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Conference Realignment

Future Rivals? Divisions? We’re Talking The Houston Cougars With

We sat down with Ryan Monceaux of to get to know the Cougars and their expectations for the Big 12.



ead coach Dana Holgorsen of the Houston Cougars looks to the scoreboard - Getty Images - Tim Warner
Getty Images - Tim Warner

Who could be a potential rival for the Cougars as they come into the Big 12? What about divisions? What could those look like? And what does the move to the Big 12 mean for the Houston fans? For those answers, keep reading. We’ve got that and more as we get to know Houston with

A huge thank you to Ryan Monceaux with for taking the time to speak with us. If you want to get to know the Cougars, there is no better place to check out than Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter too at @gocoogs1.

What was your initial reaction to hearing that Houston will join the Big 12?

Honestly, I was happiest for the fans that have been around a lot longer than me. I never experienced the Southwest Conference, 5 Final Fours, the Veer and the Run and Shoot, or 16 national titles in golf. For decades, UH fans expected to be in the top 20 in football and basketball. And then, it all went away. 

Those fans have been in the desert for most of the last 35 years and have never given up. We lost a great Cougar earlier this year – he’s still in my phone as DRAKE – and he was one of my favorites. Drake sat through a *ton* of bad basketball and a *ton* of bad football hoping to get back to the Final Four or to a big-time conference.

He passed away in March and missing the Final Four by just a few days. And now, the Big 12 by less than 6 months. So I guess my reaction is that I wish I could have experienced it with him, too.

What do you think the biggest adjustment will be for the program?

Football recruiting. The depth and the lines have to get better. With transfer rules, class size rules, and the portal, who knows how that will come together.

How competitive do you expect the Cougars to be within those first couple of years?

I think it would be foolish to expect to come in and immediately compete for football titles. But there will be definitely be an opportunity when OU leaves for someone to step up and no one school seems insurmountable.

Where do you think the new Big 12 sits among the power five conferences?

Basketball-wise, it’s #1. Without a doubt. 

In football, it could be third. No one cares about the Pac-12 and the ACC lives off of Clemson. Get past them in the ACC, and you’re not left with much. No one is paying attention to Duke, Boston College, Pitt, Virginia, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, NC State, and Syracuse. They are indistinguishable from each other.

There’s an opening for the Big 12, but the league’s teams need to step up. 

What would be your preferred divisions? Who would you want to be with and why?

I think most UH fans would like to see the four Texas schools stay together but that might not happen. If the schedule could be set where every team in the other division gets a game in Texas every season, it’s viable. 

I also think you need to have geography-based divisions and division names. No one knows who is in the Coastal and who is in the Atlantic in the ACC. No one knew who were the Legends and who were the Leaders in the Big Ten. 

So it probably has to be northern and southern.

Up There:  BYU, Cincinnati, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, West Virginia 

Down Here:  Baylor, Central Florida, Houston, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas Tech

If you had to pick one Big 12 member you could see being a future rival, who is it and why?

The most natural ‘rival’ would be Texas Tech; two big state schools. But talking to guys that played in the SWC and hearing from members of the community, there’s a surprising bit of hate for Baylor.

The Bears whipped UH in the Final Four and are deserving national champs – and those hoops games will be a fun rivalry in itself – but a lot of folks feel they got the Big 12 spot that UH deserved.

As your head coach knows, the Big 12 is known for its offenses. Tell us a little bit about the Cougars offensive scheme has evolved under Holgorsen, and how it could give the conference’s defenses problems?

Well, the Houston offense hasn’t given very many people problems to this point. And there’s no clearcut offensive identity. To this point in Dana’s tenure, it’s been the ‘throw it against the wall and see what sticks’ offense.

I wish I had a better answer.

How would you grade coach Holgorsen’s tenure in Houston so far, and will his familiarity with the conference give the Coogs an advantage in the transition?

The kindest you could be about his tenure is a D. He’s 8-14 with wins over Texas Southern, UNT, Tulsa, UConn, Tulane, Navy, USF, and Rice. A 6-6 Tulane is his best win. 

Dana is 0-6 against “New Big 12” teams (0-7 if you include OU).

Lastly, What would you like Big 12 fans to know about Houston coming in?

UH is a different place than the last time it shared a conference with Baylor and Tech. It’s a different place than when TCU was in C-USA. The on-campus environment is a helluva lot better than the Astrodome was.

And UH has finally decided to spend the money to compete. Whether that translates or not (cough UT) I don’t know. But the commitment is there.