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FloSports Debuts with Familiar Voices

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Sign up to watch Rice-LA Tech 

Rice Athletics and FloSports kick off their partnership on Saturday with live coverage of the Owls home game with Louisiana Tech only on FloFootball.com and the broadcast will have a  pair of voices behind the microphones familiar to Owls fans.

Tom Franklin, a fixture on Houston airwaves for 30 years, will call the action and be joined in the booth by former KHOU sports anchor Butch Alsandor.

For Franklin, the return to the Rice Stadium broadcast will have its share of nostalgia, as he began his college broadcasting career in 1983 as part of the Rice Football radio broadcast.

"I did color for football from 83-86, first two years with Dave South, the last two with John Greer," Franklin said. "Then I moved to play-by-play in Fred Goldsmith's first year in 1989 which led me to the Oilers for four years. I returned to Rice in '94, Ken Hatfield's first year, doing color for Matt Musil. Then I did play-by-play in 2001. In actuality, I did more basketball play-by-play than football play-by-play. Channel 11 wouldn't let Matt away for those 30 or so games, so I inherited them," he explained.

"Augie Erfurth (former Rice Athletics Director) gave me my first chance to be on a broadcast crew in 1983 and then Bobby May gave me that first play-by-play opportunity in '89, which led to the Oilers. So even though I attended UH, Rice has always held a special place in my heart, and I will always owe them a huge debt of gratitude," Franklin added.

Saturday's game is the first of six Rice athletic contests offered across the FloSports network.  FloSports will also broadcast the men's basketball season opener vs. Eastern Kentucky on November 10 as well as games vs. Georgia State (Nov. 14) and UTEP (March1) on FLoHoops.com.  FloSports will also offer a pair of Rice women's basketball C-USA games on FloHoops.com as well, WKU on February 10 and Marshall on February 22.

In addition to game coverage, FloSports will also generate Rice specific content across its digital network, such as this feature on Rice linebacker Emmanuel Ellerbee 

Rice is one of two C-USA schools to partner with FloSports for football.  The partnership debuted with WKU's game with Eastern Kentucky on September 2 and continued with the WKU's Homecoming game vs. Charlotte on October 14.

To access live coverage of these events, visit FloFootball.com and become a monthly or annual FloPRO subscriber. Annual subscribers unlock access to premium content across the entire FloSports network . Fans can watch the games on their big screen televisions by downloading the FloSports app on Roku or Apple TV 4. 

Studying Abroad: Bennett Travels to Brazil

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Over the summer, Rice sophomore guard Tayler Bennett got the opportunity of a lifetime by studying abroad in Brazil. RiceOwls.com sat down with Bennett to discuss that opportunity and what it meant to her. 

Q: How did the process of getting to go to Brazil develop?

Tayler: "On my initial visit, Coach Langley got the professor from the art history department to come and meet with me. He told me they had been to Rome that summer and they do study abroad trips. I thought that was so cool. So, when I got to Rice and took my first art history class I was very interested about the process. I needed to find out when the application was due. At the first meeting we needed to write a letter about why we wanted to study abroad and how the trip would benefit my education at Rice. I wrote a letter hoping to get selected. I had so many people look it over after I was done because I wanted it to be perfect! I was super lucky to have been chosen and get the opportunity because only 10 people were selected."

Q: What were some of the highlights of the trip?

Tayler: "We went to three cities over the course of the trip and the longest amount of time we stayed in any spot was in Rio. We were there about two weeks and also visited Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, and São Paulo. Rio was amazing, we were visiting the downtown areas and the Christ the Redeemer statue. We stayed in the Ipanema area, which is where the beautiful beaches are. We visited a lot of churches and cathedrals and buildings that were created by well-known Brazilian architects. I was very enthused and interested about learning as much as possible."



Q: Did you ever imagine getting to do something like this?


Tayler: It's crazy to think at the age of 18 I got to do something so unimaginable. It's something I always wanted to do but thought it probably wouldn't get to happen until later in life. For Rice to give me the opportunity to go when the only thing I had to pay for was food, it's just hard to fathom. I was so appreciative."


Q: What type of impact would you say this journey had on you?


Tayler: "The culture there had a great impact on me. Everyone was very welcoming. I wasn't really a people person coming into Rice and I can definitely say that changed after this trip. I've become more of an open and inviting person. I'd like to keep making those positive changes. Also, it made me just a more happy person. Everyone there was genuinely happy with what they were doing and you could always feel that. A lot of people had warned me about Brazil, especially after the Olympics, but we didn't encounter anything close to that. We felt extremely safe. It made me realize that we shouldn't always absorb the news we hear because we have no idea what's taking place in those countries."

Stanford claims Sydney Cup

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The Rice Owls saw their hopes for a memorable debut on an international stage end early as the 14th ranked Stanford Cardinal rolled to a 62-7 win in the second annual Sydney Cup at Allianz Stadium in Sydney, Australia.


