Report this image
The Houston Cougars football program is an NCAA Division I FBS football team that represents the University of Houston. The team is commonly referred to as "Houston" or "UH" (spoken as "U of H"). The UH football program is a member of the American Athletic Conference. Houston is coached by head coach Tony Levine. From 1941 to 2012, the Cougars played home games on campus at Robertson Stadium, but that stadium was closed at the end of that season. The team will use Reliant Stadium for most of its 2013 home games before the new Houston Football Stadium opens at the former Robertson Stadium site in 2014. Throughout the Cougars' history, the team has won 10 conference championships and has several players as members of the College Football Hall of Fame, including a Heisman Trophy winner.
In 1941, Johnny Goyen, then sports editor for The Cougar, and Jack Valenti, president of the sophomore class, began a petition for an official intercollegiate football team at the university. The next year, the two called a student body meeting to organize another petition. This petition's purpose was to challenge Rice Institute (later known as Rice University) to a football game. The Rice Owls were an established program, having played since 1919 as a member of the Southwest Conference.
In August 1945, the University of Houston announced that the school would field a football team for the first time. Following the announcement, the Lone Star Conference, spearheaded by Theron J. Fouts of North Texas and Puny Wilson of Sam Houston State, extended an invitation for Houston to join on October 25, 1945.
In September 1946, the team became a reality after Harry Fouke, UH's first athletic director, hired successful high school coach Jewell Wallace, and tryouts were held. One hundred thirty students showed up, only ten of whom had actually played college football before. Many of the married students lived on-campus at a makeshift village for World War II veterans, while some others lived in the university's recreation center in bunks for naval recruits training at UH during the war. Prior to joining the Cougars, Wallace served as head coach for San Angelo High School.
During the spring training for the first team, Goyen and Valenti's petition was finally answered, as Coach Wallace arranged a small practice game between Rice and Houston. The meeting was to be at Rice. When the team arrived at the field in their practice uniforms, they realized that the game was much more serious. Officials were there, and the stadium was full of spectators. The game ended with Rice demolishing the Houston Cougars. The game had an attendance of 11,000. It wouldn't be until 1971 that the Cougars and Owls competed again.
Playing in Houston Public School Stadium as a part of the Lone Star Conference on September 21, 1946, the Cougars played their first official game against Southwestern Louisiana Institute (later known as the University of Louisiana at Lafayette) using the Split-T offensive strategy. Although Charlie Manichia, the Cougars' starting quarterback, scored the first touchdown of the game (and in Cougar history), the team lost to SLI 13–7.
The next game, the Cougars played against West Texas State Teachers College (later known as West Texas A&M University), and won their first game 14–12. The Cougars finished up their first season with a 4–6–0 record. Wallace continued as head coach for the Cougars until the end of the 1947 season, when Clyde Lee took over.