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Super Bowl Memories

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                For the second time in his two NFL seasons, Luke Willson will play in the final game on the NFL schedule when he takes the field with the Seattle Seahawks to face the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Arizona.

                Willson is one of only seven Rice Owls who have reached the Super Bowl and on Saturday he becomes the fifth of those seven to play in multiple games.  Three of the other four Owls to play in more than one Super Bowl (Darryl Grant, Earl Cooper and Larry Izzo) have come out on the winning side and Willson hopes to add an 11th Super Bowl ring to the Owls' all-time collection.

                Among  the television audience of billions on Sunday will be the six previous Owls who have first-hand knowledge of what it feels like to play on Super Sunday.  Six men who have experienced the wide range of emotions, the expectations and the aftermath of playing in the country's signature annual sporting spectacle and annually find their own experiences contrasted with those of each new group of participants.

                In the days leading up to Super Bowl XLIX, four of those six, Rodrigo Barnes, Earl Cooper, Darryl Grant and Courtney Hall shared some thoughts on their experiences in the Super Bowl:  

R BLOG:  What comes to mind when asked about being in a Super Bowl?

RODRIGO BARNES-OAKLAND RAIDERS SUPER BOWL XI CHAMPIONS

It's amazing how big it has become.  It's become a global event now and with the internet, there are so many more kinds of coverage.  The Super Bowl was more relaxed than the AFC Championship game, because going into that game (AFC title game vs. Pittsburgh), we hadn't won anything yet.  We played each week in the playoffs, it was a home game and Oakland had lost the last five AFC Championship games. But after we won, we had two weeks to get ready for the Super Bowl.  The Raiders were a pretty laid back group with a lot of veterans who had been around for a while.  They took everything in stride and never let it be a problem. 

EARL COOPER-SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS SUPER BOWL XVI & XIX CHAMPIONS

Everything was much simpler then.   ESPN was just starting out, and while it seemed like a lot of media, it was nothing like it is now.  

DARRYL GRANT-WASHINGTON REDSKINS SUPER BOWL XVII & XXII CHAMPIONS, XVIII PARTICIPANT

My first year, no one expected us to beat Dallas.  Everything was set up for the Cowboys to be the team there.  They came to Washington all packed and ready to move on to California to get ready for the game.   When we first got out there (to Pasadena),  our gear hadn't arrived and we worked out in blue and gray sweats.  Everything was first class that first year, but the next year (in Tampa) it was like someone was trying to save money.  We stayed at a hotel by the highway that was noisy and it took four hours to get room service.  Then when they moved us to a different hotel for game night, it was just to a motor lodge about two miles away.  All the fans figured out where we were and moved the tailgate party to right outside our rooms.  When we were going back for the third time, the veterans got together with Coach (Joe) Gibbs and we made sure that things we be different than they were (in Tampa).  

COURTNEY HALL-SAN DIEGO CHARGERS SUPER BOWL XXIX PARTICIPANT

I don't know that I have a favorite memory.  It's more remembering how the entire nation was focused on the game and all the excitement leading up to the game.  Our trainer at the time had been to two Super Bowls with the Redskins and he told us that even though it would be hard to do, we had to find the time to enjoy the experience because it easily could all become a blur.  The key for anyone is if you can soak up the atmosphere of the week while maintaining your focus on the reason you are there.

To reach the Super Bowl is special for any player.  Stan Brock had played in the league for 15 years with the Saints and then with us for two, and he had a great career. But as great a career as it was, until that year he could never say he'd been to the Super Bowl.   Winning is obviously your ultimate goal, but the longer you play, you also come to understand how incredibly difficult it is to reach that point.  Each team that reaches the Super Bowl is deserving of the honor that comes with the accomplishment.

R BLOG:  Media Day has become such an over-the-top day in terms of sideshows and distractions.  How does that compare with your memories?