Junior running back Samuel Stewart led the Owls with 71 yards rushing and added a career-high 41 yards on three receptions while senior co-captain Emmanuel Ellerbee recorded his eighth double digit tackle game in his last 12 games to lead the Owls.


"We're a good team, but we didn't play like it today," Rice head coach David Bailiff said. "It's one of those things that as a coach you will go back and look at the film and analyze it and try to see what we can do better, what we can do different and what we need to get away from."


Playing on a sunny Sunday afternoon in the Southern Hemisphere while friends and family endured a turbulent Saturday night in Houston as the remnants of Hurricane Harvey unleashed torrential rains and tornados, the Owls saw their hopes for a quick start quashed as the Cardinal struck for a score in the first minute of the game.


170827_Football_Rice_vs_Stanford_Sydney_Cup 468 400.jpgRice was unable to answer that initial score after they were pinned inside their own 10-yard line after a short return of the kickoff and a pair of penalties eventually setting up the Cardinal on a short field, which they quickly converted to double their advantage.


"When you play a team like Stanford, or any elite football team, you have to be the best team," Bailiff noted. "You can't make mistakes -- where you have two illegal procedure penalties that get you down in the hole immediately. We made some poor decisions early that got us in a hole."


Redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Glaesmann completed seven of 18 passes for 69 yards in his collegiate debut and led the Owls on their lone scoring drive of the night early in the fourth quarter, which was capped by a 23-yard run by junior Austin Walter for the Owls first points outside the United States. Glaesmann's lone interception came on his final play of the day when the ball slipped from his hand into those of Stanford's Jovan Swann.


"I was pleased with how our young quarterback played," Bailiff said. "The ball came out of his hand, and we've got to get that fixed, but I thought from managing the game he was good at his play. A lot of the things that went wrong were because of the things that were around him."


Glaesmann was one of five Owls to make their first career starts, joining Emmanuel Esukpa, D.J. Green, Jordan Myers and Kenneth Thompson and one of nine players to make their collegiate debuts in the opener (Glaesmann, Myers, Aaron Cephus, Garrett Grammar, Cameron Montgomery, George Nyakwol, Will Phillips, Dylan Silcox, Austin Trammell). Trammell, who joined Grammar, Montgomery and Nyakwol in debuting as true freshmen, picked up 10 yards on his first career carry.

While he acknowledged that the specter of the ongoing developments at home were never far from the minds of his players and staff, Bailiff also refused to use it as a major factor in the outcome of the game.


"You try to tell them to let me worry about that (Hurricane Harvey) and let them just play football," Bailiff stated. "I think we did the best that we could with what is going on back home. We're not going to use that as an excuse."


The Owls are slated to depart on Monday morning (Sydney time), with the first leg of their trip taking them to Los Angeles. Their remaining travel plans will be determined once the team arrives in California. Rice does not play again until September 9 when they travel to El Paso to take on UTEP.


Despite the outcome of the game, Bailiff said the experiences of the past week will be one his team and staff will long remember.


"What an incredible experience for our football team," Bailiff said. "The Australian people are a one-of-a-kind people. They are very friendly, humble, outgoing, and anything we needed, they helped us out. I appreciate the hospitality of the Australian people a lot.


"The game obviously isn't a great memory, but the tour of the harbor, some of the sites and sounds and the cultural exchange with the University of Sydney is one that these guys, 10, 20 30 years from now will always reflect back to."

Rice versus Stanford in Sydney

Owls put final touch on Sydney Cup prep

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From all of us here in Sydney, we are hoping for the continued safety of all of our family, friends and fellow Owls on the Rice campus through this weekend and coming days. We have all been monitoring the continuing evolution of Hurricane Harvey, which is now a tropical storm. This morning Australian national television news shows were reporting on the storm, so the storm is widely known by Aussies we run into. They have been great hosts to us, and their sympathetic words have meant a lot.


The Owls completed their prep Saturday. The program will open its 106th season as the "home" team here in Sydney when they face Stanford at noon Sunday (Saturday at 9 p.m. CDT U.S.). The game will be televised nationally in the United States on ESPN. For the first time, the players visited the venue where the game will be played, Allianz Stadium, and took to the turf to get acquainted and participate in a team walkthrough. There were no other scheduled public team events.


We have had very good weather in Sydney all week. It has been sunny with the highs in the low 60s. That could change tomorrow, as forecasters are calling for a 70 percent chance of rain; however, right now it looks like the rain might hold off until the end of the game.


gathering owls 400.jpgSaturday night Rice Owls alumni, donors and fans gathered on the 32nd floor of the InterContinental Sydney hotel's Supper Club bar, where they socialized and took in some breathtaking views high above the Sydney Harbour and the city.


