MAKING A SPLASH

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

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

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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TEXAS LONGHORNS (10-4), (1-2)

Last week (1-1): L - Oklahoma 72-62, W - 64-50

This week: Wednesday vs. Oklahoma State, Saturday vs. Kansas

After dropping their second consecutive conference game, the Texas Longhorns picked up their first win with a 64-50 victory over Kansas State, Saturday night, inside the Frank C. Erwin Center in Austin.

In the win, Texas had one of their best defensive performances of the season, as the Longhorns held the Wildcats to a season-low 50 points, which includes 23 points on 30.0% field goal shooting (9-30) in the second half.

Following the win, UT will hit the road to take on the Oklahoma State Cowboys on Wednesday, before hosting a Big 12 match against the Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday.

TEXAS A&M AGGIES (8-6), (2-1)

Last week (2-0): W - Ole Miss 57-47, W- Vanderbilt 69-50

This week: Tuesday vs. LSU, Saturday South Carolina

Unlike their in-state rivals in Austin, the Texas Aggies had a perfect week after dropping their conference opener against Arkansas. Texas A&M pulled off a victory against Ole Miss (57-47) and Vanderbilt (69-50) to improve on 2-1 in conference play.

In both games, Josh Nebo came up huge for the Aggies, but none more so than in the win against Ole Miss. The senior forward from Houston scored 17 points while shooting 5-for-5 from the floor, and grabbing nine rebounds and collected four blocks in the win. Following the win, The Aggies will host LSU and South Carolina inside the Reed Arena in College Station.

Houston Cougars (12-4), (2-1)

Last week (1-1): W - Temple 78-74, L- Tulsa 63-61

This week: Wednesday vs. SMU, Saturday vs. Wichita State

The Houston Cougars extended their winning streak to six before dropping a two-point loss to the Tulsa Golden Hurricane on Saturday. In the loss, the Cougars missed seven consecutive shots in the last five minutes despite holding a 60-54 lead midway through the second half.

In both games, freshman guard Caleb Mills came up huge averaging 22.5 points on 51.5% shooting from the field, 48.2% from 3-point range. After the tough loss, the Cougars will return to the Fertitta Center for a Texas showdown against SMU before taking on Wichita State on Saturday.

RICE OWLS (9-8), (1-3)

Last week (1-1): L - Florida Atlantic 81-76, W - FIU 92-78

This week: Thursday vs. Louisiana Tech, Saturday Southern Miss

After losing their fourth straight game in a loss to the Florida Atlantic Owls on Thursday, the Rice Owls bounced back with a convincing 14-point victory over the FIU Panthers on Saturday.

In the win, Rice shot a blazing 52.9% from the field, 40.0% from 3-point land. Five players led the Owls in scoring with Ako Adams leading the way with 19 points (7-13 FG, 5-10 3PT), while Josh Parrish added in 18. Up next, Rice will look to make it two straight against Louisiana Tech on Thursday.

BAYLOR BEARS (13-1), (3-0)

Last week (2-0): W - Texas Tech 57-52, W - Kansas 67-55

This week: Wednesday vs. Iowa State, Saturday Oklahoma State

While improving their national rank to No. 2, the Baylor Bears extended their conference play winning streak to three with wins against Texas Tech on Tuesday and Kansas on Saturday.

In the win against Texas Tech, only one player scored in double digits (Davion Mitchell 14), as the Bears struggled offensively on the road. However, in their 12-point victory over the Jayhawks, Baylor had four players to score in double figures with Jarred Butler leading the way with 22 points shooting 50% from the field, 42.8% from behind the arc.

Following their overall 12th straight victory, the Bears will put their winning streak on the line against Iowa State on Wednesday.

TCU HORNED FROGS (12-3), (3-0)

Last week (2-0): W - Kansas State 59-57, W - Oklahoma State 52-40

This week: Tuesday vs West Virginia, Saturday vs Oklahoma

Currently riding a four-game winning streak, the TCU Horned Frogs are off to a great start to their Big 12 Conference play with wins against Kansas State (59-57) and Oklahoma State (52-40) this past week.

In both games, Desmond Bane proved to be too much for his opponents to handle, averaging 18 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. Following the win, TCU will continue their conference play against West Virginia on Tuesday.

TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS (10-5), (1-2)

Last week: (0-2) L - Baylor 57-52, West Virginia 54-66

This week: Tuesday vs. Kansas State, Saturday vs. Iowa State

After falling to the Baylor Bears on their home floor, the Texas Tech Red Raiders dropped their second consecutive game in a 66-54 loss to No. 17 West Virginia.

With their star guard Jahmi'us Ramsey scoring a season-low eight points, Davide Moretti led Texas Tech with 16 points after connecting on four 3-point field goals. Outside Moretti, the Red Raiders struggled as a whole shooting just 30.9 percent from the field. Up next, Tech will look to end their two-game losing skid against Kansas State on Tuesday.

SMU MUSTANGS (12-3), (2-1)

Last week: (1-1) W - UCF 81-74, L - ECU 71-68

This week: Wednesday vs. Houston, Saturday Temple

Following an 81-74 victory over UCF, the SMU Mustangs lost a heartbreaking 71-68 defeat at the hands of East Carolina on Saturday. Tristen Newton scored a 3-point basket in the final second of the game to lead ECU to the upset win over the Mustangs.

Isiaha Mike tallied in 21 points, as SMU's four-game winning streak came to end. Following the loss, the Mustang will look to get back to their winning ways on Wednesday, in an American Athletic showdown against the Houston Cougars in Houston.

LSU TIGERS (11-4), (3-0)

Last week (2-0): W - Arkansas 79-77, W - Mississippi State 60-59

This week: Tuesday vs Texas A&M, Saturday Ole Miss

Nowhere near the same level of excitement as their colleagues on the gridiron who just took home the National Championship title, the LSU Tigers are currently riding a four-game winning streak after picking up wins against Arkansas and Mississippi State.

In the win against the Mississippi State, Skylar Mays scored a go-ahead buzzer beater in the final seconds of the game to lead the Tigers to a nail-biting one-point victory. Following the win, the Tigers will travel to College Station to take on the Texas A&M Aggies, before moving on to Oxford Mississippi to take on Ole Miss.

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