BARNES:  Media Day for us wasn't much of a problem.  In those days, unless you were considered the face of the team, you really didn't get scrutinized.  The media might have been only interested in talking to maybe six or seven guys and the rest of us just hung around.       

GRANT :  Media day can be tedious because you have people asking you the same question over and over and we had to stay there as long as anyone wanted us.  The hardest part was the international media, which was something new for me.  You had to wait to have them ask the question, then have it translated for you, then you answered and it was translated back.  It was pretty interesting for me, but at the same time you had to keep reminding yourself that there was game to be played and you didn't want to say anything your opponents could use.

After my first one it was pretty easy to get ready for Media Day since I knew what to expect.

If you are the underdog, all the media and attention around the Super Bowl can really work to your advantage. I know in San Diego we got really annoyed being asked over and over and over about John Elway.  It was never about us and many of us had been to two already.  I'm sure it was the same for the Raiders the year after we won and were the favorites.  I am sure they were tired about hearing about playing the defending champs.   I would always want to be the underdog in a Super Bowl.

COOPER:  I am so glad I am not a part of what they go through now with all the social media out there.   What people tend to forget is that reaching the Super Bowl makes for a long season and the mental and physical toll builds up.  It takes a toll on you and I understand why some guys when they get to the Super Bowl want to be left alone and focus on the game.

HALL:  Most of Media Day was pretty tame for me.  One thing I do remember about that day was I was interviewed by a reporter from a small town in South Carolina where my Granddad lived.   He lived in Cameron and was 108 at the time.  He was bed ridden and could not read the paper.  He was a veteran of World War I and had been born and raised in the deep south, right after the end of slavery. Now here was his grandson playing in this game that touched every corner of the country and there was a story about me in his paper.   When we went back for his funeral the next year, that story was framed and hanging on the wall in his house.

R BLOG:  Memorabilia is such a big part of the sporting world these days.  Do you have any special keepsakes from the Super Bowl?

BARNES:  I really don't have anything.  Most of the stuff from that time I gave away over the years to family and friends.  I donated a few things to the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.

GRANT:  I really don't have anything from the games.  I have pictures and those are really the best things to have.

COOPER:  I should have kept my shoes, but at that time, I didn't think about such things.  I kept wearing those shoes and eventually they wore out.  I didn't know I was walking with greatness.  I didn't know that I had Hall of Fame teammates or that I was catching a famous touchdown pass.  I didn't think that way at the time.   The one thing I did was have all my teammates sign a poster at (second one), but it's all wrinkled up.  A lot of it came down to when I left the NFL, I put that part of my life behind me.

My daughter is a senior in high school right now and she was so excited to see some highlights from that first Super Bowl, including my touchdown catch, but other than watching it with her, I've never really watched old highlights.  It was a great ride and it was nice to see her reaction, but as I said, I pretty much put those times behind me.  It was a happy chapter in my life, but I don't talk about it much these days.

HALL:  No real special piece of memorabilia specifically from that game. From that year I have my jersey and my AFC Championship ring, but that's about it.

R BLOG:  As a Rice graduate, describe your reactions when you know that a fellow Owl will be back in the Super Bowl this Sunday.

BARNES:   I am very proud of him.  I don't really know any of the others (Owls who played in the Super Bowl), but we share the bond of having graduated from a great institution.  We are all Fighting Rice Owls.

GRANT:  It's always an added treat to see an Owl in the Super Bowl.

COOPER:  I pump my fist whenever Luke makes a play, because I know what he's accomplished to have gone to Rice and then reached the league.  It's a great accomplishment and every Owl who has played football knows what it took for him to reach this level.

When I first made it, I had many friends who had grown up Cowboy fans and the games with the 49er's had so much on the line.  M friends all had mixed emotion in those games because they also appreciated what I had done to graduate from Rice and be playing on Sunday. Nobody expected it to happen, but  I was always most proud of the fact that I came from a small town, graduated from Rice, reached the NFL, played for Super Bowl Champions and then walked away on my own when I decided it was time.

