Posts Tagged ‘Mack Rhoades’

ElViento: So I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do with this site, and here’s what I’ve come up with.

I’m planning to have one weekly update, with links to applicable UH-related posts from SB Nation, as well as links and commentary on any other Cougar news items of the week. Then, a top-five list that’s completely unrelated, just for giggles.  So it’ll look something like this:

This Week On SB Nation Houston (7/1)

“Just Trust Me” – Feature on Mack Rhoades’ first year at UH

Karma delivered by former Cougar Rob Johnson

Sporting News gives Keeum back-handed compliment

Around The Web

Houston Cougar volleyball announces its 2010 schedule… First-year coach Molly Alvey isn’t ducking anybody. The Coogs will play TCU, UT-Austin, Florida State, Oklahoma and Tennessee among others.

Recent Astro draftee, and former Cougar Chris Wallace is tearing the cover off the ball with Greeneville. He homered three times in his first seven games as a professional.

And at last check, Blake Kelso was hitting .333 for the Vermont Lake Monsters (yes, that’s the real team name) in the Washington Nationals system.

Unrelated Top Five – Songs About Heaven Or Hell

Led Zeppelin – Stairway to Heaven

AC/DC – Hell’s Bells

OPM – Heaven is a Halfpipe

The Clash – Straight to Hell

Eric Clapton – Tears in Heaven


I’m now actively looking for more writers to have a better variety of opinions ’round here. If you want to sound off, use the ‘Contact Us’ tab to shoot me off an e-mail. Thanks.


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ElViento: The Cougar baseball team grabbed two of three wins from East Carolina on the road this weekend, avoiding the potentially embarrassing scenario of hosting a conference tournament and not qualifying to play in it.

In typical University of Houston style, more people have voiced concern about the above scenario than have actually attended a Cougar baseball game this year. Despite playing for a fan base that is fickle at best, and even though they have avoided doomsday, it has been a rough season for the Cougar baseballers. Barring a miracle post-season run, UH will finish below .500 for the second straight season. This has happened in spite of a distinct downturn in the overall talent of Conference USA this year, as compared to most. More frustrating than the fact that they have been losing is the manner in which they have lost. Through Saturday’s regular season-ending loss, the Cougar pitching staff had issued one hundred and twenty-two more walks and hit batters than the Cougar hitters have accumulated. That speaks to a general lack of discipline, which reflects poorly on the coaching staff. There’s clearly talent on this year’s team, it just hasn’t translated into wins, and somebody needs to be held accountable for that fact.

The argument is no longer whether or not head coach Rayner Noble deserves to stay, but whether or not UH can afford to buy out the last two years of his contract. The fact that Noble stayed home for Thursday’s game to watch his daughter’s graduation in the middle of a playoff push might indicate that Noble has one foot out the door.

If Noble resigns this off-season, it will cement an almost-eerie ability of athletics director Mack Rhoades to talk coaches into resignation. In less than a year since Rhoades took over, volleyball coach Bill Walton resigned suddenly, followed by men’s hoops coach Tom Penders, who had claimed he wasn’t leaving, then had a meeting with Rhoades, and immediately decided to resign. Women’s basketball coach Joe Curl has also resigned since Rhoades took over, but that was widely expected, given Curl’s lingering health issues.

Turning our attention to the present, UH is guaranteed to get to play three games in the conference tournament, as part of the new pool play format. One pod will contain the 1, 4 and 5 seeds, while the other pod will contain 2, 3, and 6. Each team plays the other two teams in its pod, and one team from the other pod. (1 vs 6, 2 vs 5, 3 vs 4) The top team from each pod by record (tiebreaker: head-to-head) advances to the championship game. Pending Saturday’s results, it looks like Houston is likely to earn the 5- or 6-seed. Either way, it means the Cougars will have at least one more shot at the Rice Owls, who have beaten UH in all five contests between the two teams this year.

Even a lot of the actual show-up-to-games fans didn’t expect Houston to make the conference tournament, and the coach may be out the door, so hopefully the Coogs can channel that “playing with house money” feeling, and play worry-free baseball. Lord knows this team is talented enough to make a run if they play their best.


