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.
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'
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.
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?
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.
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.
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).
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. "
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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
"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,"
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.
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."
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 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.
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,
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
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.
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."
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
"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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Reilly 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.
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
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
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
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!
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:
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
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
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#.