Special Thanks to Nathan Roland on his laborious research on these UH Traditions. If there are any changes, deletions or additions, please forward those to Assistant Athletics Director for Communications David Bassity at email@example.com
Fight Songs -While UH would not be considered a singing campus like the University of California, Berkeley or Yale University, a few hymns have been written for the U and enjoyed by the UH community.
Cougar Fight Song
The most popular version is by former students Forest Fountain (lyrics) & Marion Ford (music). It is the Cougar Fight Song currently played by the band at all contests and events. A local musician, Ed Gerlach, and his orchestra popularized the current version of the Cougar Fight Song in the 1950's.
However, the school also had another Cougar Fight Song composed by John Perry (a UH accounting student who contracted polio during his collegiate days). This, the original Cougar Fight Song, was introduced during what is considered the first "big-time" football game for the University of Houston: a 1949 contest with then national powerhouse College of William & Mary.
Likewise, legendary band director Dr. William C. Moffit also contributed songs which have become de facto UH Fight Songs: Eat 'Em Up & Touchdown.
Eat 'Em Up
This song originated with Dr. William C. (Bill) Moffit. However, a dispute exists as to whether he composed this song while UH Director of Bands or in his previous stint as Associate Director of Bands at Michigan State University. Regardless, Eat 'Em Up is the second most popular UH song to date, and is now played by virtually all college & high school bands around the country.
Traditionally, the stand cheer has gone: Eat 'Em Up! Eat 'Em Up! Rah! Rah! Rah! Not surprisingly, some fans erroneously chanted Raw! Raw! Raw! at the end of the cheer. However, in 2000, the cheer was changed to Eat 'Em Up! Eat 'Em Up! Go Coogs Go! At a minimum, this should be less confusing for everyone.
The song Touchdown is another Dr. Moffit original that is now played around the country by high school & college bands. It is played following a successful extra point after the Coogs score a touchdown.
The official University of Houston Alma Mater was the culmination of an assignment by Associate Professor of Music, Bruce Spencer King. He assigned his harmony class the task of composing a song that was suitable to become the University's Alma Mater. The 18-year old Irwin T. Andrews wrote a violin melody, which was then expanded by Prof. King into a four-part harmony. The entire class hammered out the lyrics while King arranged the chorus. After an interminable amount of begging, the song was sung at the 1942 commencement. The song has been a part of the University lore from that day on.
The Olympic Fanfare (Trumpets)
During the Phi Slama Jama's 1982-1983 season, Greg Talford directed the Cougar Brass to play the Olympic Trumpet Fanfare to signify a Cougar victory. In 1984, Robert Mayes directed the Olympic Trumpet Fanfare at the Los Angeles Summer Games (which served as the "coronation" of our very own track & field alumnus, Carl Lewis). Now, this is considered to be the de facto Houston Victory song, and is played after each victory by the Coogs.
Traditionally, bands have a song that they use as their signature march. For example, Texas Tech University and the University of Texas-Austin both use March Grandioso (originally used by Texas Tech). From 1969 until 2001, at UH, this song was the musical score from the 1961 movie, El Cid starring Charlton Heston. When UH partisans heard the song, whether at the football stadium or at a parade, they knew that the Spirit of Houston was on the way. The Barbarian Horde was used for only two seasons. It is no longer used. Many college bands no longer use signature marches on the way to the stadium, opting instead for percussion cadences.
CHEERS -Thanks to our Band, Bleacher Creatures & Spirit Groups, we have quite a repertoire of cheers. These are the most prominent of those cheers.
The C-O-U-G-A-R-S cheer that the band does has it's own story...
This is another mixed spell-out cheer. However, this one was initiated by the Bleacher Creatures. C-C-C-O-U! G-G-G-A-R! C-O-U! G-A-R! Go Cougars!
This is just a fun cheer that was popularized by the student section in the 1970s. Hail Houston! Hail YES! Hail Cougars! HELL YES! Hail (opponent). HELL NO! (This is repeated ad nauseum).
When Kaddie Platt's volleyball squad plays this cheer rings out loudly. It began during the 1994 season when the team featured Heidi Sticksel and her teammates. This is the pre-eminent UH Volleyball Cheer. When ever the team scores a point (yes, each and every single point during the match), the fans yell! POINT HOUSTON!
This cheer originally began with the drum major yelling "Our Cheer" and the band responding with C-O-U-G-A-R-S COUGARS! COUGARS! COUGARS! Since then, it was shortened into Archie, but has since been returned to our cheer. This is used by the band at the end of every practice and performance.
Here is a smattering of other traditions at UH.
