The 2011 Rice football home finale marks the 45th anniversary of the final home game for the most storied coach in Owls history, Jess Neely.
Neely had come to Rice in 1940 and had guided the Owls through several generations of changes to the football landscape. When he arrived, the Owls were squeezing fans into makeshift additional seating a Rice Field, located on the corner of University and Main. He guided the program through a world war, and then led the Owls to multiple Southwest Conference titles, trips to the Orange, Cotton and Sugar Bowls, and multiple finishes in the national top ten.
Along the way, his success spurred the construction of a new showplace for his team, Rice Stadium, which rose out of the ground on the far western edge of the Rice campus in a matter of months during the spring and summer of 1950.
Neely announced prior to the 1966 season that he would be stepping away from the sidelines. His final Rice team presented him an early going away present, downing and LSU squad that had played in the Cotton Bowl the year before, 17-15.
But the Owls fell on hard times over the next seven weeks, dropping all seven games. A 7-6 loss to Texas A&M on November 12, meant that when the Owls took the field for their final home game the following week against TCU, they had one last chance to allow their head coach the chance to walk off the Rice Stadium field a winner.
Here's the way the immortal Kern Tipps described the Owls 21-10 victory, the last of Neely's 144 wins with the Owls.