For the second year in a row, the Cougars will meet Air Force in the annual New Year’s eve match up, winning last year’s game 34-28. It’s been another big season for UH football, with standout performances from quarterback Case Keenum and Conference USA Coach of the Year honors for Kevin Sumlin. U-of-H Athletic Director Mack Rhoades says the Armed Forces bowl took note of the Cougars lively football atmosphere.
“When a bowl game sits there and looks at the teams that potentially could play in their game they really focus on, you know, how many fans that team is capable of bringing.”
The game is held on the TCU campus in Fort Worth, meaning lots of Houston fans can easily make the trip. Here in Houston the athletic department has been busy selling tickets, as well as making arrangements for taking the team on the road.
“You’re looking at a travel party of 100-plus when you talk about all the different student athletes, the coaches, their families, everyone. So it’s quite an operation.”
Rhoades says he hopes those efforts will pay off in showcasing the school’s athletic efforts, but also UH as a whole, as it works to achieve tier one status.
“This university is committed to academic excellence and it’s committed to excellence in terms of our athletic program and I think they go hand in hand. They feed off one another, they help one another.”
And bowl appearances can also play a role in attracting new students.
“USA Today did a comprehensive study several years ago about what it means to go to a bowl game in terms of applications, or the number of people applying to get into the university, the average SAT score. It all has a huge benefit.”
The December 31st morning match up isn’t competing with any other games and Rhodes also hopes that works in the school’s favor.
“Athletics is a huge window for any university, and certainly if you can have success, just the national platform that it places you on.”
You can see the Armed Forces bowl at 11:00 this morning on ESPN.