Rice versus Stanford

This is the sixth meeting between Rice and Stanford. Rice leads the all-time series 3-2, thanks to wins in the first three games (34-7 in Houston in 1957; 30-7 at Stanford in 1958 and 17-7 at Rice Stadium in 1963). The Cardinal won 34-7 at home in 1964 and 41-17 last season in Stanford. 


Rice did not face Stanford for 52 years, but will be facing them in consecutive games after closing the 2016 season with a loss at Stanford. This will mark the third time in school history the Owls have opened a season against the same team they had played in the final game of the previous year. Rice and Houston closed the 1982 campaign and then kicked off the 1983 season. The two schools duplicated it again in 2005-2006.


Coach David Bailiff announced within the past two weeks that redshirt freshman Sam Glaesmann will make the start as quarterback against Stanford. He will become the first redshirt freshman to start an opener for the Owls since Taylor McHargue opened the 2010 season versus Texas at Reliant Stadium. He said recently that you have to "find a moment or two to step back and soak it all in."


170826_Bailiff_ESPN_Stadium_Walk_through 183 400.jpgWho is back for the Owls?

Rice returns a total of 13 players who made the majority of the starts from last year, in addition to a 14th player who was a starter in 2015 before missing last season, due to an injury,


Rice returns eight defensive starters in addition to cornerback Justin Bickham, who earned C-USA All-Freshman honors in 2015 before suffering an injury in training camp prior to the '16 season. He joins linebacker Emmanuel Ellerbee, the preseason C-USA Defensive Player of the Year, defensive tackle Preston Gordon, defensive ends Blain Padget and Brian Womac, corner V.J. Banks, and safeties J.T. Ibe and Destri White. Seniors Peter Godber and Trey Martin lead the five returning members of the Owls offensive line, which includes Calvin Anderson, Sam Pierce and Corey Klingler. Running back Sam Stewart is not officially listed as a returning starter, due to his being limited to just four starts because of injuries last year.


Quick take:


Rice safety Christian Bertrand will celebrate his 20th birthday when he takes the field against Stanford Aug. 27, but his family in Houston will be hours from celebrating it, because kickoff will be at 9 p.m. on the 26th back home.

Owls put final touch on Sydney Cup prep
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The Owls wrapped up their final practice at David Phillips Sports Complex on the campus of the University of New South Wales Friday. On Saturday the team will hold a walkthrough at Sunday's game site, Allianz Stadium.


When speaking to reporters at practice today, head football coach David Bailiff was asked about Hurricane Harvey churning toward the Texas coast.


"We had the same thing in 2008 (the team was in Nashville when Hurricane Ike was approaching)," Bailiff said. "You're honest with the players. You're transparent with them. You let them know the sequence of events from our past experience and help them deal with it.


"I'm proud that our governor of Texas declared a state of emergency early, and the city of Houston has done an incredible job of preparing for these things and getting information out to the public months ahead of time."


Bailiff was then asked about facing Stanford again after recently ending the 2016 season against them.


170825_Practice4_MOU 111 400.jpg"Look, we're a different team," he said. "A lot of guys that didn't play in it last year are going to play against Stanford this year. I'm excited about opening against a team like Stanford -- a premier football team. We have to go out there and be the best football team we can be." 


At about the same time practice was wrapping up, Rice University President David Leebron and University Representative Y. Ping Sun arrived in Sydney Friday to join the Owls just days ahead of Rice kicking off the football season against Stanford in the Sydney Cup.


The president's first official event in town was a visit to the University of Sydney, where he was greeted by university officials in front of the school's iconic clock tower. While pleasantries were being made, Rice's fight song was being masterfully played in the clock tower building on the university's carillon, one of only two of the instruments in the country.


170825_Practice4_MOU 401 400.jpgLike the football team had done days before he arrived, Leebron started his visit with a tour of campus; however, the campus looked a bit different today. USyd, as they like to call it, was preparing for their annual "Open Day," when 30,000 prospective students and families descend on the school to tour and obtain admissions information.


 After the 30-minute walking tour, Leebron was joined by Rice Athletics Director Joe Karlgaard, head football coach David Bailiff and five Owls football players as he met with Tyrone Carlin, deputy vice chancellor (registrar) and professor of financial reporting and regulation at USyd, and signed a new study-abroad agreement to make it possible for more Rice students to go #OwlsDownUnder.


The first-of-its-kind program for Rice with an Australian university will provide Rice students the option to study abroad in Australia during the academic year or the summer.

"Studying abroad enriches a student's learning and college experience, but our students sometimes find it challenging to be away from campus during the fall or spring semester," Leebron said. "This opportunity to study at the University of Sydney also gives credit for summer studies and encourages students to explore and discover the countries and cultures they are learning about. Living in a foreign country provides invaluable educational and life experiences."

Rice will soon set up a process for students to apply to the program, which will begin in 2018.

