Clayton Tune deserves more love from UH fans – This late run and his continued QB improvement shouldn’t be dismissed as meaningless

Jhe stadium is more than half empty and sometimes even seems more sleepy. It’s a chilly day, downright cold by Texas standards, and parts of TDECU Stadium never seem to be graced by the sun. University of Houston football players would be right to think that most of the city has walked away from it, having traded those expectations of a Cougar super season for resigned shrugs and more afterglow. ‘Astro. But Clayton Tune keeps throwing it, trying his best, busting his ass to get better and give his guys the best chance to win.

That should mean something. This should mean a lot to UH fans who have seen their school questioned, shunned, and often shunned for so many years. In a world of college football where it’s easier than ever to give up, Clayton Tune is still fighting the good fight, still doing everything he can to make a season that so many UH fans seem to have thrown away like one. lost season a long time ago a little better.

No, it’s not the material on which the books are written. And that doesn’t make for a good topic on a sports talk show. But it should earn Clayton Tune a little more love and respect than it sometimes seems too rarely to get from UH fans. These final weeks of UH’s star-studded regular season — and now-guaranteed bowl game — should be dedicated to celebrating one of the most productive and determined quarterbacks in school history.

It’s time to enjoy Clayton Tune and what it is do rather than dwell on what could or should have been. All those UH fans saying they’ve disconnected this season doesn’t hurt Dana Holgorsen. His big checks are still deposited like clockwork. He will always be on the sidelines of UH’s transition to the Big 12 for future seasons. But by checking out, giving up and not showing up, Houston fans are turning their backs on a guy like Clayton Tune, who only ever tried to win games for the college they profess to love.

It also happens that these deceased UH fans are missing something from a show. For Clayton Tune is playing quarterback at an awfully high level as his long run as a Cougar draws to a close. Even with UH’s defense continuing to disintegrate all around him like a paper airplane caught in a tsunami.

That day, Tune threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to true first-year receiver Matthew Golden with 40 seconds left to save that battered defense (which wasted a 35-26 lead in the fourth quarter) and secure that UH doesn’t lose to a bad Temple team. Instead, the Tune Cougars move to 6-4 with a 43-36 win that makes them eligible for bowling no matter what happens in the final two games of the regular season.

It’s not close to what Clayton Tune expected for his final season in Houston. But it’s still better than being 5-5. It still means something, really, to Tune.

“I just had to kind of block out all the noise and remind myself that I’ve been through too much, worked too hard and seen too much not to come out here and enjoy this past year,” Tune says when I ask. There is a point where his mindset has changed this season. “And make the most of it.

“It was probably before that Memphis game where I was just like, ‘You know what? Shit. Let it all hang out there and play for free and see where the chips fall.

Clayton Tune hasn’t stopped playing since, throwing for 1,823 yards, 22 touchdowns and five interceptions over the last five games. He threw it more than 43 times per game during that streak on average, in many ways turning what could have been an utterly horrible season for UH into something mediocre thanks to the strength of his right arm. and to his pure will.

If you don’t think there’s anything at least a little noble about it, then why exactly are you a college football fan?

It can’t just be the school colors, the fight song, the marching band, and the high-priced trainers you absolutely hate or love, can it? A guy like Clayton Tune has to count. He should count. Plenty.

“Tune is playing at a very high level,” Holgorsen said after Houston 43, Temple 36. the year – hung in there. He believed in himself. He worked hard. He got better.

“And you’re looking at an all-conference type reader.”

Whatever you think of Dana Holgorsen — and UH fans are more than justified in having serious doubts — there’s no doubt that this coach enjoys Clayton Tune. There’s real love there, respect for a quarterback who always comes back for more. It doesn’t matter how bad things seem or how badly he’s poured out.

University of Houston quarterback Clayton Tune managed to throw the ball downfield. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)

Clayton Tune is nowhere near the perfect quarterback. But he is always ready to do more. To take on even more of a burden. It shouldn’t be overlooked that this fifth-year college quarterback who turns 24 in March has managed to improve over the course of this season.

