September 20, 2003
Why does Rice play Texas?

Rice renews its rivalry with the Texas Longhorns tonight in the first game of a six-year series, to be played at Reliant Stadium. The Chron's Mickey Herskowitz reminisces about the 1994 Rice win over UT, in a game that was played in a nasty thunderstorm. Herskowitz speculates that the Owls would be perfectly happy to get those same game conditions this time around, but alas, Reliant has a little feature which makes the point moot.

Game time is 8:22 PM CDT on ESPN2. Be there!

Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 20, 2003 to Other sports | TrackBack

I just got back from the game, and had a fabulous time. At halftime, the MOB did spoof on redistricting, Kuff, complete with a giant Texas Capitol building. (Well, I say giant — obviously it wasn't as big as the real one. I may have some pix up by tomorrow on my website.) I wish I had had a pen — but as best I recall, the best line of the MOB's show was something about how the last time the Texas Legislature was this confused, Baylor ended up getting admitted to the Big 12.

Also at halftime, the Rice baseball team — 2003 College World Series Champions, who defeated Texas en route to that title — were individually introduced to sustained, standing-ovation applause from the entire crowd. Very, very classy, I thought, since the UT fans outnumbered the Rice fans there at least 3 to 1.

This whole series is marked by really good sportsmanship on both sides. Possibly the fact that it's rarely a competitive game contributes to that, I dunno. For Texas it's always a tune-up game, with the risk of an embarrassing loss if they don't take it seriously enough. Rice, by contrast, usually plays over their heads and quite often makes a closer game of it than would be predicted. (Tonight wasn't close, though, probably because the 'Horns were coming off the loss to Arkansas and were in a take-no-prisoners mood.)

And therein lies the answer to your question:   the ticket revenues from this game put the Rice Athletic Department in the black for the year, I'll wager. (Which is why the game was moved to Reliant and a substantial "Burnt Orange" surcharge added to the ticket price.) Next year they'll get half the gate at Memorial Stadium in Austin, which is probably an even bigger windfall.

Posted by: Beldar on September 21, 2003 1:07 AM

Hmmm... so did we all enjoy the game??? :-P

Hook 'em =)

Posted by: ByronUT on September 21, 2003 4:20 AM

The line about Baylor was "The last time the Governor got involved in redistricting, Baylor wound up in the Big XII". I know, I wrote it. :-) You must have missed my bio, Beldar - I've been in the MOB since 1988. I was the sax player who forgot to bring his vest to the game.

The UT fans were definitely classy about applauding for the Rice baseball team. You couldn't have asked for better sportsmanship.

"Why does Rice play Texas" is from a speech given by President Kennedy at Rice Stadium in 1962 to advocate sending a man to the moon.

But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain. Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?

We played a video clip of that at the start of our show, as the MOB moved into a dollar sign formation. It got a nice laugh. (Kennedy's answer, btw, was "We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too." A bit wordy for our purposes.)

Glad you enjoyed the show! UT is always our best audience, and we were all happy with how this one turned out. (The game, well, these things happen.)

Oh, and I actually meant the title of this post as a riff on the Kennedy line. Yeah, I know - way obscure. For the record, and despite yesterday's result, I'm perfectly happy that Rice plays Texas, whatever the reason for it may be.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on September 21, 2003 9:03 AM

Mea culpa x 2 ... I did read the bio and had heard the JFK line, but failed to recall either. This is probably a function of being born in the month of Sputnik and the consequential memory degradation over time.

I'd love to see the whole script from the performance. I saw that the MOB's website has some past scripts, but nothing so new.

Texas has had plenty of college baseball glory. Once the Owls eliminated UT from the CWS, I think UT fans pretty much transferred their affections en masse to the Owls for the remainder of the season. The Rice win was no fluke; they were a scrappy team that definitely earned it, and the fact that the Rice Owls beat the Stanford Cardinal two-outta-three for the championship was just too delicious for words -- very Chariots of Fire-like.

Posted by: Beldar on September 22, 2003 9:03 AM

I'll have to inquire as to when the script archive should be updated, and I'll add it to the comments here when I find out. Thanks for pointing this out.

The Rice baseball team definitely seemed to pick up a lot of support from other former SWC schools as they progressed through the playoffs and CWS last year. We got a ton of congratulatory messages on our fan boards, especially from UH and UT fans, after the Stanford victory. That was really cool.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on September 22, 2003 9:43 AM