With the popularity of the NBA slam dunk competition on the rise, the Houston basketball fans decided to make a statement that the best dunks occurred in Hofheinz Pavilion. So, during the infamous (and now banned) pre-game practice/dunk contests that used to take place before the actual games in the Phi Slama Jama period, fans began scoring all Cougar dunks. As you would imagine, all Cougar dunks are perfect 10s. Even now, you may see a few scorecards break out after a Cougar dunk.
During the last minute of a UH basketball contest in Hofheinz Pavilion, the fans began breaking out their keys (house keys, car keys, locker keys, etc.) and jingling them back and forth. This is the fans way of telling the team to bring home the victory & the opposing team's bus driver to go ahead and start the bus.
This is the traditional way that the students, fans, & the Cougar Brass greet opposing teams as their starting lineups and coaches are announced. On the way into the Pavilion, UH partisan grabbed a copy of the Daily Cougar... opened it and read it while the opposition is announced. After each name was called, they would yell in unison: Who's He? Once it was time for the home team to be announced the papers were folded down and torn into pieces. Upon the last name called, the pieces were launched into the air & rained down like confetti. Unfortunately, this tradition has gone on hiatus.
Head Football Coach Jack Pardee, Heisman Trophy Winning Quarterback Andre Ware and former Quarterback David Dacus felt the University lacked a symbol for the football team. An oil field siren was chosen to represent the University's ties to the petroleum industry and the "air-raid" style of offense at the time. A group of students, all members of Sigma Chi Fraternity, manned a manual crank siren that sounded after each score. In the summer of 1991, David Carl Blazek, a staunch supporter of the University and member of Sigma Chi Fraternity, passed away. His death was a blow to the original men who ran the siren. They named the siren "The Blaze" in honor of their fallen brother. In the of Fall 1991, through the efforts of the "H" Association, the Taxi Squad, Pleas Doyle and the Hruska Family, the purchase of a new siren was complete. However, the siren did not arrive until the day before Homecoming. To this day, every time that The Blaze is sounded, the University hears the voice of David Carl Blazek.
While the Run 'n Shoot/Multiple Adjusting Passing System Offenses were in use during the Pardee & Jenkins years, no mascot did more pushups than Shasta. During the infamous 95-21 victory against SMU, Shasta did 800 pushups. There is controversy on whether or not the tradition was started at UH. Some claim that it was started at a service academy. Nevertheless, it is a cherished rite at UH Football Games.
Running the Brass
Polka dittys are no longer used. The fight song, eat em up, the horse and other traditional UH songs are used.
Helmet Buggy/Buggy Beauties
In the early 1970s, a new spirit addition was introduced to the University of Houston. A golf cart was retrofitted with a fiberglass football helmet that was painted scarlet and white with the UH logo.
After each UH touchdown, the buggy would be driven around the stadium celebrating the event. In addition, four female students chosen by the administrative and coaching staffs would ride on the buggy and wave to the fans during the celebration. The booster group for the UH football program was called the “Taxi Squad” and was responsible for the fund raising to support the buggy. This tradition continued as defined until mid-1980. At that time the Taxi Squad leadership began to look for sponsorship of the buggy in order to pay for repairs and maintenance. Sharon and Murray Stinson offered to take on full responsibility for the buggy, including all maintenance as well as selection of Buggy Beauties.
Cougar Hand Sign
In Texas, all of the major universities have adopted a hand sign which signifies to all other Texans where your loyalties lie. The Cougar Hand Sign is no different. Although the original hand sign was the "V" for Victory until 1965, events conspired and a new hand sign was adopted. The inaugural football game between University of Houston and University of Texas during the 1953 campaign witnessed the birth of a blood rivalry between the state's two largest universities at that time. However, it also led to the adoption of another Cougar Hand Sign. During her transport from Houston to Austin, one of the fingers on Shasta's paw was severed when the cage door was closed. As the University of Texas partisans and players caught wind of the accident, they mimicked the animal by bending their thumb over the ring finger against their palm. This gesture implied that the Cougars were invalids. The Cougars would go on to lose the game 28-7.
The cougar faithful, still mindful of the stinging defeat suffered 15 years earlier, never forgot the taunting that they received. The next time the two teams faced off (1968... a whole 15 years later), UH tied UT 20-20. At that point, the students thought there might be a bit of magic in that sign, and the hand sign was adopted replacing the "V".
In 1976, the Cougars first football season in the Southwest Conference, the Coogs & Horns met for the third time ever. The Coogs put a beating on the Longhorns that they have yet to forget 30-0 (a.k.a.the "Dad's Day Massacre") in front of the largest crowd to assemble in Memorial Stadium at that time. That victory ended the Longhorns famed winning streak, and the embarrassment also signaled the end of legendary UT Coach Darryl K. Royal's career. After that victory, the Cougar Hand Sign became firmly entrenched.
