THE PALLILOG

Texans latest move is not a great look, but it was justified

The Texans fired HC David Culley on Thursday. Composite image by Jack Brame.

No pity party is warranted for ex-Texans Head Coach David Culley. He impressed as a head coach not at all. His retirement is funded by millions more dollars than it would have been had he remained an assistant coach in Baltimore or anywhere else. Still, washing Culley down a gulley after just one season makes Texans’ Emperor of Football Nick Caserio (and of course Cal McNair, and probably Jack Easterby) look worse.

It’s de facto acknowledgment that the Texans botched the hire when after one season they deemed their choice so bad that it was time to cut bait despite Culley having three more seasons of guaranteed salary. After the Texans’ miserable season mercifully ended Sunday, doing the deed took until Thursday? It took the last few days to put together the evaluation and decision? ? Somewhere on a spectrum from unimpressive to buffoonery, with disingenuous somewhere in there. Nevertheless, if Culley was determined to be over his head (he was) or at least immediately replaceable by someone better (he better be), firing him is of course justified. Cut your losses, move on, and do better with the next hire. Nevertheless, not a great look for the Texans or NFL that the only African-American hired as a head coach between the 2020 and 2021 seasons got only one year before getting his pink slip, albeit with a multi-million dollar go away check. As fair counter to that from the Texans’ perspective: Rick Smith, Romeo Crennel, Lovie Smith, Culley. Meaning the Texans’ resume of hiring minorities to positions of authority is not blank.

It’s not as if Culley underachieved. Of course, he didn’t overachieve either. The Texans’ 4-13 record was in line with low preseason expectations. The roster was terrible, in part by design. The greatest jockey in the world isn’t winning thoroughbred races saddled upon a jackass. Culley clearly was no great jockey. He certainly was guilty of too many bungled in-game decisions and explanations. Might he have grown in the job some in a second season? We’ll never know, but he didn’t look a good bet.

The idea that no decent coach would touch the Texans’ job with a ten foot pole is nonsense. Plenty might opt to wait for what they consider a better opportunity, but there are only 32 NFL head coaching gigs. Even on the low end, they pay well. The natural candidate pool of links to Caserio’s time with the New England Patriots includes Pats’ offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, 35 year old Pats’ linebackers coach Jerod Mayo, and Brian Flores, fired Monday as Head Coach of the Miami Dolphins.

The Texans have back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 2005 and 2006. Last time the Rockets finished with losing records in consecutive years? 1983 and 1984. Damn impressive. That changes in the next month, month and a half with the Rockets lugging their 12-31 record into the weekend.

Turn back the clock

Had NFL all-time great safety Kenny Houston on the radio show this week. If only vaguely or not at all familiar with him since he last played in 1980. think a blend of Ronnie Lott and Ed Reed and you get a pretty good idea. Houston played six seasons with the Oilers before being dealt to Washington where he played his remaining eight seasons. 12 time Pro Bowler, 12 times named first or second team All-Pro, named to both the NFL 75th and 100th anniversary teams. Pretty good for a ninth round draft choice out of Prairie View A&M. Houston was drafted in 1967, a class which produced eight Hall of Famers. No class since has produced more. 55 years ago is obviously a long time, but it is still notable that among Houston and his Class of ’67 Hall brethren not one played his college ball in the Southeastern Conference or Southwest Conference. Four of the eight played at so called “black colleges.” Houston at PV, Rayfield Wright at Fort Valley State, Lem Barney at Jackson State, and Willie Lanier at Morgan State. Gene Upshaw played at Division Two Texas A&I (now Texas A&M-Kingsville). Among those five only Upshaw was a first round pick.

Can you name the three “big school” Hall of Famers from the NFL 1967 Draft? Hints of course! Purdue quarterback, Syracuse running back, Notre Dame defensive lineman. Answer below.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. The Hall of Famers: Bob Griese, Floyd Little, Alan Page.

2. In Houston NFL head coach annals David Culley is no Bill Peterson. In 19 games as Oilers’ HC in the early 70s, Peterson went 1-18.

3. Betting the farm on it, most likely Super Wild Card Weekend upset winners: Bronze-Raiders Silver-Cardinals Gold-49ers

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The Coogs play Miami on Friday night. Photo by Alex Slitz/Getty Images.

Number one seed University of Houston is favored by 7.5 points over No. 5 Miami, and No. 2 University of Texas is favored by 4 over No. 3 Xavier Friday night in the Midwest Regional semifinals in Kansas City.

Talk about opening acts. If both UH and UT win, they’ll meet Sunday in a good ol’ WWE-style Texas death match for a berth in the Final Four at NRG Stadium in Houston. Thank you, Mr. Schedule Maker.

How much do you think Cougar fans would love for UH to get their hands on the Longhorns with so much at stake?

For one example, let’s go back to the future, Oct. 21, 2023, when Big 12 rivals UH and UT meet in football at TDECU Stadium on the Houston campus. The game already is a lock sellout with tickets in the upper deck commanding $141 per ticket on the secondary market. It will be UH’s first year in the big boy Big 12 and UT’s last go-around before heading to the SEC.

One last opportunity for lasting bragging rights.

That’s for a UH football game. At home. Where the Cougars typically have trouble packing half the house. For example, the Cougars will be hosting the Sam Houston Bearkats at TDECU Stadium a month earlier. Tickets for that game, the same exact seat going for $141 against UT, can be had right now … $17.

Yeah, there’s something special about UH getting the opportunity to face UT. In anything. Anywhere. And it’s been a long time since the two teams, once co-members of the Southwest Conference together, have met on the basketball court. A full decade, in fact. The last time they played was March 20, 2013 with the Cougars prevailing 73-72 in something called the College Basketball Invitational. The UH coach was James Dickey. UT was coached by Rick Barnes. Joe Young led the Cougars with 18 points. The Horns’ leading scorer was Julien Lewis with 28. UH finished that season with a 20-13 record. UT limped home at 16-18.

That was then, this is now. The UH-Miami game will air at 6:10 p.m. Friday on CBS with UH grad Jim Nantz calling the play-by-play. The game will alsO stream on Hulu +++. ESPN’s BPI (basketball power index) gives the Cougars a 90 percent chance of winning. We’ll take it.

The UT-Xavier game will follow at 8:45 p.m. on CBS. The Horns have a 70 percent chance of beating the Musketeers. If both chalks come through, they’ll meet Sunday afternoon with the game on CBS.

The Cougars have made six Final Four appearances: 1967, 1968, 1982, 1983, 1984, 2021. The Horns have made three Final Fours, the last time two decades ago.

Here’s the only sure bet if UH and UT meet Sunday - get to your sports bar early if you want a seat. This could be memorable.

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