The agreement will also allow University of Sydney students to travel, study and live on campus at Rice, where they can interact with Rice students, faculty and administrators. The agreement between the schools is for a minimum of five years and can be renewed for future years.

The agreement will encourage Rice's student-athletes to participate in overseas learning experiences.

"Due to the demand of a student-athlete's time for training, practice, competition and schoolwork, it is difficult for them to participate in a traditional study-abroad program during the academic year," Karlgaard said. "I'm grateful our student-athletes can now apply for the chance to study abroad."

"In this interconnected world, the jobs of the future will require students to have international experience -- that is why we are more than doubling the number of students who have overseas experience as part of their degree," Carlin said. "The University of Sydney will have the largest student-mobility program of any other university in Australia."

"International experience nurtures curiosity, challenges beliefs and builds relationships, and through the knowledge they exchange, these students will have the global perspective necessary to solve the challenges facing our world today."

Founded in 1850, the University of Sydney is Australia's oldest university and is regarded as one of the world's leading universities. It was recently ranked as the world's 26th-most-reputable university.

After the signing, the group enjoyed tea and snacks before taking group photos near the university's quadrangle.

Leebron is visiting Australia at the invitation of the Australian government. Prior to signing the agreement, Leebron met with the Australian deputy secretary for higher education, research and international collaboration; the CEO of Austrade; the general manager for the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science; representatives from the Australian Research Council; representatives from the Group of 8, the leading research universities in Australia; and the CEO of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australia's foremost federal government agency for scientific research.

Leebron and Sun will attend the second annual Sydney Cup, where the Rice Owls will play Stanford at Allianz Stadium for their 2017 football season opener at noon Aug. 27 (9 p.m. CDT Aug. 26 in the United States). The game will be televised nationally in the United States on ESPN.

The Owls football team had the evening off to rest up before they gear up for final practices Saturday. Some of the players headed to Bondi Beach, while others walked downtown near the team's hotel and the city's Hyde Park.

A new Sammy was unveiled today. Check out the video.

An important note for Owls fans who are with us here in Sydney: Please join us Saturday from 8 to 10 p.m. at the rooftop bar at InterContinental Sydney, an upscale hotel minutes from the Sydney Harbour and the Sydney Opera House. The hotel is located at 117 Macquarie St. We hope to see you there!

Also, join us for the Sydney Cup pregame and postgame festivities. Tickets to these events are available here.

View more photos from the Owls' fourth day in Sydney by using the arrows below in the Flickr gallery.

Owls' preparation nearly set; Leebron signs new study-abroad agreement
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After breakfast and morning meetings, the Rice Owls were back on the practice field Thursday to start fine-tuning for Sunday's (Saturday in the U.S.) season-opening football game against Stanford in the Sydney Cup in Australia.


While the majority of the team was at the David Phillips Sports Complex on the campus of the University of New South Wales, 13 freshmen and two injured upperclassmen made Rice's international football clinic even more international today.


The unique football clinic was launched in 2010 by head coach David Bailiff to help initiate Rice international students to the popular Texas and American game. By all accounts, it has been a smashing success, with national media outlets reporting on the Rice O-Week tradition and other universities imitating it for their own use.


When planning was getting underway for Rice to play Stanford in Sydney, Bailiff and Rice Athletics officials were looking for additional educational and cultural events to add to the itinerary. The international clinic seemed like a perfect fit for the trip -- and it was.


"We've had such great success with our own international clinic on campus that we reached out to the consulate in Houston and organizers of the Sydney Cup to help pair us with a school, and that school was Knox Grammar School," said Rick Mello, deputy athletics director at Rice.


Knox Grammar School is one of the largest schools in the state (New South Wales) and opened 120 years ago, according to Kieran Donohue, director of outdoor sports at Knox.

170824_Knox_Grammar_School 023 400.jpg"We have 1,800 students at the senior school and another thousand students at our prep school," he said. "We're really trying to professionalize (integrate) how we treat sports within the education sector, so I think it's a great link with what Rice students are doing with matching their academics with their performance of sports."


When the Owls arrived at the school in Wahroonga (just north of Sydney), they walked onto the playing field and watched a large group of students playing a game of American flag football. The Rice student-athletes became spontaneous sideline fans, cheering on great plays, giving high-fives and celebrating touchdowns with the young Aussie gridiron players.


"They're pretty good," said freshman wide receiver Chris Boudreaux. "Their play was a lot better than what I was expecting. I thought there would have to be a whole lot of teaching going on, but again, they're pretty good."


170824_Knox_Grammar_School 201 400.jpgAfter the flag football scrimmage ended, the Rice players organized the Knox students into five groups for the five stations they had set up. Each group ran six-minute drills. In total, there were 120 year-seven (seventh-grade) students at the quarterback, running back and offensive lineman, receiver, cornerback and safety, and defensive line and linebackers stations.


