Cougars hope TDECU becomes synonymous with winning
It has been a long time since UH’s football stadium was a source of envy.
The Astrodome had seen better days by the time the Cougars took their talent to an on-campus stadium for the first time 45 years.
Robertson Stadium was nearly thirty years old and far from state-of-the-art when UH purchased it from HISD in 1970. Despite name changes — it was called Houston Public Stadium, Jeppesen and finally Robertson to honor former Board of Regents member Corbin J. Robertson after a $2 million gift — and changes in appearance, even some high school stadiums in Texas had a more appealing aesthetic.
UH’s nearly-completed $120 million project is a welcome sight for UH fans and supporters. The Cougars’ fanbase anticipated a stadium that embodied the ambition of a program looking to capitalize on the momentum it gained with a 13-1 season in 2011.
Recently, UH partnered with Texas Dow Employees Credit Union on a naming-rights deal reportedly worth $15 million over 10 years, a figure Athletics Director Mack Rhoades said he was looking for in January.
However, few have come to a consensus as to whether the stadium’s new name, TDECU Stadium, is a welcome sound.
“Honestly, it’s a nice change but not a good name,” said alumnus DeRon Octave. “Something more catchy that has a ring to it would have been better, like Cougar Palace, but I didn’t see anything wrong with Robertson Stadium.”
The name is too clunky and doesn’t roll off the tongue, some commented. We’ll always call it the Rob, others tweeted. One comment on The Daily Cougar’s Facebook page noted that the name sounds like a touchdown for East Carolina University, a competitor in the American Athletic Conference.
“The name is not enticing at all,” said public relations senior Mayowa Ogunboye. “It should have been something that represents the University and credits TDECU, but I’ll still be calling it Robertson Stadium.”
At $1.5 million per year, UH’s naming-rights deal is the largest acquired by a Football Bowl Subdivision school.
Among NCAA facilities, the agreement trails only Illinois’ State Farm Center and Fresno State’s Save Mart Center, both deals worth $2 million annually, according to SportsBusiness Journal.
For their $15 million, TDECU will be featured on signage across the stadium, including prominent placement on the exterior of the stadium, on the video board and on the playing surface.
A few perks will be provided too.
According to the Houston Chronicle, “TDECU will also receive a suite located on the 50-yard line, along with ticket discounts for employees and members. UH and TDECU have a mutual option of extending the deal for another five years for an additional $7.5 million.”
Some students are meeting the naming deal’s controversy in the middle, responding with humor.
“To think on the bright side, we’ll be the only stadium with that acronym,” said engineering sophomore Spencer Jordan.
Some may never accept the name due to an aversion to change in general. Others, who’ve become accustomed to the Rob will always refer to TDECU Stadium as such. But, the hoopla will subside — as all social media controversies do.
What matters for the Cougars is what happens between the lines on John O’Quinn field. If UH keeps ECU from scoring touchdowns in TDECU, fans will embrace the stadium’s name. Statistically speaking, the Cougars have a good chance at doing that.
The Cougars will return 28 full or part-time starters for the 2014 campaign, which includes the 2013 leader in every major statistical category excluding special teams.
Perennial American Athletic Conference favorite Louisville is moving to the Atlantic Coast Conference. The 2013 conference champion UCF has to replace its starting quarterback and the No. 3 pick in the NFL draft Blake Bortles, Storm Johnson, an 1,100-yard rusher and three all-conference offensive linemen.
The youthful 2013 Cougars challenged each of the top three teams in the American, with each game decided on the last possession.
With sophomore John O’Korn, statistically one of the best freshman quarterbacks in UH history, and top weapons Daniel Spencer and Deontay Greenberry returning, the Cougars have an opportunity to become one of the best offenses in the nation.
Bringing back its two ball-hawking junior safeties Trevon Stewart and Adrian McDonald, and a stout linebacker corp led by senior Derrick Mathews, UH should improve a defense that led the nation in turnovers.
Close losses such as mistakes and turnovers won’t be written off as a young team learning to win. If the Cougars win 11 games in the next three years, TDECU will be synonymous with success, not how well it slips off the tongue.
Rhoades said students and supporters will get used to the name.
“Give it a couple of weeks. It rolls off my tongue pretty well, and I think it will with our fans,” Rhoades said. “I am asking all our fans to get behind the people of TDECU, the organization and behind our Athletics program. We need you in the stadium.”