1999: UH returns to Robertson fulltime, blasts Rice

On this day in 1999, the Houston Cougars opened a renovated John O’Quinn Field at Robertson Stadium with a 28-3 win over Rice. It was the first Bayou Bucket game in the post-SWC era.

“Bringing back this rivalry between Houston and Rice is very important to us,” UH AD Chet Gladchuk said at the time. “It’s important to the fans and to the city of Houston.”

Kim Helton and Ken Hatfield with the Bayou Bucket
Kim Helton and Ken Hatfield with the Bayou Bucket

Thanks to O’Quinn’s $6 million gift, the school removed the old track, dug down to lower the field, and built a ring of seating around it. In addition, new concession stands and restrooms were constructed in the corner of each end zone. A scoreboard was also installed. A year earlier, UH added 18 suites at the top of each grandstand and replaced the press box and elevators.

The stadium’s official capacity was 33,000 but the 31,784 in attendance was called a sellout.

Robertson Stadium checkerboard endzones
Robertson Stadium and those beautiful checkerboard endzones

The Cougars also used the day to unveil a new, Nike-inspired fatter UH logo on the helmets. It was the first change from the “skinny UH” that had been on the helmets since Coach Yeoman’s first season in 1962.

OTD in 1999: Ketric Sanford sporting the new, fatter UH logo

The only thing to go wrong all day: a stadium-wide power failure caused a 20-minute delay at the beginning of the second half.

New DC Dick Bumpas implemented his 4-2-5 defense, resulting in eight forced fumbles and six turnovers for the Owls. An early Rice field goal was the only time they scored all day.

“Any time an option team goes into its first ball game, they’re really not going to be greased up, and we’ve had lots of time to prepare for them,” Bumpas said.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”#dd0000″ class=”” size=”20″] It was the first change from the “skinny UH” that had been on the helmets since Coach Yeoman’s first season in 1962.[/perfectpullquote]

UH only had 203 yards of offense in the game. QB Jason McKinley managed the game well and was 10-of-13 in the air for 107 yards and a TD. That scoring pass went to Orlando Iglesias. Iglesias caught seven of McKinley’s 10 completions for 82 yards.

UH scored all four touchdowns as a result of Rice turnovers.

“I thought we dominated the game defensively and the kicking game was great,” UH coach Kim Helton said. “We played real well offensively. We didn’t turn the ball over and that’s what we want to do against the wishbone. It was a good win, a very good win.”

The 1999 season was the first since 1949 where UH played its entire home schedule on campus. At that time, the stadium was called Houston Public School Stadium.

Robertson Stadium circa 1949

1999 Bayou Bucket box score Rice
1999 Bayou Bucket box score Rice

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Cougar History
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