Falcon Points

UH's rise to prominence can be traced to Fertitta's involvement with the school

Among Houston sports owners, there appears to be a clear power broker emerging.

Jim Crane brought a World Series to Houston, which will forever endear him to the Houston sports fan. Cal McNair has just recently taken over for his late father as the owner of the Texans, so he has yet to build a profile in the city.

That brings us to Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta. In a very short time, he has made an incredible impact on the Houston sports landscape. The Billion Dollar Buyer's Rockets damned near knocked off the Warriors in his first year as owner. If the team can stay healthy, maybe they make another run this year.

He also holds the keys to a potential NHL team in Houston, controlling Toyota Center.

But Fertitta's real impact has come as chairman of the board of regents at the University of Houston.

Fertitta was instrumental in the school raiding a power five program for head football coach Dana Holgorsen. He was responsible for the shiny new Fertitta Center, perhaps the best sports experience in the city. He is the kind of high profile, high energy personality that was sorely needed at UH. He is good with the media and not afraid to step into the spotlight.

Along with president Renu Khator, Fertitta has brought big ideas and a big vision to the school. And he has put his money where his mouth is by funding the renovation of the basketball arena.

The result? When it comes to the two biggest revenue sports, UH has become one of the most successful Group of Five programs, and is better situated than most of the non high profile Power Five programs.

He has also shown is he not willing to accept mediocrity. When Major Applewhite was hired to coach the football team, it made sense. It was an attempt to continue building on Tom Herman's success. It failed.

Rather than trying to ride it out, he went after Holgorsen, who should be a big winner at UH. Fertitta and company also appear to have made a strong hire in AD Chris Pezman.

Of course, the high profile sport at the moment is Kelvin Sampson's basketball team, ranked in the Top 10 with a 26-1 record, a projected No. 3 seed in the tournament and a dark horse candidate for the Final Four. They have turned the Fertitta Center into the place to be, with stars like Chris Paul and Alvin Kamara sitting courtside.

Not every move has worked out, but the school's bigtime vision has been fun to watch. The Cougars pursued the Big 12, but were rebuffed. Instead of folding up, they spent more money on facilities.

Keep winning, and at some point UH will be valuable to a bigger conference, perhaps the Pac-12, which is lagging behind the other Power Fives. It would bring a major market to help boost a flagging TV Network, as well as a high profile program that will only get better. Or they will simply help build the AAC into something even bigger.

The key is to keep winning and people will notice.

Fertitta gets that. His name recognition alone is helping to raise the profile of the school. But he continues to dream big, and push for more for UH.

Yes, a lot of other people are responsible for what is going on at UH. This is not to diminish their impact. But Fertitta's profile and money have been a driving force. His involvement has made them relevant.

So yes, Fertitta might be the biggest management name in Houston sports right now. Rockets owner. Perhaps soon to be NHL owner. But most importantly, the leadership face of UH athletics.

Oh yes, and Billion Dollar Buyer.

How far will UH go? That remains to be seen. But it would be silly to bet against the school or Fertitta.

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Houston looked much more like themselves

Astros return to form in win over Angels at home

Cristian Javier was impressive Thursday night. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Hoping to avoid spiraling further out of control, the Astros turned the page from their disappointing road trip and the recent stretch of games. They hoped to start this new homestand on a good note, welcoming in the Angels for four games of this eight-game stint at Minute Maid Park.

Houston would get the much-needed win, with their offense coming alive early in the game to put up big innings, which they rode to the victory thanks in part to a great start by Cristian Javier.

Final Score: Astros 8, Angels 2

Astros' Record: 8-10, fifth in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Cristian Javier (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Alex Cobb (1-1)

Astros' offense starts clicking early

Houston would grab the early momentum, despite leaving the bases loaded in the first inning. They would get a leadoff double by Aledmys Diaz in the bottom of the second, followed by an RBI triple by Myles Straw to jump in front 1-0. They made it a three-run inning, with an RBI by Carlos Correa then a bases-loaded RBI-walk by Yuli Gurriel, though for consecutive innings would leave three runners stranded on base.

Correa drove in another in the bottom of the next inning, getting an RBI single to push the lead to four runs, then would come in on a two-run single by Alex Bregman, who made it 6-0. That set things up nicely for Cristian Javier, who was on the mound trying to take advantage of the opportunity for another start.

Javier has an electric start



Javier was electric over the first three innings, including getting eight of the first nine outs by strikeout while allowing only a walk and double during that span. He would have longer innings in the next two, but in both cases would keep the Angels off the board, finishing in line for the win. His final line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 98 P.

Houston gets the much-needed win

Meanwhile, Houston's offense kept scoring. They pushed the lead two runs further over the fourth and fifth, getting a run in each with another RBI each for Straw and Bregman. With Javier's night done, Bryan Abreu was first out of the Astros bullpen, and despite allowing a controversial two-run home run to Albert Pujols, of all people, that looked to be a foul ball, got through the inning.

Abreu remained in the game in the top of the seventh but would get just one out while hitting a batter and allowing a single before Dusty Baker brought in Brooks Raley to face the heavy left-handed part of the Angels lineup. Raley would get through it, sending things to the seventh-inning stretch with the six-run lead intact.

Raley would get another out before Joe Smith would finish that inning in the top of the eighth. Ryan Pressly, who has been starved for work lately with no save opportunities, would close things out in the ninth as Houston would start this series off with a win.

Up Next: Game two of this four-game set will be another 7:10 PM start on Friday night. Andrew Heaney (1-1, 5.65 ERA) will be on the mound for the Angels, while Zack Greinke (2-1, 2.81 ERA) will look to repeat the success of his last start; an eight-inning shutout performance for the Astros.

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