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Big 12 Introduction Series: What to Know About Houston as Cougars Exit AAC for Big 12

Get to know new Big 12 member, Houston.



Jackson Lavarnway/PFB

Houston’s imminent exit from the AAC to the ranks of the Big 12 will become official on July 1, 2023, giving the Big 12 new membership (Houston, Cincy, UCF and BYU) and giving UH a step up in class from a league outside the power structure.

As the move gets closer to reality, this week we’re doing an intro series to each of the new members — and Houston is up first. Given its proximity to the Big 12 map, it’s a well-known program to most, but we’re here to get ya up to speed on everything you need to know (and probably things you don’t need to know) to familiarize yourself with a new foe.

So let’s dive in.

So, where is Houston?

Houston is in Houston, Texas.

How far is that from Stillwater, America?

Google Maps says Houston and Stillwater are separated by roughly 510 miles — which is just under an 8-hour drive (if you don’t stop).

What are Houston’s football facilities like?

John O’Quinn Field at TDECU Stadium is Houston’s official football stadium located on Houston’s campus. The total base project cost was roughly $125 million, per Houston Athletics. The stadium is roughly a decade old after the previous stadium was demolished.

How many people does the stadium seat?

The stadium seats 40,000 but was designed for a future capacity of 60,000 seats.

Who is their coach?

Dana Holgorsen is Houston’s football coach. The former OSU offensive coordinator has been in charge of the Cougars program since 2019, where he has amassed a 27-20 overall record.

What about their basketball arena? How many does it seat and in what shape is it in?

Houston plays its games in the Fertitta Center, named after billionaire Tilman Fertitta, owner of the Houston Rockets. Opened in late 2018, the Fertitta Center — which cost an estimated $60,000,000 (!) — seats just over 7,000.

Who is their coach on the hardwood?

Former OU coach Kelvin Sampson is Houston’s coach and his son, Kellen, is the program’s coach-in-waiting. Kelvin is 232-74 since taking over the program in 2014.

Have they been competitive in football and basketball of late?

They have been! The football team went 8-5 this past season after a 12-2 campaign the year prior. (They went 7-13 in the first two seasons under Dana.)

The basketball team under Sampson has been stellar. They made the Final Four in 2021, advanced to the Elite Eight in 2022 and made it to the Sweet 16 earlier this year. Houston also took down the AAC regular season title in 2019, 2020, 2022 and 2023.

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