A $17 Million Loss for Conference USA
All season long, the Houston Cougars appeared to be closing in on their first ever appearance in the Bowl Championship Series. Cougars Quarterback Case Keenum and his team had played perfect football all season long, resulting in a 12-0 record and home field advantage in the Conference USA Championship game. A win over Southern Miss would clinch a BCS bowl game for Houston (most likely the Sugar Bowl) and a huge payday for the conference. Instead, the Golden Eagles dominated Keenum and destroyed their BCS hopes with a 49-28 thrashing.
The loss was a financial killer not only for Houston but also for C-USA. Not only would UH benefit from the $17 million BCS reward, but every school in C-USA would also receive nearly $1 million each as the conference distributed the money. Locally, UTEP was was hoping for a Houston win to help financially boost a struggling athletic department. Instead, C-USA will send no teams to the BCS, and Houston will go from the prestigious Sugar Bowl against Michigan to the not-so-special Ticket City Bowl against Penn State. That's the huge price they paid for not winning their biggest game in program history.
Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin has been a hot coaching candidate for both the UCLA and Texas A&M vacancies. UCLA has already removed Sumlin from their list of potential replacements, and it remains to be seen if A&M will invest in the Houston head coach. The loss also removes Keenum from any chances of winning the Heisman Trophy, although Keenum was a longshot anyway.