I have mentioned the personal tragedy surrounding incoming Cougar hoopster Fabyon Harris in this space before, but for a much better write-up, check out this piece in the Chicago Tribune.

Reading the article, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between Harris and one of my all-time favorite Coogs, Anthony Alridge. While I don’t know that Alridge has the dramatic past that Harris does, consider the following parallels between the incoming guard and the former running back: Both missed out on being recruited by larger schools due to being of a smaller stature. Both draw raves for their “have to see it to believe it” quickness. And both will have a chip on their shoulder whenever they face SMU, due to academics. Harris pulled out of a verbal commitment to the Mustangs, after it became apparent that the coaching staff had no faith in Harris’s ability to earn a qualifying score on the ACT, and signed another player at Harris’s position. Alridge played his high school football in SMU’s backyard, and was miffed when SMU failed to recruit him. His desire to torch SMU became even more pronounced when then-head coach Phil Bennett implied that the reason his team had not recruited Alridge was that his academics were insufficient to get him into SMU.

Hope to see you at Cougar Baseball Stadium this week. It may be hard to believe, but unless the Coogs stun the conference for their second baseball tournament title in three years, this week will mark the end of the 2009-10 athletic calendar for the University of Houston. I’ll try to keep on finding interesting things to write about this summer, so stay tuned, and we can count down the days until football, together.

Go Coogs!

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ElViento: No, I’m not leaving. Nobody wants to pay me to write, don’t kid yourself. Go back and read the first letter of each line from the previous post. Then check the date. Then say, “Crap, he’s not leaving.” Then continue on with your life.

Anyway, imagine you’re the Athletics Director of a school in a similar situation to UH. You’re hiring a new basketball coach. You have two candidates – James Dickey and Tom Penders. Who would you choose?

I’d take Penders ten times out of ten. It wouldn’t even be a hard choice. So why’d we run him out of town if we couldn’t do better than Dickey with this hire?

For the purposes of making this simple, we will assume that Billy Gillispie wasn’t coming here. Assume Renu Khator didn’t like him, or we couldn’t afford him, or whatever your favorite conspiracy theory on the matter happens to be. We’ll also assume that NBA veteran coaches like Avery Johnson and Jeff Van Gundy were never serious candidates, either because they weren’t interested, or because Mack Rhoades was hell-bent against hiring an NBA guy. (Which would make no sense, but whatever.)

John Lucas was never really considered, and Bob Marlin already went to Louisiana-Lafayette (fine, I didn’t like them anyway), which leaves us with three options: Dickey, a young assistant (think Chris Walker of Villanova or Rodney Terry of Texas-Austin) and retaining Penders.

Let’s see how they stack up

-Head coaching experience. This was reported to be a biggie for Rhoades. So it makes even less sense that he’d hire a guy who hasn’t been a head coach since 2001. What is the shelf life on head coachng experience? It can’t be nine years, can it? Big edge: Penders, followed by Dickey, then Terry/Walker.

-Recruiting. This has to have been a big factor. UH doesn’t have the facilities to impress recruits, so that job falls on the coaching staff. Dickey will probably go after Texas recruits, specifically from the Houston area, but unless he can recruit the top-tier of the Houston area talent, who cares? In basketball, New England is at least as big a hotbed of talent as Houston, so what’s the difference between mid-level New England talent and mid-level Houston talent? Nada. Big edge: Proven recruiters Terry/Walker, followed by Dickey with a slight edge over Penders.

-Ability to excite the fan base. An already paltry fan base had clearly turned on Penders. More than anything else, this is the reason he had to go. A ‘name’ coach, like Gillispie, Johnson or Van Gundy could have made a huge difference. An up-and-comer like Terry/Walker wouldn’t have made as big a splash, but at least would have reminded Cougar fans of the Kevin Sumlin hire. Penders would have been a tough sell, but at least he made the tournament this year, so he had earned some good will back. The Dickey hire has been an unmitigated public relations disaster. Let’s just put it this way: I got a “RHOADES/KHATOR RECONSIDER AMIDST PUBLIC OUTRAGE! WE’RE GETTING BCG!!” text message from a buddy yesterday, and even realizing that it was April Fools’ Day, I wasn’t 100% convinced it was a joke. It seemed plausible. That’s how much people are freaking out about the Dickey hire. So, big edge: Terry/Walker, followed by Penders, followed by Dickey.

