MAKING A SPLASH

Holgorsen hire shows UH, Fertitta serious about playing with the big boys

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The Houston Cougars are making a big splash, hiring West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen to take over the football program.

Holgorsen, who spent eight years with the Mountaineers, is one of the best offensive minds in college football. He is a high profile hire that should get Houston back to the top of non-power 5 programs.

At first blush, it would appear to be a step down from a high-profile Big 12 program. But with the facilities, recruiting ground and vision at UH, the program is at worst a lateral move. UH is a top three Group of Five program (Boise and UCF being the others) and the program has a good national reputation. Holgorsen still has a home in Houston, should be able to recruit at a high level and win a lot of games. The question is would you rather be at a top 3 Group of Five or a top 40 Power Five? The path to New Year's Six games and possibly even the playoffs may indeed be the former.

Despite really awful takes like this one, the move once again proves that UH has high aspirations. They gave Major Applewhite two years, but the school never looked like the dominant group we saw under Tom Herman and Kevin Sumlin. Applewhite could be a good coach at a lower level, but the UH job was over his head. There was no indication of a big leap in Year 3.

Kudos to Tilman Fertitta, Chris Pezman and Renu Khator for recognizing that and correcting a mistake. Holgorsen should have instant success. Applewhite's failure - like a lot of coaches - was an inability to hire the right people, and he was not good enough to run an offense on his own in addition to being the head coach. Holgorsen can run an offense on his own. If he can get the right defensive coordinator, he has a chance to be an instant success.

He immediately becomes the best coach in the American Conference, and his offense will be good enough to play with anyone on the schedule. Winning at West Virginia is not easy considering the competition in the Big 12. He won't have to regularly compete with Oklahoma, Texas, Oklahoma State and company. It's hard to see losses to SMU and Temple under Holgorsen.

Holgorsen's deal will be for reportedly $4 million a year for five years. His buyout at West Virginia is just $1 million. He will be the highest paid coach in the Group of Five, another indication just how serious Houston is about competing at a high level. Since Fertitta has become involved, the program has had high aspirations. Fertitta has deep pockets and the kind of personality that gets attention. It's doubtful the school could lure a coach like Holgorsen without him.

This is without a doubt a high profile, big time hire and a home run move. With Holgorsen heading up the football program and Kelvin Sampson's success in basketball, the Cougars are on the right track, and the Holgorsen hire takes them to a new level. Could it backfire? Maybe. Holgorsen won roughly 60 percent of his games at West Virginia. But in an easier conference with a fertile recruiting ground, it would be surprising if he did not succeed.

There are no negatives to this move. Cougar fans should be excited.

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After the Mariners came alive late in Monday's series opener to hand the Houston the loss and keep their playoff picture hanging in the balance, the Astros returned to T-Mobile Park on Tuesday to try and decrease their magic number. Here's how the middle game went:

Final Score: Astros 6, Mariners 1.

Record: 28-27, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Framber Valdez (5-3, 3.57 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Casey Sadler (1-2, 5.40 ERA).

Both teams trade first-inning runs

The Astros struck first in Tuesday's game, not waiting around until the ninth inning to get on the board. Instead, they jumped out to an immediate 1-0 lead after a two-out RBI-single by Kyle Tucker in the top of the first. The Mariners responded quickly, though, getting a leadoff single in the bottom of the inning before a two-out RBI-double of their own to tie it 1-1.

Astros score five in the sixth

The 1-1 score held all the way until the top of the sixth when the Astros would flip the script from the night prior, taking advantage of some mistakes by Seattle to put up a big inning. First, Michael Brantley started the inning with a solo go-ahead homer to make it 2-1. Then, Kyle Tucker would get his third hit of the night with one out before eventually scoring after a walk and two wild pitches, making it 3-2. With two walks to keep the inning alive and put some insurance runs on base, Martin Maldonado took advantage with a big three-run home run to extend the lead to 6-1.

Valdez finishes seven strong, Astros even series

After allowing the one run in the bottom of the first, Framber Valdez recovered and put together a solid outing on the mound. He allowed just five hits total, two of which came in the first, then back-to-back singles in the fourth and a single in the fifth, while otherwise keeping the Mariners at bay. He would end up completing seven innings of one-run baseball while striking out eight. His final line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 0 HR, 108 P.

After Valdez, Enoli Paredes would take over in the bottom of the eighth, working around a leadoff single to get a scoreless inning to keep it 6-1. In the non-save situation, Josh James would come in for the bottom of the ninth and finish off the win for Houston.

Up Next: The finale and rubber game of this three-game set will start a bit earlier on Wednesday, with first pitch scheduled for 5:40 PM Central. The pitching matchup will be Nick Margevicius (1-3, 5.35 ERA) for the Mariners going against Zack Greinke (3-2, 3.90 ERA) for the Astros.

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