HALL:  When I watch NFL games on television, I don't really root for any particular team, I root for individuals, so this weekend is perfect. I can point with pride for every contribution Luke makes on Sunday.

A Personal Connection

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Four years ago while on a family vacation to Hawaii, Andrew Reue and his family made their first visit to the Arizona Memorial.

At the time it was a powerful experience, making the solemn trip to the site where so many young men were lost.  

 But two years later, he learned that his family had a far more direct connection to the events of December 7, 1941, a connection that made the opportunity to return to the Arizona Memorial on Monday with his Rice teammates a much more personally moving experience.

Reue's grandfather, Walden Miller, had been at Pearl Harbor that fateful day, and had manned one of the many vessels that dodged flames and debris to pull as many injured sailors from the waters in the aftermath of the sneak attack.

"My grandfather actually never told us he had been at Pearl Harbor," Reue explained. "Whenever we'd ask him about his experiences in the Navy, he never tell us about where he was stationed, or things like that.  It wasn't until he was really sick, that his daughter was talking about it with my mom and we learned that he was stationed here as an electrician on a smaller ship when the Japanese attacked."

Miller was assigned to one of the smaller ships in the harbor that day, one that was spared the onslaught of the attacking Japanese planes.  He saw the destruction of the Pacific Fleet's battleships and was powerless to do anything other than to join in the rescue efforts.

Whatever he witnessed that day, he chose to keep to himself and spare his family any of the details of that horrific morning.

"I had the opportunity to come four years ago and that was an awesome experience," Reue said. "When you are on the memorial you can feel a presence there.  It's very sobering, just remembering everyone who had died. But that was before we knew my grandfather had been here.  Now that I know that, it has even more impact. "

Nearly 70 years later, and four years removed from his first visit to the final resting place of the Arizona, Reue faced the reality that he and his teammates were perhaps even older than many of the servicemen who saw their lives cut short that day as well as many such as his grandfather who were thrust into a Word War.

It puts a different perspective on the challenges that await on Christmas Eve when the Owls face Fresno State.

"I am very thankful for what he has done and everyone in the military has done to make sure we have opportunities us to do things like come to beautiful Hawai'i and play in a football game," he stated. 

A PRETTY GOOD TRIP SO FAR

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On the ride back from Rice's first practice at Aloha Stadium on Saturday, the bulk of the Owls were eagerly awaiting their arrival back at the Sheraton Waikiki when they would visit the Hawai'i Bowl Gift Suite to pick up their bowl gifts.

But their starting quarterback was far more interested in the constant flow of information that was coming to him over his cell phone.

While he was also excited to pick up the gifts that further validated his performance in his first year of leading the Owls' offensive attack, Jackson was equally enthralled with the efforts of the Cedar Hill Longhorns, who were locked in an epic duel with the Katy Tigers to decide the Texas Class 6A Division II state title for the third year in a row.

Jackson, who was a three-year starter for the Longhorns from 2008-10, was anxiously seeking the latest news as the two Texas titans took their rubber match down to the wire, except when he first checked his phone after practice, his delivery system was not working as planned.

"My girlfriend, Sydney Davis was supposed to be getting me the updates, but she was slacking early on as far as giving me the information," Jackson recalled after Sunday's workout at Aloha Stadium." I had to get on to her a little bit and from that point on she was basically giving me a play by play."

As Jackson and the Owls headed to the room in the hotel where the bowl gifts were waiting, he got the one piece of information he wanted most of all and Cedar Hill nailed a 25-yard field goal with two seconds left to down Katy for the second consecutive year.

"When I got the update when we won, the first person I had to go find was Coach (Larry) Edmondson, since he had told me he picked Katy to win and then I was messing with Nico (Carlson) because he was giving me a bad time because he's from Katy," Jackson stated.

Jackson's weekend brightened even more when he learned that his beloved Dallas Cowboys had demolished Indianapolis 42-7, making him 2-for-2 in terms of his rooting interests as a fan.

