obvious now that it was not deserved in the first place. Schools in major conferences have no trouble filling stadiums game-in and game-out across all of their sports, one thing that UH fans seem unable to do.

Until alumni, students and fans display an ounce of effort to support their teams regardless of circumstance, UH Athletics will not take the next step as a program.

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