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Houston celebrates winning 2015 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta, GA.

One of our main principles here at PFK has always been this… Create and maintain a sports culture on our campus at the University of Houston. That way, players know the students have their back on the field; in return students enjoy the great play from athletes. But in the grand scheme of things, that won’t be enough to win games all of the time. Or win the respect from voters of the Associated Press/Coaches Poll that vote on top 25 teams every week. That takes a long list of things. Here’s what the No. 8 team in college football needs to do to stay there. Year after year…

8. Branding

Not to purposefully mention the competition, but what automatically comes to mind when you see a longhorn logo? Come on… you’ve got it, yes… the University of Texas. Now of course it helps that no other D1 athletic program in the nation shares the same mascot like us (Washington State, College of Charleston, and BYU Cougars). As a school, we must do a better job creating a brand reputation off the field.

7. Alumni success in NFL

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Former UH Quarterback Case Keenum playing for St. Louis Rams. 

One thing every school that is continuously in the top 10 and even in the overall top 25 is that they put players in the league. Not only do those players from those programs get drafted but they go onto having long and successful NFL careers. Schools like Alabama, LSU, Oregon, and Ohio State consistently get players to the draft. That has helped build credibility and their branding over the years. This entices future recruits to want to come to your program.

6. Recruiting

Ed Oliver

Having success from former players in your program at the next level will take hard work and determination. But having a load of 5-star recruits makes the process of development a lot easier. Getting these players to commit to UH will be vital in winning games and championships. Tom Herman has done an admiral job in his first year though, racking up a  5-star recruit in Defensive Tackle Ed Oliver out of Houston. Also, two 4-star recruits recently (D’Eriq King and Na’Ty Rodgers).

5. Difficulty of schedule

Nobody will respect a cupcake schedule. Especially the College Football Playoff Committee. If you want your program to be in those top 4 slots then you better play somebody and beat them! Scheduling isn’t always as black and white as coaches calling coaches to schedule games. Money and location have a say-so in scheduling as well. But with Houston’s first game of the season next year being against the 5th ranked Oklahoma Sooners, Tom Herman and Houston are stepping in the right direction.

4. #HTOWNTAKEOVER must TAKEOVER Texas 

I want to see Houston schedule Texas A&M, UT, Baylor, and TCU. Not all at once of course, but every once and awhile each one of these programs need to be on our schedule. Or establish a real rivalry by picking one to play year after year. Houston has been the little brother school to these programs for years now. It’s time to play them and see who’s really running the state of Texas.

3. Get into the Big 12 Conference

The University of Oklahoma President David Boren was quoted saying, “The Big 12 is disadvantaged when compared to the other conferences in three ways. We do not have at least twelve members, we do not have a conference network, and we do not have a championship game.” With our current success and location to other teams in the Big 12, getting into this conference could allow an even higher level of competition for Houston to prove itself against.

2. Go Undefeated

If you don’t hurt yourself with losses, your ranking won’t hurt itself either. With the combination of a tough schedule and winning all your games gives the perfect equation for a top 10 team.

1. KEEP TOM HERMAN FOREVER

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University of Houston Head Coach Tom Herman. 

If nothing else, if absolutely everything else on this list doesn’t get completed it’s okay. But the number 1 thing that sets programs back from becoming a top tier program in football is losing their respective coach to the NFL or to another top tier higher paying coaching job. I don’t know what it’s going to take to keep Tom Herman in H-Town but please believe that this is the next great coach that college football has to offer…

Credits: SB Nation (For the quote), ESPN, Bleacher Report, and UH Football Twitter Page ( @UHCougarFB ) (For the photos).

-Terrence Whaley