"It's refreshing to know that my high school is still handling its business long after I am gone and the young guys there are able to go out and dominate," Jackson noted. " And the Cowboys won today to clinch the division, so it's been a pretty good weekend."

On Wednesday, Jackson will look to close out the run by leading Rice to a win over Fresno State in the Hawai'i Bowl.   The Owls have never beaten the Bulldogs in six career meetings and should Jackson do so, he would also become the first Rice quarterback to win two bowl games.   His first win came in relief of an injured Taylor McHargue when he came into to complete 15-21 passes for 264 yards and a pair of touchdowns, 231 of those yards and both TDs in the second half as the Owls outscored Air Force 26-0 after the break to win 33-14.

After the success of his favorite high school and NFL teams, Jackson has a chance to complete the picture with a Christmas Eve win.   And he won't have to rely on any third parties to let him know how it turns out. 

Darryl Grant Comes Home to Rice

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Darryl Grant stepped back on to the field at Rice Stadium for the first time in over 30 years on Thursday, taking up an offer from head coach David Bailiff to speak to the current group of Owls as they wrapped up preparations for Saturday's Homecoming clash with UTSA.

Few former Owls could bring as formidable a list of accomplishments with their message to the current players.  Grant beat the odds as a ninth-round pick by Washington in 1981, playing for 11 years in the NFL and capturing two Super Bowl rings.  In 2007, he was enshrined in the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame, where he joined former Rice standouts Tommy Kramer, Tobin Rote and Norm Charlton.

But fewer could find kinship with so many of the position groups of players who gathered to hear his message, because during his time at Rice, Grant seemingly saw playing time at nearly every position along the offensive and defensive fronts for the Owls.

Grant001.jpg

Grant arrived on South Main in 1977 as a center, but someone who had excelled on both sides of the ball at Highlands High School in San Antonio. He would letter as a true freshman at that position, then move to nose guard as a sophomore, linebacker as a junior and then flip back to offensive tackle as a senior.  

"They (the Rice coaching staff) knew that I could play pretty much anywhere they needed me. I was willing to move, so they placed me wherever there was a need.  I always looked at it that they had confidence in me to handle it." Grant said. "It seemed like I was always drawing the assignment against the other team's best player.  When I was a sophomore at nose guard and we played against Oklahoma, it meant I was going against Greg Roberts (1978 Outland winner). When I was a senior playing Arkansas, it meant lining up a tackle against Billy Ray Smith (two-time, All-American)."

"I looked at each challenge as an opportunity to be noticed because I knew scouts would be watching tape of those players. My hope always was that I would stand out on film and they would add me to their list of prospects. I always believed that showing versatility would be something that would help me get to the pros."

Grant's hunch paid off when Washington selected him in the ninth round in 1981, announcing his selection as a guard.  Grant was part of a draft haul for the Redskins that included Mark May (OT), Russ Grimm (OG), Dexter Manley (DE) and Clint Didier (TE).  Each of those players would become a stalwart on Washington teams that would play for the NFC title four times in the next decade. Grant would join them, but only after yet another position change, to defensive tackle.

After a rookie season spent learning the position, Grant became a fixture on the Washington defensive front, along with Manley, Charles Mann and Dave Butz.   In 10 seasons in Washington, Grant went to the playoffs six times, played in four NFC Championships and three Super Bowls, winning twice. 

But for all his accumulated time in the postseason, Grant's career may be best remembered for the celebratory spike after scoring the only touchdown of his career to cement Washington's 31-17 win over Dallas in the NFC title game.

With Washington clinging to a 24-17 lead with seven minutes left in the game, Dallas quarterback Gary Hogeboom's screen pass to Tony Dorsett was deflected into the air by Manley. Grant grabbed the deflection and deftly avoided tacklers to reach the end zone.

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Grant unleashed a fearsome spike of the ball as the Washington fans went into a state of delirium fueled by the knowledge they had vanquished the hated Cowboys and were going to the Super Bowl. The celebration grew so boisterous that sections of RFK Stadium began to bounce and a few began to crash in to each other.