Pictured: CoogFans.com

-Baggage. GIllispie’s got it, and it may have cost him the UH job. Lucas’s may have cost him a shot at being seriously considered. Penders left his last two jobs (UT-Austin and George Washington) under less-than-ideal circumstances. Terry/Walker haven’t been around long enough to accrue any, as far as I can tell. But at least Dickey doesn’t have any right? Oops, he left Texas Tech after a big academic scandal cost the school nine scholarships. Which is undoubtedly a big part of the reason that, you know, he hasn’t had a head coaching job in nine years. Edge: Terry/Walker, followed by Dickey and Penders in whatever order you want, it doesn’t matter.

Final tally: recruiting, exciting the fan base, and baggage all favor hiring a young assistant like Terry or Walker. The only argument in favor of Dickey seems to be that he has head coaching experience. Head coaching experience, which, in case you’re just tuning in, is nine years old. In the sports world, if you haven’t done something for nine years, you might as well have never done it. It’s no longer relevant. Nine years after Phi Slama Jama, the Cougars missed the NCAA tournament, and didn’t return for the next eighteen. Because by that point, PSJ no longer mattered in any practical sense.

I will show up to the games. I will cheer for the athletes that represent my school. I hope and pray that Dickey proves me wrong. And all of you should, too.

But I’ve been telling people since Penders resigned that there were no bad candidates for the job. Not only did we find one, we hired him.

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ElViento: Everybody and their mother seems pretty positive that Billy Gillispie will be the next head basketball coach at the University of Houston. Athletics Director Mack Rhoades is saying, “Not so fast.”

Is Rhoades keeping things under his hat until the move can be officially announced, or are the fresh-out-of-the-woodwork Cougar faithful jumping the gun, and seeing what they want to see?

I guess a more pertinent question (since it’s the title of this sucker) is: at this point, can Rhoades afford not to hire Gillispie?

Rhoades has a lot of good will built up with the decision makers at UH, as well as the general fan base. It’s not like an unpopular basketball hire will get him run out of town, especially if he gets the money raised for dramatic upgrades to the football and basketball facilities. And by all means, if Rhoades thinks that we’re better off with an individual not named Gillispie running the basketball program, he ought to hire that person.

But let’s be honest. The Houston basketball program is not a one-year fix. There’s certainly talent coming back next year, but the two most productive players (by far) from this year’s team graduate, in Aubrey Coleman and Kelvin Lewis. And this team played .500 basketball until the conference tournament. Regardless of who coaches this team next year, it’s unlikely that he will be able to immediately bring the program to where the fans/critics expect it to be.

Gillispie is the most proven winner at the college level of any of the candidates UH seems to be looking at. And since most of the basketball world thinks it’s a foregone conclusion that he will be the next head man on Cullen Boulevard, you can bet your bottom dollar that if he doesn’t end up getting the job, whoever does will be compared to Gillispie the Ghost Coach. “Gillispie would have done better in recruiting”. “Gillispie would at least have this team competitive with Memphis”, etc.

There are three ways Gillispie could end up not coaching at UH this off-season, and none of them will reflect well on Rhoades:

-Houston hires somebody else, and then Gillispie accepts a job elsewhere. Perception is: Rhoades chose not to offer the job to Gillispie, and what was he thinking???

-Gillispie accepts a job elsewhere first, and then Houston hires somebody else. Perception is: Rhoades didn’t act quickly or decisively enough to bring in Gillispie, or didn’t provide adequate assurances that facilities will be improved quickly. What kind of ship is Rhoades running???

-Gillispie doesn’t accept a head coaching job anywhere, and takes another year off. Perception is: Either Rhoades couldn’t even convince Gillispie that the UH was better than no job at all (see, What kind of ship…) or Rhoades didn’t want Gillispie (see, What was he thinking???)

I’m not saying that Gillispie is unquestionably the man for the job. I think he’d be very successful here for as long as the gig lasted*, but I also would feel very comfortable if we handed the job to Rodney Terry, Tim Floyd (providing the NCAA clears him first) or Chris Walker. Ultimately, I trust Rhoades’ judgment on the hire, and I’ll support whoever he picks. But in spite of its NCAA tournament berth this year, the Houston Cougar basketball program doesn’t exactly have a lot of equity built up in terms of support, and I’m afraid that anybody besides Gillispie at this point will be perceived by an already fickle fan base as nothing more than just that: not Billy Gillispie.