Earlier during the opening remarks by Owls junior defensive lineman Carl Thompson, one young Australian, Freddie Harris, was singled out by classmates after Thompson asked who knew the most about American football.  Harris, who is a Carolina Panthers fan, said he became a fan of American football two years earlier when running back Jarryd Hayne from Australia broke into the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers.


"It became a craze here, and I kind of liked it," said Harris, who had a good handle on the rules of the game. "I watch (the NFL) whenever the time zones overlap. I try to stay up with the Panthers and how they're doing. We get the Sunday night and Monday night games here, so I'm into those."


During the hour-plus visit, a truly unexpected performance with bagpipes broke out at midfield. Yes, bagpipes.


170824_Knox_Grammar_School 140 400.jpgAt one end of the pitch (playing field), someone from Knox had brought their bagpipes to life in what appeared to be an outdoor shed. That's when Rice freshman offensive lineman Gregor MacKellar, who is from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, mentioned he played the bagpipes. A few minutes later MacKellar started belting out some really good bagpipe music.


MacKellar said he has been playing bagpipes for 12 years and has played in pipe bands and in solo competitions. "I'm currently a grade one player," he said. With that, he turned the grass playing field into a musician's stage, and everyone looked on and loved it. Watch the daily video above to see MacKellar's talents.


At the end of the Rice football clinic, each of the 120 students who participated received four tickets to Sunday's Rice-Stanford game.


170824_Weight_Training_Rugby_Club 016 400.jpgAt about the same time the Rice-Knox event was wrapping up, the rest of the Owls were taking turns visiting the New South Wales' Waratahs rugby facility to put in weight-lifting sessions, a part of the training routine that Bailiff said the team was maintaining in Sydney.


Later in the day, Bryan Blair, senior associate athletic director for sport administration and compliance, and Jennifer Brydon, senior manager of international advising and programs, represented Rice and were joined by Oliver Luck, executive vice president of regulatory affairs at the NCAA, for an Education USA, NCAA and Rice University outreach event at Endeavor Sports High. The trio spoke to a group of coaches, administrators, students and parents about the opportunities for international students to earn scholarships at NCAA schools. The event provided insight into what international students must go through to be accepted into an NCAA institution.


Sports HS1 400.jpg"To get here and see how eager everyone was to ask questions, to get knowledge and see how excited they are about sports in the United States, it was energizing," Blair said. "I was glad to help and spread knowledge about what we do and how we do it and to help spread the word about NCAA competition."

With another full day in the books, the Owls were treated to an evening out at Manly Beach. Being that it's winter here and the sun was already going down at 5:30 p.m. when the bus departed from the team's hotel, the team didn't go there for the sand and surf; rather, they went for the shopping and dining on Manly's boardwalk.


Today's quick takes:


Rice University President David Leebron and University Representative Y. Ping Sun will arrive in Sydney Friday and attend various meetings. They will also make a visit to the University of Sydney with a few Rice football players. We'll have coverage of that tomorrow.


All of us here in Sydney are aware of the impending weather situation back home in Houston, and Athletics officials are in communication with Rice's Crisis Management Team regarding the situation.

View more photos from the Owls' third day in Sydney by using the arrows below in the Flickr gallery.

Owls take international football clinic on the road

Owls up to speed on second day in Sydney

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It appeared that the Rice football coaches' goal of breaking the jet lag from the long journey to Australia by keeping everyone up yesterday worked as planned; the Owls woke up Wednesday refreshed and ready to go.

The morning started off with team meetings at the team hotel and a hot breakfast before heading back to the David Phillips Sports Complex on the campus of the University of New South Wales for a second day of practice and a full day's worth of activities. The team will practice every day leading up to Sunday's (Saturday in the U.S.) Sydney Cup game against Stanford; tomorrow they'll add a weight-lifting session at a rugby training facility.


Today the Owls welcomed Nick Walshaw to the team's practice. Walshaw, who is a journalist with the Daily Telegraph, is covering the team for the rest of the week. Walshaw almost exclusively covers the National Rugby League. As he explained, rugby is the national sport "if you ask people here in Sydney," he said. "Now, if you ask people in Melbourne, they will tell you Australian Rules Football." The 16-team rugby league is winding down and will be having their playoffs in the coming weeks, so he was glad to get a break and cover us for a little bit, he said.


Other media covering today's practice were Jodie Newell and Tom Ramsey with ESPN. Ramsey will provide commentary on the network's coverage of the Rice-Stanford game noon Sunday (9 p.m. CDT Saturday in the U.S.) at Allianz Stadium.  


170823_Practice2_University_Sydney_Tour_RoundTable_Dinner 345 400.jpgAlso attending practice were Stephen and Tonya Trammell, the parents of freshman wide receiver and punt returner Austin Trammell. Along with a group of approximately 40 other Rice Owl parents, the Trammells arrived in Sydney this morning.


