Texas Rangers manager Jeff Banister is a product of the University of Houston. Naturally, then, he's pretty excited about the upcoming Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, which will pit the Houston Cougars against the Florida State Seminoles on New Year's Eve.
Banister recently spoke with MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan about his affinity for the Cougars, who went 12-1 this season and won the American Athletic Conference under head coach Tom Herman.
Due to the rigors of the MLB season and the fact that his Rangers made the postseason, Banister wasn't able to pay close attention to the Cougars' entire season - but he did see enough to be impressed with what he saw. As he told Sullivan:
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Got little bits of what was going on and what Coach Herman was able to create in a very short period of time at the University of Houston. Just the overall rise again of Cougar football and kind of bringing it back to the front of the sports page, if you will, and what, I think, an incredible feat by him and his staff and their players, because they get overshadowed in the state of Texas.
To be able to be nationally ranked and go into a bowl, it was fun for me to watch. I wasn't able to catch all of it, but now here at the end, I've paid quite a bit of attention to it.
As for what the University of Houston means to Banister, he laid it out as follows:
Look, one, it's where I met my wife and where I had an opportunity to go play college baseball. A coaching staff and a university that gave me the opportunity to continue the quest of playing the game of baseball.
Some of my greatest friendships were made at the University of Houston, and just the collegiate lifestyle. To say that I was once a baseball player with the old Southwest Conference, to me, I still carry that in my heart proudly. But, yeah, it's an extremely important place for me.
Once December 31 rolls around and the Cougars do battle with the Seminoles, count on Banister to be somewhere watching intently and rooting for his alma mater.