The Houston Cougars will return to their home city this weekend for their home opener, facing crosstown rival Rice, whose team was also temporarily displaced by Hurricane Harvey. Saturday’s game at TDECU Stadium will carry lots of emotion, and the Cougars have decided to pay tribute to the city by having their players wear “Houston” nameplates instead of their last names on the back of their jerseys.
Junior safety Garrett Davis, a team captain, told the Houston Chronicle that players were informed of the change on Tuesday, and they were on board:
“It’s pretty cool,” Davis said. “It will keep the motto of playing for the city. It won’t necessarily be a game about us.
“We’ll be able to go out and fight for the city, fight for the people whose houses were damaged and aren’t able to do the things we are able to do.”
In case you were wondering, the school apparently did not have to seek NCAA permission to make the changes to its jerseys. The Cougars last paid such tribute in 2012, when each player wore “Hayden” on the back of their jerseys to honor cornerback D.J. Hayden. Hayden had suffered from a heart injury that was nearly fatal.
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Meanwhile, Houston basketball coach Kelvin Sampson rallied hundreds of college athletics programs to donate all sorts of gear to victims of the hurricane. While the devastation caused by Harvey will last a while, it’s great to see the university doing what they can to help the city repair itself.