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Charlie Strong wants to play more Texas football games in Houston

Playing games in Houston could help increase Longhorns fandom and benefit recruiting in the top-10 media market.

Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Since the official death of the Southwest Conference in 1995, the Texas Longhorns have played only four games in the city of Houston, including the Texas Bowl disaster against the Arkansas Razorbacks last December.

But if head coach Charlie Strong has his way, that will change in the near future.

"The last time we were here, things just didn't go well," Strong said on Wednesday. "But the thing we would like to do, and I know eventually it will happen, is that we come here on a consistent basis. Maybe we can get a game here, because we have so much support here with our fans. This is such a great alumni base. We go to Dallas now, and we'd just like to come here."

While Strong's comments certainly played well to those assembled at The Touchdown Club of Houston, there are practice considerations that will keep the game from happening for several years, as the Horns don't have an opening in the non-conference schedule until 2018.

So who are the most likely opponents? It's possible that Texas could play a more marquee non-conference game at NRG, but since the Longhorns played two games at that stadium against the Rice Owls since the SWC's demise, adding a local team like the Owls or Houston Cougars probably makes the most sense. With teams like LSU, Ohio State, and USC already on future schedules, playing a beatable opponent is much more ideal than adding another top-tier Power 5 program.

It's quite possible that new Houston head coach Tom Herman could move on to a bigger job in the near future if his on-field success can approximate the remarkable and historic recruiting success he's experiencing at the moment, but beating the Cougars in a head-to-head match up in 2018 could help reduce any recruiting momentum that still exists at that time.

The recruiting talk underscores an important point about the value of a Texas football game in Houston -- with Herman's team now a legitimate player for high-level local prospects and Texas A&M winning seven head-to-head battles over Texas in the greater Houston area in the 2014 and 2015 classes, the recruiting trends there aren't especially positive at the moment.

Throw in the fact that the number of people in Houston identifying as Aggie fans increased by 26% over the last five years while Longhorns fans decreased by 30%, and it's clear that Strong's idea has tremendous merit.

So get those football games in Houston scheduled, Steve Patterson.