The exposure the University of Texas received in January — when the football team played Alabama in the national championship game — is hard to put a dollar figure on. Until recently, many may have not even known where Boise is, but the success of Boise State’s football team has put them on the map. That’s why state representative Garnett Coleman says the University of Houston should pull whatever strings, or knock on whatever doors, it has to join the Big 12 Conference, which includes perennial powers Texas and Oklahoma, as well as, Texas A&M.
“Sports have become a part of economic development and the future of the University of Houston as a Tier One, and the future of our city and our region depends on whether or not we’re competitive in those things that bring resources to our region. And clearly, sports and student athletes bring resources to the region.”
The Longhorns are on regional television every week. Many times the games are televised nationally on ESPN or ABC. That’s free publicity for the city of Austin, the University of Texas, and there’s the millions the team gets from the TV contract itself.
“In other words when you’re on TV, it’s a commercial for the university.”
Representative Coleman says he’s going to do whatever he can to help UH campaign for the Big 12. He’s even started a UH for Big 12 group on Facebook. Hundreds of alumni and fans have joined the group and say they’re all for the change.
For those wondering why a politician is getting involved in what might appear to be a strictly sports related issue. Coleman says it’s bigger than just sports. Like the Boise example, a successful team can do a lot for a University and the surrounding area. In Conference USA, UH currently play teams like Texas El Paso, Tulane and Marshall. It’s not the same as playing Texas, Oklahoma and A&M.
“It doesn’t change with college athletics. It is about the prestige of the city and it is about jobs. And it is about improvement of the academic circumstance. I’ve been working since 1999 on Tier One and we’re on the cusp of getting there and it’s time for UH to have its time in the sun.”
By adding UH, the Big 12 would add the large Houston market to its list of television viewers — a plus for advertisers. The problem is the UH football team doesn’t have a huge following, at least not like the big schools. So what happens next? No one knows.
Representative Coleman’s plans are to make more calls, write more letters and send more people to his Facebook group.