A photo of Grant's spike found its way on the cover of Sports Illustrated, ensuring Grant a lifetime of autograph requests.

"I've easily signed tens of thousands of them," Grant recalled. "And these are not reprints of the cover.  These are original magazines with the address labels on them. The funny thing is whenever anyone has one for me to sign, they also tell me they were there in that end zone when I scored, but there is no way that many people were actually in that corner," he laughed.

Ironically, Grant's moment in time allowed him to join a former Rice teammate, Earl Cooper, as two of three former Owls (Frank Ryan, twice as a member of the Cleveland Browns) to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated. Cooper made two appearances in his career with San Francisco giving the duo three covers, or just one less than the number of wins they enjoyed in three seasons as teammates at Rice.

This weekend, Grant will join with many of his old teammates to reminisce not so much about the scores of games, but of the experiences that bond teammates for eternity, no matter the outcome of contests.

"We held our own in so many games back then, but we did not come out with a lot of wins," Grant said. "But they were great times and I am looking forward to sharing a lot of stories."

Del Barrio Named Newest Voice of Rice Women's Basketball

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HOUSTON, Texas - When the Rice Owls women's basketball team takes the floor on Nov. 14 against Prairie View A&M in the season opener, they will have a new voice over the airwaves bringing you all the action. Rice IMG announced on Friday the addition of Alex Del Barrio for the upcoming 2014-15 season, a familiar voice in the Houston sports world.

Alex Del Barrio

"I want to thank Rice Athletics and IMG for bringing me into the family as I am beyond excited for this opportunity to join the broadcast team for the Owls," Del Barrio said. "I think the fans of Rice will enjoy my call of the game and I look forward to describing the action of Owl athletics to all of the students, faculty, staff, alumni, and fans of the program."

Del Barrio is currently a talk show host and on-air talent for SportsRadio 610 in Houston. Prior to his move to Houston, he was the announcer for the world famous Harlem Globetrotters. He performed with the Globetrotters in 26 countries on five continents in a two year stint from 2011-13.

Prior to the Globetrotters he worked in a variety of broadcasting roles in McAllen, TX. His most notable was as the voice of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the NBA Development League affiliate of the Houston Rockets. Del Barrio's professional works includes play-by-play on NBA TV and also serving as the sports anchor for FOX 2 News in McAllen. He also most recently filled in for the Rice Owls baseball in 2014 when he called the three-game series against FIU.

Del Barrio is 31 and lives in Houston, TX.

All-Points Bulletin

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On a cold and blustery November day in 1959, Rice and Texas A&M faced off for little more than bragging rights, but the less than ideal conditions set the stage for one Owl to post a truly unique milestone as Rice senior Gordon Speer personally accounted for all the points on both sides of the ball in a 7-2 Rice win. 

The two schools were two years removed from an epic showdown at Rice Stadium that feature the top-ranked Aggies and 20th ranked Owls, but on this day, Rice was still in search of its first win of the year in a season that had tied with then #17 Florida (17-17) and then #15 SMU (13-13) as the high water marks. It's worth noting that although they came into the game 0-5-2, all but one of the Owls first seven opponents came into the game ranked, including an opener against defending national champion LSU.  A&M had seen the promise of a 3-1 non-conference start, including a win over at then #19 Michigan State, dissolve in four consecutive losses in Southwest Conference play. 

The game was also the third consecutive to be played at Rice Stadium, as the series had been moved as the annual site of the series in 1957 and would remain as such through 1967 to take advantage of the much larger capacity of the Owls home field. However the bone-chilling damp and windy day kept most of the paying patrons away, but those who braved the elements came away with a story to tell. 

After the Owls were backed up to their goal line in the first quarter, Speer's punt attempted was seized by the northerly winds and sent rolling back towards the goal line. Only an alert play by quarterback Billy Bucek prevented an Aggie touchdown as he raced to cover the ball for a safety. 

