|'04 Chronicle content
media analysis summary Table and MS Excel file download...
Can't deny pro-sports bias of local coverage
HOUSTON (Dec. 16) -- For 125
days we tracked the Houston Chronicle and their allocation of space to several of the
various college and professional football programs of interest in the community.
We began the quest on August first, and
ended the review on December 3rd, the Friday after the last regular season game was played
for the college programs studied. While the results were not surprising, they were
illuminating in many respects.
First, there were some flaws in the study design. We made an
initial decision not to count pictures in the space allocation count, which was a major
mistake in retrospect. As mentioned earlier in the weekly reviews, the Chronicle's
passion for pictures of all things Texan in the sports pages is significant, and would
have further slanted the amount of ink allocated to Houston's professional franchise.
We also discovered that the Chronicle does not seem to send
photographers on road trips with the college teams, but relies on the wire services for
photo coverage. The Chronicle struggles covering west coast games for
Houston-based college teams, probably due to time deadlines. This was an issue for
Rice as they were on the road out west several times this season.
All of the above aside, what did the report show?
1 The Chronicle loves the Texans.
Their coverage dominates the paper from August forward. There were very few
days over the past 125 where they did not have an article on the front page of the sports
section. In fact, several times, you could read about various aspects of the team in
the front section, the (formerly) Lifestyle section, or in a society or Ken Hoffman
column. David Carr's haircut garnered more ink than some of the game day coverage
for a college program. All in all, there were less than 20 days out of 125 that a
college team out-inked the Texans. The domination began in pre-season and continued
to a lesser extent each month, win or lose.
2 The Chronicle is currently
in love with Coach Fran and the Aggies. We were subject to countless
accolades about the re-birth of the A&M program under the new coach. Mickey
Herskowitz in particular seems to have a fondness for the program. Several of his
columns were devoted to the maroon cause.
3 U of T still can dominate
the sports page. They ended up in second place behind the Texans in total
media coverage, slightly ahead of Texas A&M, who started slowly, but gained momentum
over the later months.
4 The Chronicle could care
less about TSU. Truly, alumni and fans of this program should be all over the
Chronicle about the lack of coverage, game day and other. It took some sleuthing to
discover that they went winless last year. In fact, there was scarcely a mention of
any player profiles or coaching information. I do not believe any reporter followed
the team when they were out of town, as the Chronicle relied on the wire service for news.
5 Rice and U of H, despite
weekly columns devoted to their athletic programs still rank significantly behind UT and
A&M in newspaper coverage.
Different looks at the numbers
Let's assume that each page of a newspaper has 126 column inches of
space to allocate. Below are how many total pages the Chronicle devoted to the teams
we were following during the past 4+ months:
# of Pages
The University of Texas 20
Texas A&M University
The University of Houston 14
Texas Southern University 03
Another way to look at the amount of resources devoted to the college
programs is to eliminate the professional team data and look at the percentage of
resources allocated to the five studied college teams.
% of Coverage
The University of Texas
Texas A&M University
The University of Houston 21%
Texas Southern University 04%
(Totals do not equal to 100% because of rounding)
There are a number of additional studies that could be completed in the
future, including page placement, number of mentions of individual players or coaches,
positive or negative columns, but my guess is that they would still show similar
Football is clearly a dominant sport in Texas. It might be fun to
do a similar study for the various basketball and baseball programs, but the level of
resources devoted to the college game at the Chronicle is much less than football.
I hope you enjoyed reviewing the data as much as I did tracking the
results this year. Have a wonderful holiday and enjoy reading about the bowl games
and the BCS controversies......
Season winds down
Editor's note: As a special feature provided this
fall to the Webletter by a neutral source -- guaranteed -- we'll be presenting
an occasional update on coverage of the local football teams, both college and pro,
by the Houston Chronicle. Table
and MS Excel file download...
HOUSTON (Nov. 29) -- With the exception of the Monday
Night game pitting Rice against Louisiana Tech, the regular college football season is
over for the teams that we have been covering. For the Texans, it means that there
will be no competition for pigskin ink with the exception of the Monday game, the cries
from Austin when they make or miss a BCS bowl bid, the annual post mortem of what went
right (and wrong) for the covered teams. The U of H piece already ran this past
week, but we were treated to a story about Rice football player academic accomplishments
as we await the post mortem piece on the Owls (offense line and RB injuries, the emergence
of Joel Armstrong, and the usual....almost....what if scenarios).
The past week was host to a plethora of Aggie/Longhorn rivalry stories.
Most Chronicle columnists weighed in on some aspect of the game. The game met
the week long hype and produced a one point safety and enough ink to rival the Texans to
the point that the 60% coverage level from last week by the Texan's was reduced by at
least 4%. In fact, a picture and caption for the game was front page above the fold
on Saturday. Not to worry, with this Sunday's game against the Tennessee traitors,
um...Titans, we can expect that pro football margin to increase again.
This analysis project is expected to end on November 30, but we may wait
until the final Big 12 U of H columns so we may follow the ink until the end of the week.
