For Rice fans, each spring brings a myriad of opportunities to see our various teams in competition. However, the spring calendar does not always offer a bountiful section of dates on which to schedule these events without inevitable overlaps.
This coming weekend represents a Perfect Storm of sorts, with a number of events butting up against each other, forcing our fans to choose between events they would like to see in person.
Many have asked both publicly and privately how could this came to be. Hopefully, this blog will provide some background to tie together some loose ends to better illustrate how we arrived at the weekend before us.
So, "How did it come to this?"
The answer crosses over into a variety of areas and disciplines, none of which are purposely attempting to conflict with each other. Bottom Line? There are more events than available open dates and no two of the various entities constructs its schedule in the same manner or time frame.
The start of classes almost immediately after the first of the year translates into an early conclusion to the semester, which tightens up the available spring weekends before the first event is ever scheduled.
Some sports have traditional weekends slotted for their events, such as the Victor Lopez Classic, which always falls the weekend prior to the Texas Relays. Moving to another weekend is never an option, because the spring track calendar is set in stone. Others such as baseball, have their schedules assigned by the conference, with some considerations granted to special requests from schools regarding particular dates. But even then control and flexibility are limited.
Football's spring practice schedule must be wedged into the grid to allow for a productive cycle of winter strength training that commences as soon as possible after the start of the semester and ends as close to the start of Spring Practice (while allowing for Spring Break). You must then find enough available days for a consistent schedule of practices to allow for maximum productivity from the regulated amount of time they have on the field. This schedule is further impacted by any coaching staff changes, in order to allow new staff members time to prepare for their first spring with their position groups.
The Spring Game, which for many years represented the conclusion of drills, has been retained as a weekend event and the game time has been set in order to allow fans as well as friends and families of the players the best the opportunity to see their Owls. The Owls will actually hold two additional practices next week to allow them to utilize the full allotment of practices per the NCAA. This year, it's on Friday in order to avoid a Saturday conflict with Beer Bike and also allow for the Letterman's Golf Tournament at Wildcat, which was only available on Saturday.
In three of the last four springs, the additional element of the NCAA Men's Basketball events (which were co-hosted by Rice Athletics), made it essential to avoid as many overlaps as possible on the weekend of that event, since many department employees were also tasked with oversight in specific areas connected to the production and management of that prestigious event.
When you add in spring break, traditional campus events such as this weekend's Beer Bike, spring recess (which eliminated last weekend as a possible date for football) and the lateness of the Easter holiday, it made the confluence of events that dominate this weekend unavoidable.
We understand the frustrations for fans who have to make choices between events. It's a logistical challenge for many of our own personnel, but it's a part of the job.
To help you plan your weekend, here's a quick review of the schedule this weekend, with start times for each event, as well as the time that the parking gates will open.
Friday, March 30:
West Lot 4 opens at 5:30 PM
Baseball vs. Southern Miss: 6:30 (Reckling Park)
Football Spring Game: 7:00 (Rice Stadium)
Saturday, March 31
West Lot opens at 1:00
Women's Tennis vs. Missouri 2 p.m. (Jake Hess)
Baseball vs. Southern Miss 3:30 pm (Reckling Park)
Sunday, April 1
West Lot opens at 10 a.m.
Football Banquet 11 a.m. (Tudor Fieldhouse)
Women's Tennis vs. Tulsa 11 a.m. (Jake Hess)
Baseball vs. Southern Miss 1:00 pm (Reckling Park)