The old phrase used by coaches, a game at a time, has become a way of life for the Houston Cougars these days. They are very close to sitting on top of the college football world. And with only two games to play, undefeated at 10-0, being led by Heisman Trophy quarterback candidate, Case Keenum, a possible BCS Conference affiliation with the Big East, ranked number 11 in the latest BCS poll, and a possible BCS bowl berth, the only thing 4th year Head Coach Kevin Sumlin can do is – handle it!
“Our approach has been consistent this year. We try to be honest with each other every week. We try to address the good things and the bad things. I think we have handled it better this year as a team and as players. I think I have handled it better this year. I am always learning.”
“Sometimes dealing with success is more difficult than dealing with failure. Fortunately, we have a group of guys who have been through this before. I am not just talking about the seniors, but also the juniors who were here two years ago. We went from no attention to overnight attention. Unless you have been through it, it can be hard to handle.”
The Cougars will host the 6-4 SMUMustangs and Head Coach June Jones this Saturday. The four-letter-network’s flagship college football program known as ‘GameDay’ will be on the UH campus and will begin the setup on Thursday. More excitement looms as sources indicate that officials from the Orange and Sugar Bowl committees will meet with UH at the end of the week.
With so many distractions, the Head Coach knows his job becomes more about managing emotions and keeping his team focused PRIOR TO game number 11. But, this week is also about embracing and enjoying the moment.
“We are excited about this week. It is an exciting time here at theUniversityofHoustonwith ‘GameDay’ coming, for the city and for all of our fans. I think it is a compliment to what the players have accomplished so far. Our guys are excited for what they have accomplished already this season. They also understand what is out in front of them.”
This excitement and these types of events are commonplace for the Nations’ top athletic programs with which Sumlin is quite familiar. Before taking the head coaching position atHouston, Sumlin served the previous five seasons atOklahomaas both co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach. He was also special teams’ coordinator and tight ends coach from 2003 to 2005. So, Sumlin fully understands the blueprint for success.
“We are in the business of building a program. Part of building a program is you have to go through positive and negative outcomes. I have been impressed with how the players and the coaches have approached this on a day-to-day basis.”
There’s no question that winning out is and has to be the aim of the Houston Cougars with so much on the table. And with SMUandTulsa left on the schedule, winning out is not a given.