Falcon Points

With bizarre D'Eriq King announcement, UH is playing the long game. Will it work?

Photo via Houston Cougar Football/Facebook

When the news broke on Monday, it made little sense. Sensational senior quarterback D'Eriq King and receiver Keith Corbin announced they were redshirting thanks to a new rule that allows players to do so after four games. It was confusing, in that some reports had King planning to transfer.

As of now, he says he is staying. But should he decide to transfer, he will be a hot property. On the surface, punting on the season seems bizarre. But if it really plays out this way and he is back at UH next season, the move makes a lot of sense.

Rough start

King is under his third coach in four years. When Dana Holgorsen came in, it seemed to be a godsend for the program, a successful Power Five coach with a knack for offense. But a tough early schedule that included games against Oklahoma and Washington State led to a 1-3 start. The killer was a loss at Tulane, a game in which UH blew a 21-point lead. Even with King and Corbin, the Cougars have little shot at anything more than a bottom feeder bowl game.

Does it make sense?

Make no mistake, the Cougars are tanking. It's not something we have seen in college football. But if King does return, it makes sense. Holgorsen has several high profile transfers sitting out this season, and the roster will be in much better shape in 2020. King can work on his craft for another year and come back ready to make a run at a conference title; maybe more. Or he can graduate and go to a bigger school. His accuracy was not the same this season; time off to work on it could help.

Bare cupboard

The Cougars collapse began last season, and culminated in an ugly bowl loss to Army, one that cost Major Applewhite his job. Other than King and a few quality players, Applewhite left a fairly bare cupboard, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The decline actually started in Tom Heman's final year, and got worse under Applewhite.

The Cougars are better than they were at the end of last season, but the record does not reflect it. Truthfully, they aren't good enough to compete for a conference title. So why not get some young players experience and come back strong next season?

Serious impact this year

With King, the Cougars might have been favored in three or four games left in the season. They would need five wins to get bowl eligible. As it stands? They will likely only be favored in one, against UConn.

They opened as 1 1/2 point favorites at North Texas; now they are seven point underdogs. Clayton Tune has some experience at quarterback, filling in when King got hurt last year. He won't be a disaster. But the Cougars will not be nearly as good.

People who bought season tickets on the Holgorsen hope can't be happy. This is not what they were sold on. It also means the Cougars better have some success in 2020, or Holgorsen's seat will get hot fast. He is likely headed for a losing season at a place that brags about firing coaches for eight win seasons.

Now that will have to happen in 2020, when they have games at Washington State and at BYU. But who knows how it will all play out? The bizarre move does not guarantee them anything. But despite how it looks on the surface, it does make some sense.

Welcome to tanking in college football. To quote Dodgeball, "That's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off."


My friends are degenerates
But I'd never change them
Liars, cheats, and hypocrites
Not the type for saving

- A Day To Remember

If you listen to the Blitz, that is the second hour intro. And if you have been paying attention to Houston sports this week, you know it has been filled with liars, cheats and hypocrites. Many have said it was the worst 24 hours in Houston sports history. From a national attention standpoint, it might be the best, because finally the rest of the nation has noticed the sports scene here.

For years, Houston sports fan has chafed that their teams don't get enough attention from the national media.

They are getting plenty of attention now. Congrats, Houston, this is what your sports teams are known for after one of the most bizarre weeks in Houston sports history.

The liars

University of Houston quarterback D'Eriq King made the odd decision to red shirt after four games, with the presumption he would return in 2020. He constantly repeated that he would be back. On Tuesday night, clearly hoping to avoid the spotlight, he announced during the national championship game his intent to transfer.

He insisted he was staying several times, despite rumors that turned out to be true that he never had any intention of returning. It was a bad look for coach Dana Holgorsen, who banked his 2020 season on King, and a worse look for King, who could have just said "as of now, I am planning on staying." Instead he was intentionally misleading.

And the national media noticed. Even though it happened during the championship game, the story made the front page of ESPN.com, and it mentioned all the times King said he was staying. It was a subtle way of highlighting the lies.

It was a bad look for everyone, and closed out a rough day for Houston sports fan.

The earlier news, of course, was The Big Lie.

The cheats

Well, that's easy. The Astros were hit with a loss of draft picks, a fine, and year-long suspensions for their manager and GM.

Shortly thereafter, owner Jim Crane fired GM Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch. Major league baseball's discoveries were damning.

There is no doubt the Astros cheated. It's hard to believe that everyone in the organization did not know. But the statement exonerated Crane. We can debate if the punishment was enough, but lost in all of it was that it was a "player-driven" scheme. MLB chose not to punish the players, presumably since there is nothing in the collective bargaining agreement to allow it. Regardless, it leaves a lot of questions. Which players? All of them? Just the stars?

Make no mistake, this has been a major national story from the beginning. It dominated talk and headlines on Monday, even in the wake of NFL playoffs and the college championship. The national opinion? The Astros are cheaters and should have been punished more. If you are a fan, you likely don't care. Or you blame the whistleblower. But the nation has a different opinion. If the team struggles in 2020, you can bet the narrative will be that they can't win without cheating. This one isn't going away. But the controversy let someone else off the hook...

The hypocrites

Rest assured, no one was happier to see the Astros announcements than Bill O'Brien, whose epic, historic collapse in Kansas City was swept to the back pages. His inane comments that "we are headed in the right direction" went without being called out. His poor decisions went unnoticed. His inability to look at his organization and recognize change is needed was lost.

We have been saying that in Houston for years. But after his flaws were exposed to a national audience, finally the rest of the world realizes he is in over his head. Several national outlets said he should be fired.

O'Brien said again he won't hire a GM. He said that defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel is expected to return next year despite two years of terrible defense. His complete power over the organization makes it clear meaningful change is not coming. We get that O'Brien is not going anywhere, but his stubborn reliance on yes men and cronies and refusal to bring in a legitimate offensive coordinator or replace Crennel means there is no hope for the franchise to take the next step. Sometimes you need new voices. O'Brien's just gets louder and louder and drowns out everyone else's.

Since he became coach, the other three teams in the AFC South have made the AFC Championship Game. The Texans are the only team to fail to do that. Yet they are going in the right direction, according to O'Brien.

What does it all mean? 

The city's teams are finally getting national run. Whether or not it is for good reasons in immaterial. Houston is in the national spotlight. If you are a fan, all you can do is embrace the liars, cheats and hypocrites, and roll with it. And wait for the Rockets to find a way to make news.

The reality is this has been going on for decades. Baseball in particular is a sport that welcomes cheating. Athletes and teams have been lying to you for years. Speaking of hypocrites, if you ripped the Patriots but defend the Astros? The bottom line is fans love to turn a blind eye. And that's just fine. But pretending this isn't a reality is naive.

As fans, you want to believe you are rooting for good people. You wear their jerseys. But the reality is when that much money is on the line, people are going to do whatever they can outside the rules. Maybe it is overly cynical, but the truth is most of them grew up in a culture of cheating and taking short cuts and trying not to get caught. Should we act surprised when they do? Bad people exist in all walks of life. Money attracts more of them.

There is a LOT of money in sports.

And to think it is just Houston is silly. Players like Cody Bellinger saying the Dodgers did things the "right way" might want to hold off. More will come out, and you look even worse when you say stuff like that and your team is the next one.

That leaves Houston fans to just embrace and accept reality. And before you say, "this is harsh and unfair..." is there anything in here that is not true?

Oh, and enjoy the 2017 World Series, because at this rate, that is all you will be able to hang your hat on.

But at least the national media notices you now.

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