With neither team showing much offensive threat, those lone points appeared to be the deciding tally until A&M chose to punt as time ran out at the end of the third quarter to take advantage the the wind.   Speer was standing at his own 40 and proceeded towards the Rice sideline before bouncing off several shivering would-be tacklers and the setting sail for the north end zone for a touchdown.  He then settled himself to convert the point after to give the Owls their margin of victory. 

Rice would go on to face yet another ranked team (10th ranked TCU) the following week, falling 35-6 before ending the year with a close 23-21 defeat to Baylor to end the year 1-7-2.  The Aggies would end the year winless in the conference after a 20-17 loss to Texas, meaning Speer's unique afternoon had place the Owls one spot ahead of the Aggies in the final SWC standings. 

Harris Looks Back on Special Summer

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With the beginning of the 2014 season on the horizon, Rice sophomore volleyball standout Chelsey Harris had time to look back on a summer of a lifetime that saw her play in Europe while representing the U.S. These are the words of Chelsey Harris...

I set off for the Olympic Training Center this year in Colorado Springs, CO with hopes of having a great three days of volleyball at the open tryout for the US Women's National Team. Soon after in April, I was informed that I made the roster for the U.S. Collegiate Women's National Team of 36 representatives to play in Minneapolis, MN. I was extremely thankful to know that my performance at the tryout had granted me the opportunity to perform with such amazing players and learn such amazing things from a group of awesome coaches. I was anxious, and extremely eager to get on the road and train with these athletes and experience what was considered to be another shot at trying to get on the National Team roster.

After being informed about my place on the Minneapolis roster, as well as the roster for the college national team traveling to Europe, I reflected on a previous time in which I had the opportunity to represent the U.S. in Des Moines, Iowa at the High Performance Championships at the junior level. That meant so much to me at the time, and it was a huge deal because it was then that I decided that I ultimately wanted to continue representing USA as a volleyball player. I really looked forward to representing the U.S. now that I had started my college career and I had had time to grow. I was so thankful and ecstatic knowing that my performance at the tryout in Colorado Springs had not gone unnoticed. Knowing my performance had been worthy enough to make these rosters gave me chills, because I remembered how overwhelmed I felt at the tryout. During the tryouts, I continually had thoughts about the evaluation, and how intense it must have been for the staff to somehow manage effectively evaluating over 200 players in such a small amount of time.

Reflecting on my time in Minneapolis, I would say that the time I spent there was very valuable. After a few training days, we were split off into three teams, where we would compete against one another at the Junior National Championships. As soon as my team had gotten together, it seemed like we were automatically in sync and we had it all together during the first few sessions we trained together. We were winning scrimmages and we were immediately successful. However, toward the end of the championships, we ran into trouble in terms of how we should take steps and aim toward maintaining the spark we were showing beforehand once our performance was lacking. I felt like the discussions we began to have and various expressions of each of our team's members were very similar to the discussions of our volleyball program here at Rice. It was definitely a great privilege to be able to share thoughts with these players outside of Rice, getting to establish relationships with them, and essentially getting to listen and have open dialogue about important parts of the game with them.

ChelseyHarris.jpg

The experience was very helpful for me and I've gained some great insight on the importance of becoming a great teammate and catering to a teams needs. Evaluation of what works and what doesn't for a team is extremely critical in volleyball when you have hopes of making great achievements like I do for the volleyball program at Rice. Most of the players had more years of experience, which especially made the information they were sharing with me appreciated. Even though I had less than a week between my Minneapolis trip and Europe, I had goals of keeping my insight from the Minneapolis trip in mind as I departed for my next trip.