"We were absolutely blown away that Rice would be featured on this level," Stephen Trammell said. "Being here today watching the team practice is so surreal for us -- that we're actually in Sydney, Australia; it's a great way for him (Austin) to start his college career."


Head coach David Bailiff liked what he saw out of his Rice players today.


"It's really been outstanding," Bailiff said. "I'm impressed with how the team got up this morning. We've attacked the day -- you can't tell we had the long flight. I think these guys did a great job of being accountable to themselves on getting the sleep they needed and getting hydrated.


"The trip was more like a day of fog," he said. "We're back in our routine now. Routine is very important in football; your position meetings start at this time, you're on a bus at a certain time, so we're on our Sydney routine now and that feels good for all of us.


"Yesterday it was 102 degrees in Houston, so this is really nice to hit this cool climate and no humidity. That helps them out here too," Bailiff said.


After practice the team ate lunch at the practice facility, showered up and got ready for events at their next stop, the University of Sydney.


team pic ASYD 400.jpgUpon arriving at the university, the team posed for a group photo in front of the main campus building, which led into the unique academic quad where the team would break into groups and start a walking tour of campus. The quadrangle's architecture was inspired by Oxford and Cambridge universities -- so much so that the architecture is evenly split in half, with one side representing Oxford and the other Cambridge.


Sydney Uni, as they often refer to the school, was founded in 1850 and was Australia's first university. Currently, 60,000 students attend classes in the university system, and they represent more than 130 countries; foreign students make up 30 percent of the student body. No fewer than five Australian prime ministers attended the university, including Edmund Barton, who in 1901 won Australia's first-ever federal election.


After the tour, the team gathered into a classic lecture hall, where Sydney-based U.S. Consulate General Valerie Fowler welcomed Rice to Sydney and the university. Fowler, who is an unabashed Stanford alumna, said she would be rooting for the Cardinal but also pointed out that Rice beat Stanford in 2003 to win the national championship in baseball. Fowler also explained her nonpartisan role in representing the United States in this part of the world and spoke of the wonderful relationship the U.S. and Australia share.


JK panel 400.jpgFollowing Fowler's introduction, Wayne Cotton, associate dean for the School of Education and Social Work, led a panel on American and Australian college sports. On the panel were Oliver Luck, executive vice president of regulatory affairs with the NCAA; Joe Karlgaard, Rice's director of athletics; Rob Smithies, executive director of Sydney University Sport and Fitness; and Leonie Lum, elite program manager, Sydney University Sport and Fitness.


The panel touched on a variety of topics, including the role the NCAA plays in regulating the 24 sports it oversees for its members, emerging sports in the United States, amateurism in sports, health and safety issues, scholarships, the 20-hour rule (amount of time student-athletes can be assigned to participate in sports activities) and managing student-athletes' time, among other things.


After the panel, the team was treated to dinner in the quad with members of the panel and University of Sydney faculty, students and staff.


Quick takes from Wednesday in Sydney:


Rice University photographer Tommy LaVergne shot these pictures from the team's hotel this morning.


Graduate safety Cole Thomas and freshman wide receiver Jordan Myers appeared live tonight nationally on the "Bill and Boz" television show.


Tomorrow senior center Trey Martin and senior linebacker Emmanuel Ellerbee will appear nationally on the Australian version of the Today Show.


Junior punter Jack Fox and senior fullback Paine Matiscik will appear live tomorrow on the Footy Show, which is on Fox Sports Australia.

View more photos from the Owls' second day in Sydney by using the arrows below in the Flickr gallery.

Day two: Owls in Sydney Aug. 23

Touch down in Sydney

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After departing campus Sunday at 2 p.m. CDT for Australia to prepare for next weekend's season opening football game against Stanford in the Sydney Cup, the Rice Owls endured what is likely the farthest any college football team has traveled for a home game -- and it might be the farthest a team has traveled for a game, period. Between the over-three-hour flight from Houston to Los Angeles and then the nearly 15-hour flight from L.A. to Sydney, the Owls took comfort in the 51-degree weather when they arrived in Australia's largest city Tuesday morning.


When the team arrived in Sydney, things started off on a positive note: They were pleasantly surprised to clear though customs in a matter of minutes, which led them to load up on four buses and head out for a full day's worth of activities ahead of schedule.


To help prepare the team to beat jet lag, the strength-and-conditioning football coaches formulated a plan for the team to follow leading up to and throughout the trip. According to assistant director Bret Huth, who was with the Cal Bears staff when they traveled to Sydney last year for the inaugural Sydney Cup, it included wearing compression pants, getting the team to exercise a few times throughout the flight and getting their bodies to adjust immediately to Sydney's clock.


"The most important thing to prevent further sleep debt after the transition is to get their circadian rhythm set to Australian Eastern Standard Time as soon as possible," Huth said.