Many quarterbacks in Tune’s position would think they’ve already learned everything they can in college. But Tune dug through UH’s struggles, worked on his presence and pocket awareness, and got better. It bodes well for his footballing future.

It also reinforces how much it all means to him.

“I would say it’s just a competitive goal,” Tune says. “Really, in everything I do, I want to be as good as possible. Especially in a sport like football where it’s a team game and so many people rely on you.

“Not only am I doing it for myself. But I do it for a bunch of other guys, coaches and fans. That’s where it comes in. I just want to be the best player I can be.

Clayton Tune and the will to improve

Tune always turns into a better quarterback, even over 10,000 yards in his Houston career. There are few athletes in any sport in Houston — professional or college — who have been more questioned, criticized and questioned than Clayton Tune in recent years.

Tune handled it all with remarkable grace and a calm nature. I’ve never had him raise his voice off the field or be anything other than polite to callers and people he meets.

“Not only am I doing it for myself. But I do it for a bunch of other guys, coaches and fans. So that’s where it comes in.” – UH quarterback Clayton Tune

Yes, Tune is not Case Keenum. But few college quarterbacks have ever been Case Keenum. It’s probably high time for UH fans to stop dwelling on what Clayton Tune isn’t and embrace what he gave them.

Tune deserves a good crowd and a resounding send-off at Houston’s last home against Tulsa on Nov. 26. If you’re a University of Houston fan who isn’t out of town to visit family this Thanksgiving week and you think you’re proving something to Holgorsen, UH President Renu Khator or anyone else by not showing up at the stadium you are not dealing with reality. And you might as well be rooting for the laundry.

Clayton Tune is a college football story worth pulling off. Even at 6-4. Or 6-5. Maybe even more then.

The hype of those magazine covers and preseason screenings is long gone. Most of the city has moved. There isn’t a single athlete on any of Houston’s TV stations at that post-game press conference. Even on a relatively quiet sporting Saturday when little else happens outside of the Houston Open and the PGA Tour’s annual Bayou City stop, the day’s play is already long over by the time Tune finds Golden for the match winner.

TDECU Stadium is not a ghost town, but you can definitely choose a good seat of your choice. But Clayton Tune still throws it. Still doing his best to help improve UH when he’s gone too.

Because Tune has been on the ears of Matthew Golden, the 19-year-old super-talented receiver who is one of the highest-rated rookies to ever sign with UH, all season. Encouraging Golden. Reassuring gold. Tell Golden not to let the injury that cost him two games deter him. Building the future No. 1 receiver whose best days will come when the quarterback leaves college.

“I talk to Tune on and off the court,” Golden explains. ” He trust me. He’s always – he’s going to move me forward in my game. Just being with him and talking to him is going to help me.

Clayton Tune will not be part of the UH Big 12’s first season of football next fall. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t play a role. He gives something to the guys who will give something back with this end to the season spent in the shadows. Something that goes beyond the extra training that comes with qualifying for a bowling match.

“I’m very proud of how he’s just – with all the criticism that’s been thrown at him from a lot of different people over the year – hung in there. He believed in him. He worked hard. He got better. – UH Coach Dana Holgorsen on Clayton Tune

Nobody says Clayton Tune deserves a medal. College football quarterbacks enjoy many benefits. I always have, I always will. Money in NIL now and otherwise. There are far worse gigs, even the quarterback of a team performing below expectations.

But that doesn’t mean Tune doesn’t deserve a little love and appreciation. A decent crowd. A nice ovation. UH’s fifth-year quarterback is the best kind of college football story in many ways. Because of the way his season was threatening to go off the rails. Because of what he’s doing now with so many fans of his own school who profess they don’t care. Or have checked on the season.

If it’s just the teams that win 10 or more games, if it’s just the players whose seasons have been unbroken journeys to the top, what are you really waiting for anyway? What kind of fan is it?

Clayton Tune has not verified. He always spins that football, always throws it, always makes things a little better and a lot less worse than they could have been. There’s a real honor in that. It is worth watching and noticing.

James C. Tibbs