Being selected for the College National Team European Tour to represent the U.S. overseas is without a doubt one of my biggest accomplishments. Participating in the annual Global Challenge Tournament in Pula, Croatia and having the opportunity to play under the coaching staff of UCLA's head women's volleyball coach Mike Sealy, Northern Colorado's Assistant Head Coach Jenny Glenn, and Long Island's coach Kyle Robinson was phenomenal. I realized very soon that coaching styles and attitudes of players in Europe were very different than those of the U.S.  Over the course of the two weeks I spent overseas, I developed a new appreciation for my ability to be able to play the sport I love and I learned so much about individuals that are just as passionate about volleyball as myself. I was afforded the opportunity to train and explore in multiple cities in Slovenia, Pula (Croatia) and also Venice, Italy. Being able to represent the country in such amazing places this summer has really been a blessing, and the memories I've made with the other collegiate athletes of the US will always be cherished. I can honestly say that I'm extremely happy to have been able to meet such amazing people both on and off of the court and the trips I've been on this summer have afforded me relationships that will probably last a lifetime! I'm looking forward to remaining in contact with my teammates, and keeping up with them as our seasons go on. In addition, I'm also looking forward to representing the USA more, with hopes of potentially fulfilling my goal of possibly making the women's national team roster as well. Wearing a USA jersey, giving my best effort, and going after it during practices and game time will never get old to me, and I find comfort in knowing that I have time to keep growing and working towards my goal.

NEWTON, Kan.  - The initial 2,848 entrants into the 2014 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship have whittled down to just 32, including Rice sophomore Kevin Reilly, following Wednesday's match play win in the Round of 64.

USAPL Flag SickReilly rallied from a pair of early deficits and led the entire back nine en route to a two-up triumph over Ryann Ree (Redondo Beach, Calif.) at the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship.

Though the actual scores aren't reflected in the match play format, Reilly tallied a 67 (-4) with six birdies to top Ree, who recently completed his sophomore season at Oregon. In all, Reilly won six holes to Ree's four and the competitors tied on the remaining 10.

The Oviedo, Fla. native advances to face 2014 Nebraska graduate Matt Record, who tied for 20th at this season's Big Ten Championship. Record knocked off his opponent with a one-up win in the group ahead of Reilly.

With his head coach acting as caddy for the event, Reilly breezed through the opening two rounds of stroke play at 71-70--141 (-1). He claimed 17th place among the 1566 qualifiers at Sand Creek Station Golf Course.

The winner of Thursday's morning match will play again in the Round of 16 at 1:10 p.m. that afternoon.

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USAPL Match Tree | USAPL Home | Reilly Tees Off USAPL Match Play (RiceOwls.com)

Friends and Supporters of Rice Athletics,

Thank you so much for the warm welcome Jill, Charlie, and I have received since our arrival in Houston last fall. Your outreach and kindness has helped us develop a deep affinity for the community we now call home. We are grateful for all of your support.

Thank you as well to our Owl Club donors. As we look toward the future, your support of Rice Athletics will be critical in helping us realize our potential. I'm thankful for what you do to help our student-athletes and coaches reach for success in all aspects of their lives.

Now that we're nearing the end of our spring season, I wanted to share with you some of my observations and aspirations for Rice Athletics. I've deliberately taken time to learn as much as I can about Rice, what strengthens us, and where we need change. I'm very excited about what I've found.

First, let me say that David Leebron is a fantastic president and partner. He cares deeply about the fortunes of our athletics program, and he wants to win. He understands our challenges and has been very supportive of our efforts to improve. I'm delighted to work with him. We strategize together, we share some laughs, and we enjoy watching our students perform at a high level.

Under David's leadership, Rice University fully supports our efforts to be successful, and they continue to step up in new ways. Counting the full cost of a grant-in-aid for our student-athletes, Rice underwrites nearly two-thirds of our total operating budget. I think it's important to recognize this, since we paid back the full cost of scholarships to the university at my previous institution. Rice has also provided the funding for a new artificial turf in Rice Stadium and helped us with compensation packages for our conference championship football staff. What Rice University contributes to the athletics program in the way of tuition, operational support, and enhancements is astounding, and we should be grateful for it.