To do that, Huth said, they wanted the players to start using the clock like they were already in Sydney. "We wanted them in the mind-set that it was Sydney time in L.A."


That meant keeping the players up for the first half of that flight before letting them sleep. It also included having the players do stretches and laps around the plane to keep them limber and to prevent any possible clotting issues in the legs and ankle swelling. The team did laps in Sydney time at 7:15 p.m. Monday and 4:30 a.m. Tuesday in the sprawling United Airlines 787-9 Dreamliner. Watch a video of Rice's Los Angeles-to-Sydney plane trip, which includes footage of the workout  at 38,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean.


170820_Football_Syndey_Arrival_first_Practice 212 400.jpgAfter leaving Sydney Airport at 8:15 a.m., the team took about a 25-minute drive in rush-hour traffic to David Phillips Sports Complex on the campus of the University of New South Wales for a 12-period practice. The university, which is more than 60 years old, has nearly 53,000 students, and the sports complex accommodates 40 clubs and 5,000 athletes, according to its director, Craig Davis. That includes tennis, 15 field hockey teams, 25 football (soccer) teams, five gridiron (American football) teams, eight Australian rules teams, five baseball teans, five rugby teams and cricket. Davis is a footballer himself. He played in the Australian Rules Football league for 16 years, including appearing in nine Grand Finals, "or as you Americans call it, 'Super Bowls,'" he said.


After getting the team's mind off the just-completed long journey and their bodies stretched out and loose again, head coach David Bailiff attended an 11 a.m. Australian government press conference, where the Sydney Opera House was used as a backdrop to welcome the Owls and Stanford Cardinal. Joining Bailiff were sophomore running back Nahshon Ellerbe and punter Jack Fox.


As the Sydney Morning Herald reported:

As the Opera House shimmered in the background overlooking the sunshine-soaked harbour, Stanford and Rice universities were welcomed Down Under by a joey (young kangaroo) and a koala to begin preparations for Sunday's second Sydney Bowl. ...


Ellerbe Fox and Roo400.jpgThey'll spend the week practicing for their season opener, but also taking in the sights and sounds a late winter in Sydney has to offer.


"Just look at this. I think I'm changing where I'm going to retire. I've been here five hours and already I'm thinking I've got to consider Sydney," Bailiff said overlooking the harbour after his side touched down in Australia on Tuesday morning.


"You look at the backdrop of this place, driving over here, just the architecture downtown, how it's so much old and so much new and it's all blended," he said. 

While Bailiff was meeting with the media, the Owls got checked in at the team hotel, which is centrally located near Hyde Park, and got a much-deserved break to freshen up, get devices charged up and get online to report back home.


170822_Harbor_Dinner_Cruise 326 400.jpgIn the evening the team, coaches, staff and Owl supporters shoved off for a dinner cruise in Sydney Harbour, passing by the world-famous Sydney Opera House and the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, the sixth-longest spanning-arch bridge in the world and the tallest steel arch bridge, measuring 440 feet from its top to water level. It was also the world's widest long-span bridge, at 160 feet wide, until construction of the new Port Mann Bridge in Vancouver was completed in 2012, according to Wikipedia. A quick trivia question: How many different types of fish can be found in Sydney Harbour? The answer appears at the end of this post.


The team enjoyed a buffet of beef, chicken, ham, rolls, potato salad, shrimp, vegetable medley and salad, a fairly traditional meal, but that could change tomorrow. (We'll wait for tomorrow to report more on that.)

On that note, a couple of quick hits.


The Owls will hold another practice tomorrow, tour the University of Sydney, have a meal and attend a panel featuring the NCAA's Oliver Luck and Rice Director of Athletics Joe Karlgaard.


Hat tip to hometown TV: KPRC and KTRK did nice, quick reports on the Owls departing Rice for Sydney. Bailiff comments in both. Watch the KPRC clip here and the KTRK clip here.


The Associated Press recapped our events today with this story: "No rest for jet-lagged Rice: Straight to practice Down Under."


And the answer to the trivia question: According to the Australian Broadcasting Company, 586 different species of fish can be found in Sydney Harbour.

View more photos from the Owls' first day in Sydney by using the arrows below in the Flickr gallery.

Owls touch down in Sydney

The Rice Owls football team will open the 2017 season more than 8,500 miles away from Houston as the "home team" at Allianz Stadium when they face the Stanford Cardinal in the second annual Sydney Cup in Australia Aug. 27 (Aug. 26 in the United States).


The Owls closed last season losing on the road to Stanford 41-17, but before this back-to-back matchup, the teams hadn't played each other since 1964.


The game in Sydney will mark the first football game Rice has played outside the United States in its more than 100-year history.


