University of Houston football to face their origins in 2019

As University of Houston attempts to add more Power Five conference teams to their schedule, they and Washington State University have agreed to a home-and-home football series beginning in 2019.

The Coogs will play the Cougs on Sept. 14, 2019 in Houston with the second game slated for Sept. 12, 2020 in Pullman.

The team's shared mascot is more than just a coincidence.

Houston's mascot can trace its origin to Washington State and a coach named John R. Bender.

A sign of the times, John Reinhold "Chief" Bender was a coach of football, basketball and baseball in the early to mid-1900s.

Bender was Washington State's head football and basketball coach at between 1906 and 1908. He posted a 13-1 record in football and his 1907-08 basketball team was 12-3, by far the best in school history to that point.

After coaching at Washington State University, Kansas State and University of Tennessee, Bender served as a physical education instructor at the University of Houston in the 1920s.

Bender is credited as Houston's first football coach as he coached a volunteer football squad of students for the school.

He named them the Cougars after his Washington State team. In turn, the college's newspaper, The Cougar, followed suit when choosing its name. The university's athletics teams and The Cougar remain known by those names today.

The 2019 so-called "Cougar Bowl" will be the first meeting between the teams since the 1988 Aloha Bowl, when Houston fell to Washington State 24-22.

Houston and Washington State have faced each other three times in the past with Washington State holding a 2-1 advantage all-time. Can the Coogs even the score?

WSU had a 32-18 victory in 1959. At their next meeting, the namesake Cougars showed poor respect for their elders when Houston won 21-7 in 1966. Both of those games were in Houston.

The University of Houston shortens their name to the "Coogs," while Washington State call themselves the "Cougs." Both words are pronounced the same, but the difference in spelling seems to be an effort by Houston to differentiate themselves from Washington State.

The chanting of "Whose house? Coogs House!" may need to be adjusted for the 2019 game. Perhaps they could spell it out.

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