Houston beating Sooners on field, Longhorns on TV, prove Cougars belong in Big 12

Houston stud QB, Greg Ward Jr. stiff arms Oklahoma safety, Stephen Parker during Saturday’s 33-23 victory over the Sooners.

You don’t have to be a mathematician to figure out a 33-23 score is a larger number than score of 12.0 – 11.5. However, in the world of college football TV ratings, the Big 12, and Houston Cougars football, the 12.8- 11.5 score is just as big, if not bigger. The Houston Cougars won two huge battles in college football’s first weekend of play in 2016. The Coogs defeated the Oklahoma Sooners 33-23 on the field, and then defeated the Texas Longhorns in living rooms across the Houston TV market, 12.8 – 11.5.

According to the Nielsen Ratings, the Houston vs Oklahoma game drew a 12.8 overnight rating in the Houston TV market compared to 11.5 for Texas vs Notre Dame. Both are huge numbers and are better than any game drew in the Houston market for 2015. Nationally, Houston – OU drew a very respectable 4.0, while the Longhorns and Irish drew a 7.0. The largest rating for an opening weekend college football game ever for ESPN.

In one weekend, the once lowly Houston Cougars took down the big bad Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns. Not to mention, this game also included the mighty Fighting Irish, who have a huge following everywhere.

Here’s how the Texas – Notre Dame game did in Houston and other markets across the country.

In 2015, the Big 12 lost out big time to the SEC jn terms of TV ratings. They also lost out to the University of Houston.

In this sportsandswag.com article, there’s a look at 2015’s 20 most watched college football games in the Houston market. It was mostly dominated by Alabama and the SEC. But, Houston also had a lot of success.

With Big 12 expansion a hot topic for the foreseeable future, the Cougars win over Oklahoma could pay huge dividends. Scratch that. It should pay huge dividends. Big 12 fans are skeptical about the Cougars joining the Big 12. Few give Houston much respect. But, what better way to gain respect by beating the league’s top two programs, in the same weekend? The Big 12 needs to grab Houston, and they need to grab it now.

Houston Cougars head coach, Tom Herman, knows exactly how big a weekend this was for his program. In a Tuesday interview on ‘The First Team’ on SiriusXM College Sports Nation, Herman acknowledged just that. “Those numbers don’t go by me,” Herman said when asked if he’d seen the Nielsen Ratings for the two games. Herman, seems to know being a head coach is about much more than just coaching. It’s also about marketing your team. He also realizes the Cougars reside in the nation’s 4th largest city and 8th largest TV market. That’s a lot of potential eyes on his program.

Houston head coach Tom Herman celebrates 2015 Chick Fil-a Bowl win over Florida State in Atlanta. Photo Credit: Brett Davis (USA Today Sports)

Herman, also acknowledged that it was his doing for the Houston Cougars to wear ‘Houston’ on their jerseys. He said, that the University of Houston belongs to the city of Houston and they should represent it to the utmost.

Tom Herman, gets it. What an incredible hire he’s turned out to be for the Houston Cougars and the city of Houston. But, can they keep him? Herman’s claim to fame is still how he handled Ohio State’s offense in their 2014 run to the national title. There are some that blame the Buckeyes’ offensive struggles in 2015 on his departure.

With some really big head coaching jobs rumored to come open in the near future, the likelihood of Herman landing someplace else are pretty decent. Joining the Big 12 could change all that. Odds are that the Cougars wont be able to keep him if they remain in the AAC. Herman, is proving the Houston Cougars can recruit and compete with the Big 12. Now, they’re also proving they can get people in Houston to turn on their TV’s. Who wouldn’t watch a team that’s such fun to watch? What more proof does the Big 12 need?

When, the Big 12 expands, the Houston Cougars should be first on their list. If not, they risk losing the Houston market more to the SEC, and Tom Herman along with it.

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