A Blog devoted to all things SWC, the greatest college athletic conference. Updated weekly with the SWC Game of the Week during football season. Other relevant SWC News will appear from time to time as well.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

SWC Game of the Week: Houston at Rice

Welcome to the 2006 edition of the Southwest Conference Game of the Week! This week’s match-up is the University of Houston Cougars visiting the Rice Owls for the Bayou Bucket.

Rice opens the Todd Graham era after a disappointing 2005 season that ended with head coach Ken Hatfield resigning. Rice finished last year 1-10 and looks to rebound with a new offensive system. Instead of the run oriented wishbone, run by Hatfield, Todd Graham will install a spread offense with lots of passes. The player to watch for Rice will be QB Chase Clement.

Houston meanwhile has high hopes in 2005 and a run at the Conference USA title. Head Coach Art Briles enters his 4th year after leading the Cougars to a 6-6 2005 season, ending in a disappointing loss to Kansas in the Fort Worth Bowl. Senior QB Kevin Kolb, a 4 year starter, is the active NCAA leader in total offense, passing yards, pass completions and total plays.

One interesting note, both coaches have coached Texas High School football, Graham at Allen High Schol and Briles at Stephenville High School.

UH joined the SWC in 1972 while Rice University was a charter member in 1914. UH won the first meeting in 1971 23-21 at Rice Stadium in front on 62,000 fans. UH beat Rice last year 35-13 with Rice last winning in 2004 10-7. On December 1st, 1995, Rice and Houston played the last SWC football game, with Houston winning 18-17. They started playing for the “Bayou Bucket” in 1974 and Houston leads the all time series 21-8. Below is an exert from the Rice Media Guide about the history of the Bayou Bucket.

When Fred Curry, a Rice guard during the Jess Neely era, became president of the Houston Touchdown Club in 1974, the blue blood in his veins began to surface. He wanted to do something to build some interest in the Rice-University of Houston football series.

“We need something to symbolize the rivalry with some kind of object,” he told Phil Gemmer, the immediate past president, “but I
don’t know what it would be.”

“Well,” said the innovative Gemmer, “Purdue and Indiana play for the Old Oaken Bucket. It was a tradition before the Four Horsemen.”

“You got it,” responded Curry triumphantly. “We’ll have a bucket and design a trophy.”

Gemmer agreed that it was a super idea and laid the project in Curry’s lap. Curry’s work was just beginning when he put the package together. First, he got the approval of UH’s Bill Yeoman and Rice’s Al Conover, the head coaches at the time at the two schools. Then it had to be cleared through the club’s board of directors.

“I had a meeting of the board at my home,” recalls Curry, “and we kicked around 60 or 70 names trying to find something that would rhyme with bucket. “Finally Del Womack said, ‘What is Houston noted for?’ I said, ‘Dirty bayous.’ Bayou Bucket, perfect name.”

The scene shifted to New Braunfels in the summer of 1974. The Currys were on vacation and browsing around antique shops. A big, beat-up bucket caught Curry’s eye. At $60, Curry thought he got a bargain. He took it to a local trophy shop, drew a picture of what he wanted, and gave instructions to smooth out some of the creases. Buck Sloan, who owned the business and was himself a Rice man, painstakingly built the Bayou Bucket on an ornate base and threw in some added embellishments. The total cost: $310.

Note: This story on the Bayou Bucket was written by Jack Agness and appeared in the Houston Post . Agness, who covered Rice for the Post until his
retirement in 1984, passed away in 1994. The Post ceased publication in April1995.

Other Notable SWC games this week:
TCU @ Baylor
SMU @ Texas Tech

Friday, August 25, 2006

Rebuild New Orleans??

So, should they rebuild New Orleans? This is another point addressed in the article referenced two blogs ago.

Yes. The fact is the civil engineering of the levees worked, or should have worked. They failed because of faulting design and construction. But the water did not go over them. The residents were right to trust the levees. They should have worked.

Now, why put a city below sea level. Well, not all of New Orleans is below sea level, and some of New Orleans that flooded was above sea level. New Orleans itself is not in swamp country, that is farther south. Now, the levees built upstream and ecological impacts along the Mississippi River (all the way to Minn.) is another debate that doesn't, in my opinion, include having a city where New Orleans is located.

Why build cities in California? The threat of a major earthquake exists everyday, without warning that a hurricane gives. The devastation from "the big one" in a city such as San Francisco or LA is devastating. But yet we trust engineers to design buildings that are safe if an earthquake hits.

Miami sits, waiting for a destruction of a hurricane. A hurricane could hit Houston and knock out oil and gas production that fuels much of this country.

The debate reminds me of a time in college when they were going to build a tunnel under a road and railroad track to ease the walk from one side of campus to the other. The thought was it would fill up with water when it rains. We laughed, thinking, umm, we can design tunnels to drain. Engineering can protect cities to a certain extent. The tragedy of New Orleans is the protection system was not overcome by mother nature, but failed due to faulty engineering.

Crescent City Update

Since there is some debate about race in New Orleans and Katrina, here is the quote from the article referenced...

You may also think that poor, black New Orleanians constituted the majority of victims killed by the Corps’ incompetence. In fact, white and black, rich and poor, New Orleanians shared equally in the suffering and death. The last published tally I saw showed that whites and blacks died in roughly the same proportion. If that is accurate, given that the population of the city in the last census was only 28-percent white, white New Orleanians died in proportionately higher numbers.

Hope that clears it up.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Crescent City

You probably can't read this as it is a Times Select article, but John Biguenet is doing a blog of sorts. He is writing articles about moving back into his home in New Orleans after the flood. He has it right when he says that what destroyed New Orleans wasn't a hurricane, but the US Army Corp of Engineers.

