Houston cranks it up for the Coogs


The Coogs take on Southern Miss today for the Conference USA championship, but much more is at stake including a likely invitation to a BCS bowl game should they win.

All is quiet inside Robertson Stadium now. But later today, it will be a packed house when the UH football team takes to the field. Some of the fans who will be there got together Thursday night for a big pep rally. And today on campus, you could feel the spirit.

"There's going to be a lot of spirit," said UH student Vivian Luu. "There's going to be a lot of people wearing red. Last week, everyone was wearing red."

At a nearby Academy store, U of H fan favorites -- hats, shirts, jerseys and more -- have all been quick sellers in recent weeks.

"This morning, we had a few customers waiting outside and as soon as we opened the doors, they were in here shopping U of H products," said store manager Robert Ramsoondar. "Anything in red."

UH Alum John Longoria wasn't even out of the parking lot before he put on his new shirt and hat. He's that confident in his team tomorrow.

"Go Coogs, all the way," he said, while giving the U of H hand gesture. "We're going to the BCS!"

Winning against Southern Miss will very likely get Longoria his wish.

Coogs colors flying high

There was a lot of Cougar red here on campus Friday, but you're about to see and hear how that pride is bleeding beyond school grounds. Greg Carter didn't go to U of H, but his money does.

"I have a son that goes to University of Houston Victoria and the University of Houston Downtown," said Carter with the Downtown Body Shop.

So when students asked him to support the university by flying this huge flag above his business, naturally he was on board.

"Well, we put it up at the beginning of the year, forgot to take it down, left it up til the next home game and we kept winning, so now I won't take it down," he said.

Despite its tattered edges, this became Carter's lucky flag.

"When a streak is going you don't stop the streak," said Carter.

The flag is just one of dozens that soars over Houston-area businesses. It's part of a program called "Crank it up Coogs" -- designed to turn Houston red by encouraging businesses to fly U of H flags during home games.

"It's awesome. It feels like your city supports you and it feels like you're part of something big," said UH student Sason Tavakoli.

Students from Pride Patrol and Pride Ambassadors help hoist the flags to promote alumni involvement and school spirit off-campus.

"Demonstrating that U of H has a great alumni base that's willing to support the school," said UH student Viral Bhata.

While the idea has expanded to include more than 30 businesses, it isn't new. Don Chaney started it decades ago, using his own money.

"One day it just popped into my head -- hey, maybe we can ask business owners to fly flags on their flag poles," said Chaney.

As for the weathered flag here at Downtown Body Shop that Carter has grown so attached to, there's a replacement for it.

"They wanted it to look new and I said, 'You want me to take it down? We haven't lost with it yet!'" Carter said.

But the superstitious owner says he's got a solution to raise both flags.

"If they go to a bowl and everything, both of them will fly for the bowl. But we won't take the big one down," he said.

After this year, Carter says he'll retire the old flag and bring it out for special occasions.

Watch today on ABC13

ABC13 is the only place you can see the game other than inside Robertson Stadium. Kickoff is set for 11am. It will be the first time a C-USA title game has ever appeared on ABC and the first time the University of Houston has been on ABC since 1993.

Sumlin to College Station?

Meanwhile, University of Houston Coach Kevin Sumlin is one of the names said to be on the list of people to replace recently fired Texas A&M head coach Mike Sherman. Sherman was let go Thursday after a disappointing 6-6 season. In his four seasons with the Aggies, Sherman was 25-25. He will receive a roughly $5 million buyout to leave. An interim coach should be named sometime today.

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