Dec. 11, 2013
David Bailiff, who lead Rice to its first outright conference title in football since 1957, has been named the 2013 Conference USA Coach of the year in voting by the league's 14 head coaches. This is the second time Bailiff has been honored by his peers. He was also named the league's top coach in 2008.
Rice reached itsfirst C-USA Championship Game as West Division Champions with a 7-1, rebounding from a loss on Halloween at North Texas to win its last three games. They clinched the West with a 17-13 win over Tulane on November 30 and then captured the conference crown with a 41-24 victory over Marshall in the C-USA title game at Rice Stadium.
The win over Marshall was the Owls' 10th this year, matching the school record. Legendary head coach Jess Neely's 1949 squad set the record, finishing with a 10-1 record, while Bailiff led Rice to a 10-3 mark in 2008.
During his seven years as the Owls head coach, Bailiff has led Rice to three bowl games, including the first back-to-back postseason appearances since 1960-61. The Owls won the 2008 Texas Bowl and the 2012 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. Neely is the only other Rice mentor to guide the team to multiple postseason appearances.
Rice owns the top rushing offense in Conference USA, averaging 240.9 yards per game, and has the second-ranked unit in total defense, surrendering 352.6 yards per outing. The Owls are fourth in C-USA in scoring defense at 22.9 points per game, down 7.1 points from last season. In going 6-0 at home this season, Rice allowed an average of 14.3 points per game (86 total).
The Owls have won 15 of their last 18 games dating back to a 44-17 win over Southern Miss at Rice Stadium on Oct. 27, 2012. That is the best stretch since the Owls won 15-of-17 from Nov. 8, 1952 to Oct. 2, 1954. Rice's three losses this season have come to bowl teams (Texas A&M, Houston, North Texas). With seven wins last year, the Owls have won 17 over a two-year period for just the second time in school history. Jimmy Kitts was 17-4-1 in his first two years as the head coach of the Owls in 1934-35.
Under Bailiff's direction, the Owls placed a league-high 10 players on the C-USA All-Conference team, including five first team and five second team selections. The 10 All-Conference members were the most by Rice since producing 12 in the Southwest Conference in 1993.
In addition to the accomplishments on the field this season, Rice's football program was honored along with Tulane, Stanford and Georgia as the winners of the 2013 AFCA Academic Achievement Award, which honors schools with a 100 percent graduation rate. This is the second time in the last four years that Rice has shared this award (2010 with Northwestern).
Bailiff will lead Rice in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl Tuesday, Dec. 31, in Memphis, Tenn., against Mississippi State. Kickoff is slated for 3 p.m. CST on ESPN.