When's the last time a crowd rushed Robertson Stadium for a Coogs title victory? Yeah, it's been that long.
Anyone want to hear about the pregame activities that went down before the Conference USA championship game? Forget about it, unless you want to hear about traffic tie-ups and a fruitless search for a parking space.
Clearly overwhelmed by the size of the SRO crowd — the largest in Robertson Stadium history — UH officials apparently decided to face the hordes without any wimpy stuff like having cops from HPD, or even UHPD, directing traffic.
The result, for me and lots of others, was finally giving up and parking at the lots on the farthest reaches of the campus. You saved the five-dollar charge but faced a hike long enough that checking out tailgates was out of the question by the time you reached the stadium grounds.
But that was the only downer (well, that and trying to escape after the game. Oh, and trying to buy a hot dog or drink at the overtaxed concession stands) of a night when the Coogs rocked their stadium, on a crisp, clear night, before a raucous crowd, defeating a worthy foe. UH's Kevin Kolb and Vincent Marshall had huge nights as they topped the Southern Miss Golden Eagles 34-20 to win the right to go to the Liberty Bowl.
You'll see the highlights on ESPN and read about them elsewhere, but here are some things that might not make the other wrap-ups:The Coogs' theme song, blasted loudly before the game and the second half, is Rick Ross's infectious "Hustlin'." The only trouble is, while the home team is hopping hard to the repeated line of "Everyday I'm hustlin'," a quick look at the visiting team's sideline shows they're getting pumped by it too.
Southern Miss had a respectable number of fans at the game; they seemed enthusiastic but not obnoxious. Maybe they got there early enough that they didn't have to go on parking-space safari.
The bizarre play of the game came at the end of the first half, with UH trailing 17-13. With only about 13 or so seconds left in the half, no time-outs and the ball at Southern Miss's goal line, UH tried a run play that was stuffed. As the clock ticked inexorably away, Southern Miss players got off the pile with all the speed of the "I've fallen and I can't get up!!" lady, and the refs did nothing. As the half ran out, the crowd booed lustily and even threw some bottles on the field.
The residual effect of this was the crowd continued to jeer everything USM during the ensuing halftime. This included a loud round of boos to the hyper-enthusiastic shout of the USM band announcer, who urged us all to give a warm welcome "to those delightful Dixie Darlings!!" which is apparently some kind of Trent Lott-loving baton team.
The most feeble announcements of the night were the warnings to fans to stay off the field after the game. Feeble because once the thousands of fans had ignored the announcements and jumped the railings, they were directed to the 30-yard line where a flatbed truck had been driven on to the field for the awards ceremony. We're sure if anyone had broken a leg, though, UH would have said "We warned them not to go on the field!" They were shocked, shocked, that the warnings were ignored, but had a ceremony ready to go in case they did.
All in all, it was a terrific night for UH football. They may not be able to beat whatever SEC team they face in the Liberty Bowl, but on this beautiful December evening they were champs, and the heroes of a stadium full of a huge, shouting, high-energy crowd of fans. -- Richard Connelly