The flood waters did not come over the levees, the levees failed. As a civil engineer I think this is deplorable. A failure of a civil engineering structure has destroyed a city and countless lives. Why isn't ASCE or other national civil engineering organizations speaking out on this? How was the Corp allowed to make a mistake? What part of their mistake was bad engineering, bad management, or bad construction? What part of the design was subbed out to other firms? What part did budget play in design decisions?

Will we have these answers? If a building fell down would there be more outrage of the failure of the engineering?

Sunday, August 20, 2006


Remember the Southwest Conference? For 81 years (1914-1996) it was the conference for most of the major colleges in Texas. Members included Arkansas, Baylor, Houston, Rice, SMU, Texas, Texas A&M, TCU, and Texas Tech. The league started to break apart when Arkansas left for the SEC in 1992, then disbanded completely in 1996 when Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor and Texas Tech joined the Big 8 to become the Big 12.

I grew up watching the SWC Game of the Week on Raycom Sports. Of course the season was highlighted on Jan. 1st and the Cotton Bowl game featuring the league champion. I'll honestly say that I'd rather watch a match up of former SWC foes than Kansas vs. Nebraska. I have no connection to the old Big 8 teams in the Big 12. (even though Oklahoma and Oklahoma St were charter members of the SWC before leaving just a few years later.)

Well, this year, I plan on having a SWC Game of the Week, hosted here on this blog. Look next week for the first matchup. Just one more weekend without football!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Thoughts from Vacation

I'll share some thoughts from our vacation while they are still fresh. We were two nights in Boston, 3 nights in Southwest Harbor in Acadia, Maine, and 3 nights in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. Acadia National Park is awesome, Boothbay Harbor is a tourist trap. Anyway, I didn't think of any of y'all for a week, so HA!

  • The girl in the room next to us in Boston, nice performance. We could still hear you down the hall at the elevator.
  • The North End of Boston sucks. Apparently Italian food is a new thing in Boston. We didn't eat any as we got fed up and walked back to McCormick and Schmidt.
  • Boston is small.
  • There are alot of fat people out there traveling the roads.
  • The Atlantic Ocean in Maine is like ice water. It hurts your feet. That's all that got in.
  • I really enjoy hiking. (No one else in my family does, but I do.)
  • There is no end to the amount of crap people will buy because they are on vacation.
  • There is one store in Maine that repeats itself in every Maine town.
  • Dinner reservations should not be required when dining in Boothbay Harbor.
  • If you want a lobster, go to a lobster pound, cheap and relaxed.
  • Lobster is over-rated. (They used to feed it to prisoners and only poor people ate it.)
  • Lesbians enjoy Maine. (I'm guessing, but there's lots of them up there.)
  • People at B&B's will talk to you to hear themselves talk at breakfast. Best to eat isolated, outside.
  • I think our innkeeper killed his first wife and stuffed her somewhere. (I've seen Misery.)
  • The Mass. Turnpike sucks. SUCKS! 45 minutes to go 15 miles westbound today when we bailed out. In the middle of no where. SUCKS! We were o.k. coming into Boston on Friday afternoon, but not going west on Sat. afternoon. I hate the Red Sox now because of the Mass. Turnpike.
  • Tolls really slow down interstate traffic. Something should be done about this. Why does it work in NJ but not elsewhere in the NE?
  • Texans, get ready for toll roads.
  • The Mass. Turnpike is ridiculous stretch of road. Do people do that every weekend?
  • We are learning our way around NYC, which is pretty remarkable considering we've driven in the city like 5 times. We took a detour today, in the Bronx! It was like Bonefire of the Vanities.
  • Friday quitting time at the Bath Iron Works is quite the site.
  • Cool things people in Maine say, "wicked for very", "Bah Hahbah for Bar Harbor"
  • Maine people really aren't that friendly.

It was a nice trip. If you are going to Maine and you want my opinion, feel free to drop me a line. I'd avoid I-90, i.e. Mass Turnpike, westbound if you can.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Heat Wave, NYC Style

So, as I'm sure y'all have heard, we have had a "heat wave" here in NY. We did not get over 100, despite forecasts for 104 some days. Tuesday we were 95, Wednesday 97 and today 98. Hot, but for someone from Texas, not that hot.

I've made some observations about this heat wave from the perspective of someone that grew up in an area that is this hot for 3 months, not 3 days. First, power shortages. I can't believe that when it gets above 95 Coned can't keep the power on. Ridiculous. I worked this afternoon in the dark. The turned off the lights at work to conserve energy. Ridiculous. At the Yankee game they turned off the out of town scoreboard, and they haven't been lighting up the Empire State Building. Second, this demonstrates that it is not news, until it happens in NY. We watch Good Morning America while we get ready in the morning. California has had terrible heat for about a month now. They would mention this on GMA. But 3 days of hot in NY brings out the doctors with tips to stay cool, anchors on the sidewalks confirming that it is indeed hot, sympathy for workers that work outside, and no other news, such as the wars in the Middle East.

That being said, nothing is like NYC when it is close to 100. It is miserable. You see in Dallas when it was hot, we just didn't go outside except to go to the pool. But when you live in the city, you walk everywhere, outside. The subway stations are like ovens. (Over used analogy I know, but they are extremely hot and uncomfortable.) On our way to and from the Yankee game last night we walked through the "lower income" neighborhood that is two blocks over and they had a hydrant open and were playing in it. Before and after the game. It looked like fun. Everyone was sitting on their steps at 10 PM. That's another difference, window a/c and some folks have no a/c.

So, a NYC heat wave is ridiculous and yet unique. I guess that describes all of NYC.