No. 12: Houston

I remember when Houston was a national story in football. It was in 1984 when the Cougars were facing the Doug Flutie led Boston College Eagles in the Cotton Bowl. That was the last time BC was a national story as well.

Be quiet. I know you are going to say, what about last season. The Cougars went 13-1. They won the American Athletic Conference championship. They beat Florida State in the Peach Bowl. They had one of the hottest coaches in the country in Tom Herman. They have a Heisman contending QB returning in Greg Ward Jr .[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here. [/membership] [membership]

All of that is true. But does the country treat Houston with the respect it wants and feels it deserves. Watch what happens with Big 12 expansion. The Cougars could be lame duck members of the AAC by their opener against Oklahoma, which is what they want. That will make them big time. or bigger time.

But what happens if the Big 12 says we don't want another Texas team? What happens if Oklahoma, which has national championship visions of its own, trounces the Cougars? How far does the Houston factor fade if those things happen?

No matter what happens in the next few weeks, Houston looks like it is going to win a lot of games this season. But here's the Catch 22 situation. If Houston doesn't get into the Big 12 and does win a lot of games, Herman is likely going to take the first Power 5 conference offer that comes his way. And Houston will be...well it will be Houston again--a program that always seems to be striving to reach the next level and never quite makes it.

Stay tuned.

 The countdown thus far: No. 16 Pepper Hamilton (Baylor), No. 15 Georgia, No. 14Michigan State , No. 13 Miami [/membership]