For our programs to grow and prosper into the future, we need to generate more support from the surrounding communities. We must sell more tickets and recruit new donors to the Owl Club. Our current ticket and donation revenue streams will need to generate three times our current rate for us to have the resources we need to be competitive in 2020 and beyond. We will commit to funding the positions and technology to make that happen beginning next year. 

I believe we have reached a period of relative stability regarding conference realignment. The Pac-12, Big 12, Big Ten, ACC, and SEC have each brokered agreements with their member institutions regarding the grant of media rights. These rights agreements stretch 10 years or more, meaning that institutions from these conferences have given their first, second, and sometimes third-tier media rights to the conference for the next decade. Such grants typically preclude institutions from moving to a different conference, since their rights are owned by their current conference. We've also seen these five conferences move to a model of equal revenue-sharing, such that any new members would need to bring a pro-rata share to the existing contract.

For Rice, conference affiliation isn't the primary goal anyway. Our aspiration is to win conference championships and finish in the top 25 in each of our 16 varsity sports. While staying true to the values of Rice University, we will pursue any opportunities that enhance our ability to be a national caliber athletics program. For us to be great, and to do so with some degree of consistency and sustainability, we have to invest in areas where we can grow revenues and then be very careful about where we allocate the incremental resources we generate.

I'm very bullish on the future of Rice Athletics. We can and will win. We have a supportive president who values the merits of a successful athletics program. We have coaches and staff who are committed to teaching the values of leadership, teamwork, perseverance, and hard work. We have a talented and motivated group of student-athletes. And we have an enthusiastic community of friends, fans, and alumni who care deeply about the university and success of Rice Athletics. I'm honored to serve as your director of athletics, and I look forward to partnering with you to ensure a successful and sustainable future for our Rice Owls!

Best regards,

Joe Karlgaard

 

 

Meet The New Voice of Rice Women's Basketball

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The Owls women's basketball squad tips-off the 2013-14 season tonight at Prairie View A&M at 7 p.m. and with it, the debut of the new voice of Rice ladies hoops, Lane Zieben. The Houston, Texas native is in his first season as a member of the Rice IMG Sports Network and we had a few moments to get meet the newest Owl:

Lane3.jpg

Q: What type of radio background do you have?
LZ: I started broadcasting in high school at Elkins High School in Missouri City in 2005. I then worked for Texas Sports (radio and television) at the University of Texas (2006-2012) for six years calling women's basketball, volleyball, soccer, and softball. I graduated from Texas in 2009 but continued calling games after. I was hired as the first broadcaster for the Sugar Land Skeeters Independent Minor League team in 2012. In total I've been involved in over 140 live broadcasts on the radio. I have also called games for Fox College Sports, National Pro Fast Pitch Softball and Texas High School Football.

Q: What is your favorite broadcasting memory up to this point?
LZ: Probably being able to call Roger Clemens' comeback with the Sugar Land Skeeters last summer (2012) at Constellation Field in Sugar Land. It was his first start since he retired from MLB.

Q: What made the Rice job appealing to you?
LZ: I have been fortunate enough to stay in the city I grew up in. There is a high standard of excellence when it comes to academics at Rice, and I want to bring the same expectations into the broadcast booth for a sports program that is growing within the realm of college sports. IMG & Rice are giving me the opportunity to evolve the position from what it has been in the past. Without reinventing the wheel, I think I can help broaden the university's reach on the mic.

Q: Who do you look up to in radio broadcasting?
LZ: Mike Tirico's versatility, Al Michaels' calming demeanor and Carter Blackburn's delivery on the mic.

Q: What excites you the most about this upcoming Rice season?
LZ: The stability Rice has returning from last year.  Ten out of 13 players are returning, which provides great depth and team chemistry. Also, the competition level rises with the additions to CUSA.  Rice is in a great position to be part of a bigger stage this year.

To listen to all Rice women's basketball throughout the season, be sure to visit this link: http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/rice.portal#.

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