On Friday the University of Houston athletics department officially released the 2012 football schedule. With the exception of a road game against SMU, it appears as if all games will be played on Saturdays this fall:
Sat Sept 01: Texas State, Robertson Stadium
Sat Sept 08: Louisiana Tech, Robertson Stadium
Sat Sept 15: at UCLA, Rose Bowl, Pasadena CA
Sat Sept 22: bye
Sat Sept 29: at Rice, Reliant Stadium
Sat Oct 06: North Texas, Robertson Stadium
Sat Oct 13: Alabama - Birmingham, Robertson Stadium
Thu Oct 18: at SMU, Ford Stadium, Dallas TX
Sat Oct 27: Texas - El Paso, Robertson Stadium
Sat Nov 03: at East Carolina, Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville NC
Sat Nov 10: Tulsa, Robertson Stadium
Sat Nov 17: at Marshall, Edwards Stadium, Huntington WV
Sat Nov 24: Tulane, Robertson Stadium
If it looks a lot like last year's schedule, it's because it is. Texas State (in its first year as a member of the Football Bowl Subdivision) replaces Georgia State; every other opponent is the same as last year with the venue (home vs. away) reversed. All in all, it looks like a very favorable schedule for the Coogs, with eight games in the city of Houston: seven at Robertson Stadium and another at Reliant against Rice (the Coogs and Owls will also meet there in 2013). There are no back-to-back road games, and there's only one true road game against a Conference USA western division rival (SMU).
That being said, I'm not expecting another 12-0 regular season record. So many talented seniors from last year's team are gone (Case Keenum, Patrick Edwards, Tyron Carrier, Bryce Beall, Sammy Brown and Marcus McGraw, just to name a few) and the coaching staff, from new head coach Tony Levine on down, is brand new. Although Levine won't admit as such, 2012 is going to be something of a rebuilding year for the Coogs. Then there's the schedule itself: UCLA on the road is a likely loss, SMU and ECU on the road won't be easy either, and LA Tech, Tulsa and UTEP will be particularly dangerous visiting teams
Still, I'd like to believe that there's enough talent still on the team and enough softness in the schedule that another winning record is likely and another C-USA West title is within the realm of possibility. Hopefully I'll get a better handle on the Coogs' prospects for 2012 when I write my usual season preview in August, after everyone has enrolled and I've had a chance to watch some fall practices.
Speaking of Case Keenum, congratulations to him for signing with the Houston Texas as an undrafted free agent. Several other key players from last year's squad have signed with NFL teams as well. I wish them all the best!