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.
FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS...
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
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.