*Important Note: Only one hand is to be held aloft when making the Cougar Hand Sign.
Shasta & Sasha
The mascot of the University has been a Cougar since 1927. The mascot was selected by our then Professor John W. Bender. Coach Bender joined the faculty after having served as the Head Football Coach at Washington State University. During his tenure at Washington State, he became fond of the WSU mascot (a cougar). When he arrived here, the students were looking for a name for the student newspapers (the school's first extracurricular activity). He suggested that they call the newspaper the Cougar because of the grace, power and pride that the Cougar embodies. The name was unanimously agreed upon. From that time on all University of Houston student groups and activities have been associated with Cougars. We may well be the only university in the USA to name its athletic teams after the student newpaper.
Shasta is the name of the very first cougar that ever represented the University of Houston. The name was chosen from the Alpha Phi Omega's "Name the Mascot" competition in the Daily Cougar. The winning entry was from then student Joe Randol. His submission was as follows:
"Shasta (She has to). Shasta have a cage, Shasta have a keeper, Shasta have a winning ball club, Shasta have the best."
The first runner-up was Ragouc (cougar spelled backwards), and the 2nd runner-up was Spiritana.
Originally a live cougar, Shasta I was purchased by Alpha Phi Omega (APO) in 1947 from a wild animal rancher, Manuel King. The cougar, a 75-pound, 15-month old Mexican puma became entrenched in campus lore on Oct. 17, 1947 when it made its way from Brownsville, Texas to a small airport in Houston. Shasta served as the "Grand Marshall" at the University's homecoming celebration, which began that day. The five Shastas all had their individual legacies.
1. Shasta I held the post the longest, from 1947 to 1962, when she was retired.
2. Shasta II's reign was the shortest because of an unruly attitude and was the first cougar to reside in Shasta's Den, a small cage located in the southeast corner of Lynn Eusan Park. She served from 1962-1965.
3. Shasta III, a.k.a. "The Lady" served from 1965-1977. Incidentally, she may have been the most famous. "The Lady" was featured in commercial spots for American Motors before illnesses forced her retirement.
4. Shasta IV, a.k.a. "Baby Shasta" claimed the post when she was just 11 weeks old. However, when "Baby" grew up, the Cougar Guard could not control her. So, "Baby Shasta" retired in 1980 at the ripe old age of three.
5. Shasta V, the final live cougar, was mascot for nine years before she was put to sleep because of kidney failure.
· Shasta I & Shasta II resided at the Herman Park Zoo.
· Shasta's III-V lived on the University's Main Campus in the Cougar Den which was located at the southwestern edge of Lynn Eusan Park.
However, after the death of Shasta V in 1989, the university has not purchased another live cougar. There has been continuous debate & various attempts to resume the tradition, but none of the attempts has proven succesful. So, the debates rage on.
Today, Shasta has morphed into a costumed student, but still maintains the spirit of the Coogs. Shasta has been joined by a new "female" costumed mascot named Sasha. Many of the alumni were perplexed by this as Shasta was also female....
In recent years, another Cougar has been featured in the University's "Learning. Leading." campaign by the McCann Agency. This cougar is named Tigger. Tigger is a professional animal model who neither belongs to the University nor lives on campus.
The Frontiersmen were established in 1948 as a result of a concentrated effort to promote more school spirit within the student body. The primary purpose was to support the University of Houston in any and all endeavors. This included support for the athletic department, Frontier Fiesta and academic success of the University. The original Frontiersmen were among the most dedicated and loyal students at the time. After many years of Frontiersmen history and service to the University, the Frontiersmen tradition lay dormant for quite some time. This tradition was officially revived in 1992.
In the spring of 1993, the first Wranglers were installed into the Order and dusters were added to the attire. Until then, the Frontiersmen wore the attire similar to the original members. In the fall of 1994, the Frontiersmen began running the UH Flag across the field after each score at football games. In 1996, the Frontiersmen displayed the Texas Flag as well as the University of Houston flag at football games as a form of respect and obligation as the lone representative of the State of Texas in the newly formed Conference USA. The tradition has continued although other Texas Universities have joined Conference USA in recent years.
The official colors of the University of Houston are Scarlet Red and Albino White. The colors were from Sam Houston's ancestor, Sir Hugh, and were adopted by UH at the same time the Seal was adopted. Scarlet Red symbolizes two things. The first symbol is that blood is the life source of the soul. The second represents Sir Hugh and how his timely actions saved a bloodline of royalty. The Scarlet Red symbolizes courage and perseverance. The Albino White symbolizes the purity and perfections of a heart, mind and soul that is dedicated to serve faithfully. The Albino White symbolizes the act of helping others and compassion.