"When (Athletic Director) Joe Karlgaard first asked me about moving the game to Australia, I thought, 'God, it's going to be 125 degrees in Houston, which is a home-field advantage,'" said head football coach David Bailiff. "But then you get to thinking that it will be an incredible experience for these young men, not just to go play a football game but to go to a different continent, a different culture. With what they are going to learn when they are there, it's worth moving a home game to do that."


He jokingly added, "I would guess that our trip to Australia is probably the longest road trip in the history of the world, and then we have the shortest road trip in the history of the world: We're going to Australia to play Stanford and then we load up the bus to play across town (5 miles) against the University of Houston."


The Owls will depart Houston Aug. 20 on a more than three-hour flight to Los Angeles, where they will have a short layover before taking a 15-hour flight to Sydney. The team will lose a day and arrive in Australia Tuesday morning, Aug. 22.


"I've never traveled outside the country, so I'm really excited," said senior linebacker Emmanuel Ellerbee. "I can't wait to see what their culture is all about. I really want to see how they live and compare it with my own (way of life). I can't wait to have this experience."


media day kprc 500.jpgTo prepare for the early start to the season and the unusually long travel for their first game, the Owls opened summer camp a week early and have been preparing the student-athletes not only for football on the field but the long flight and the visit to a foreign country.


Last year the University of California beat the University of Hawaii in the first Sydney Cup 51-31. As part of his preparation for Sydney, Bailiff tapped former Cal head coach Sonny Dykes for some advice.


"Cal went last year, so I've been on the phone with Sonny Dykes to find out some of the mistakes that they made so that we wouldn't make the same mistakes," Bailiff said. "We know to get our guys compression pants. We have a walk and stretch schedule on the airplane because of the length of the trip."

Head football trainer Brad Kimble said, "As far as hydration and that type of prep, we're in our normal camp prep already. We'll continue to practice the good habits that we encourage all of the time.


"As for the flight, it's relatively natural to get dehydrated on a flight, so we're preparing food packets and making sure they'll have access to plenty of liquids on the flight," he said. "Plus we'll be monitoring them closely throughout the trip."


The players, coaches and staff will be encouraged to get some sleep on the flight, especially the second half, because once they arrive in Sydney at 6:45 a.m. Aug. 22, they will have a full day of events in hopes of adjusting to the time difference as quickly as possible.


While in Sydney the Owls will attend a welcoming news conference, enjoy a dinner cruise, visit and tour the University of Sydney, meet with Australian media, visit a rugby training facility, visit a grammar school for a football skills demonstration and, of course, hold football practices.


"This is going to be an incredible opportunity for this football team," Bailiff said. "Not only are we going play a football game, but we've teamed up with the University of Sydney. We're going to spend a day with them after practice talking about the Australian educational system."


Leading into the historic trip, the team received a crash course on what to expect during their six days in Sydney from Jae Cross, a former standout on the Australian women's national basketball team who currently serves as the head women's coach at University of St. Thomas in Houston. Cross previously served as an assistant coach at Rice for seven seasons. Watch a video of her visit here.

While the Owls are down under, stories, video and photography will be posted daily on Rice Athletics' The R-blog, along on Athletics' social media sites Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.


The football game, which will be at noon Aug. 27 in Sydney (9 p.m. CDT Aug. 26 in the United States), will be televised nationally on ESPN.

Use the right arrow button to scroll through the Flickr photo gallery.

Rice football prepares for Australia

Senior Reflection: Darik Dillard

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As his former teammates continue to prepare for the next chapter in their Rice career's, Darik Dillard reflects on his journey from high school recruit to Rice graduate, four-time letter winner and one of the top 10 rushers in school history

Coming into Rice University, I really just had the high school mindset of I'm going to come in, take three years and then I'm going to go pro.

But after finishing my first summer and then my first year as a freshman, I realized three things: I had to be flexible, I learned the power of surrendering and all my successes and triumphs were a team effort.

Dillard Baylor 2016 blog.jpg

Your Rice career teaches you these things.

It sounds so cliché but people told me you have to be really good at managing your time. And that's something I learned throughout my entire time at Rice. Having football practices and 8 a.m. classes, every time-gap had to be utilized well. This would carry me into my professional life, into my social life and one day, when I become a husband or father.

I also learned the power of surrendering.

As a student-athlete, you go through a lot of hard times. Being a student-athlete in general, you go through a lot of suffering, a lot of long nights studying and preparing for tests that you know you're going to fail, doing projects where your other teammates aren't helping you or you can't help your teammates. But you realize, every success and triumph is a team effort--in the classroom or on the field.

You have a class that you individually take or if you play a singular sport you have an idea of what you need to do. Despite that singular play, you realize when you reach those points of success and triumph and you recognize all the individuals with you-that helped you along through your good and bad times.

I've had a number of people, especially at Rice University, that helped me through those difficult times to realize those three things: flexibility, the power of surrendering and success and triumph are team efforts. 





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