*I’ve seen some complaining that Gillispie would only coach at UH for a few years, and use it as a springboard to another job. It’s possible this is true. But look at UTEP’s or Texas A&M’s records before he got there, and after he left, and tell me we wouldn’t be better off hiring Gillispie, even if it’s a short-term hire.


In other Cougar sports…

-The Houston Cougar baseball team lost its conference-opener to Central Florida on Friday by a score of 7-4, but stormed back over the next two days to earn a series victory. The Coogs grabbed a 7-3 win on Saturday before bringing out the big lumber on Sunday, in a game that was called after six and a half innings due to mercy rule. When the dust settled, the Cougars earned a 20-3 victory.

Houston’s 12-10 overall mark doesn’t jump off the page at you, but Boyd’s has them playing the #10 strength of schedule in the country heading into Sunday’s game, putting them at #52 in the RPI. The Cougars are positioned nicely where, as long as we can put up a respectable mark in Conference USA play, we shouldn’t need to depend on a conference championship to earn a berth into the NCAA post-season.

-The UH softball team followed the baseball team’s lead, dropping its opening game against UTEP this weekend before picking up wins in the next two games. On Sunday, the Coogs fell behind 5-1, before riding a seventh-run sixth inning to a comeback victory. The Cougar record now stands at 18-14 overall, with a 5-4 mark in Conference USA.

That’s all for me for now. Next home game for softball is a doubleheader with Prairie View A&M on April 6th, while baseball hosts UTSA on Tuesday, before playing a series at Rice, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Hope to see you there! Go Coogs!

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SarCoog: The Houston Cougar golf coaching position has been filled. No more will 6th place finishes in CUSA be tolerated from a program that has produced 44 All-Americans, along 16 NCAA team titles and 8 individual titles in its history.

Jonathan Dismuke, who was previously an assistant coach at Ole Miss and defending national champion Texas A&M, has been announced as the new head golf coach at the University of Houston. In addition to being an assistant on the aforementioned Texas A&M team, Dismuke was also a finalist for the Jan Strickland Award while he was at Ole Miss. This award is given annually to the top assistant coach in college golf. Dismuke is a native of Columbus City, Mississippi and was the 1997 Mississippi State Junior Champion, as well as the 1998 Mississippi Junior Player of the Year. During his Career at Auburn, he was an All-SEC golfer and helped lead the Tigers to their 2002 SEC championship.

dismuke-071509Dismuke at Texas A&M

From 2004-05 he played professionally on the Hooters Tour (think the ‘golf minor leagues’) and twice in that time attended the PGA Tour Qualifying School.

In my opinion this looks like exactly the kind of hire new AD Mack Rhoades needed to make. He’s brought in a young, energetic coach who obviously knows the game and is ready to move onto the challenges of being a Division 1 head coach. Dismuke is young, but I think he’s ready for the challenge of restoring the glory to Houston Cougar Golf. He doesn’t need to be Dave Williams, but for the sake of the Cougar golf program he can’t be another Vince Jarrett.

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SarCoog: As reported by My Fox Houston the new Athletic Director at the University of Houston will be Mack Rhoades, who currently holds the same position at the University of Akron. Rhoades, 43, has served as the Akron AD since 2005 and was a major part of the $55 million on-campus football stadium they’ll be opening this fall. He also served for 7 years at UTEP and rose to the rank of senior associate AD before leaving for Akron.

My one sentence take is this: We wanted a fundraiser in our next AD and I believe this guy is one of the best young fundraisers we could get.

More information will be posted as it comes.

Edit: The Official Site now has a write-up on the hire.

ElViento: My one sentence take is this: His name sounds a little too close to “Mack Brown” for my taste.

Okay, just kidding. At first blush, looks like a good hire.

Bobb-O: The Man got a new multi million dollar stadium built at Akron. Love the fundraising abilty. Honestly if you can raise money in Akron frickin’ Ohio then Houston shouldnt be too difficult. Love the hire

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