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No one stepped up in class like the University of Houston

Berry Tramel: Bill Yeoman's 1976 Cougars squad set the standard that TCU and West Virginia can follow as the enter a new conference.
by Berry Tramel Published: July 10, 2012

Houston didn't stop at 1976. The Cougars also won the SWC in 1978 and 1979. Three titles in their first four years in the league.

That's better than Miami in its first four years in the Big East. Better than Virginia Tech's first four years in the ACC.

Doesn't the Houston story sound like West Virginia and TCU? An iconic coach at TCU (Gary Patterson). An offensive mastermind at West Virginia (Dana Holgorsen). Quality quarterbacks (WVU's Geno Smith, TCU's Casey Paschall). Been playing big games (TCU won the Rose Bowl 18 months ago; West Virginia won the Orange Bowl six months ago).

Sure, there are some questions about consistency. The Big 12 is a big step up from the Big East and the Mountain West. There is a curiosity on the part of the Frogs and the Mountaineers.

“Does our plan need to be tweaked?” asked Patterson. “Because of the size of defensive tackles, do we have to get bigger starting centers and guards? What is it we have to have to be better and compete on a weekly basis?

“I don't think we're going to know that until we get into it on a day-to-day basis. You make notes as you go. We're learning as we move through it all.”

But likewise, the Southwest Conference was a big step up from Houston's independent schedule. And the Cougars met the challenge. In fact, the step up works in the newcomers' favor.

“Our kids were very anxious to get ready,” Yeoman said. “As were our supporters. We were all lathered up.”

TCU and West Virginia will be all lathered up, too.

You've been warned, Big 12 veterans, by one of college football's best.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at

by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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