We will have one more analysis to report before we call it a day.
Sorry, our mistake: Mickey did
give Owls half a loaf
HOUSTON (Nov. 24) -- As promised in our last review, we went to the
archives of the Houston Chronicle to
see if Mr. Herskowitz had opined on the Aggies program with as much regularity as it
seemed. The Chronicle keeps a pretty good archive of columnist material and a reader
can quickly peruse his columns from Christmas Day 2003 forward. We kept our search
parameters from August 1 through the current date and discovered that the legendary
columnist wrote about the Aggies a total of 7 times, while covering the Owls in 1/2 of a
column (The other half was about the Coogs, a feel sorry for the Owls and Coogs plight
column, as they have to play the big boys, in this case, the Longhorns and Miami
Hurricane, respectively). His next ink should again wax nostalgic about the splendid
history between the big twelve powerhouses. The 7 columns comprise a little more
than 19% of his 36 columns since the beginning of our study. If my prediction is
correct, the 8 columns out of 37 will increase the total to 21.6%.
During that same time frame, Mr. Herskowitz covered the Texans in five
columns, the Cougar's in 1 and 1/2 columns and has not decided to opine on the TSU Tigers.
Why doesn't Mickey ever write about Owls?
HOUSTON (22) -- College Football is winding down as the
teams head into their final game or games prior to Championship week and the bowl game
hoopla. It looks like both the Aggies and Longhorns will go bowling, while Rice, U
of H and TSU will be hanging on the sidelines wondering "what if".
We no longer need to ask the question of "what if" with the
coverage of the Houston Chronicle. There is clearly a focus on the Big 12 schools,
in particular, UT and A&M. There was no clearer evidence of this than in the
past week when the Longhorns out inked the Cougars during a week where one of the top 10
teams in the nation came calling to Robertson stadium and the Longhorns had a bye week.
In fact, three area teams covered had a bye week. Ink for the bye
week Agges and Longhorns?...almost 237 column inches (80 and 156.5) . Ink for the
idle Owls during the same time period?....30.5 inches. Coverage of the perfect
(winless) season for the TSU Tigers (who played Saturday night but had no Chronicle
reporter filing a story Sunday or Monday)?....17 inches. The Coogs received 148.5
inches during that time period. Even more to the point, who garnered front page
Sunday sports page above the fold coverage for college football? Oklahoma's 35-0
whitewashing of Baylor. The Cougars arrived below the fold.
Conversely, the lack of games to cover for the past 7 days foisted the
Texans back into a dominant media position. 61% of the coverage for these programs
in November focused on the professional team. It was a special week. We found
out that David Carr is considered a "hunk" by Hollywood, thanks to his gorgeous
locks....so glad he didn't cut his hair until the team won two games in a row or else we
might have never known. In fact, this is front page of the sports section
We were also treated to some eccentric River Oaks millionaire who wants
his lawn to look like Lambeau field. I can see why we would want to include this
important news instead of looking critically at what went wrong this year at TSU, or how
much did the injury to Thomas Lott disrupt the Owls season since he averaged over 7 yards
a carry in 2003.
There was a Mickey Herskowitz sighting as he devoted a column last week
to the Cougars. It seems like he has spent the entire year waxing about the Aggies
in his work, so this was a welcome bit of journalism outside the maroon program. I
did not track this specifically, but will take a moment this week to check the Chronicle
on-line to see if my impressions are true.
I expect we will only update this information one or two more times as
the season finally winds down. Tracking this coverage since August 1 has been a bit
tedious but very enlightening.
Happy reading !
Winning, coverage doesn't correlate-- except
for the Owls
HOUSTON (Nov. 10) -- November is approximately one-third over
and football coverage continues in the Chronicle. There has been wild enthusiasm
that the Texans are beginning to whisper "winning season" and the Aggies have
gone from Ashamed & Mortified (Baylor) to "Almost & Missed" (Oklahoma).
The Longhorns are playing like comeback kids after a first half debacle with
Oklahoma State. The Cougars are winning again, the Owls are in a tailspin and the
Tigers are winless.
The question I pondered recently was if there is a correlation between
winning, losing and the number of column inches devoted to the program? The
conclusion seems to be at this point that the answer is no. The Longhorns have moved
from 6% to 10% to 19% and back to 10% from August through November 10th in relative
coverage. The Aggies just gained momentum from 3% to 10% to 14% and 18% over the
same time period, media gain despite their last two losses. The Cougars averaged 9%
over the 4 months (6%,12%,9%,9%) while the Owls coverage has steadily eroded, showing the
strongest correlation of lack of wins meaning lack of coverage (3%, 10%, 9%, 8%).
TSU simply is not covered before or during the season, barely breaking the 2% to 3%
The Texans? no amount of wins or losses will diminish the level of media
adulation by the Chronicle. Monday still produce luv ya Texan's day. I
continue to rue the day I made the (arbitrary) decision to not count pictures in the
number of column inches devoted to the programs. The results would be even more
skewed with the picture happy Chronicle.
The big college gainer since the last analysis was the Aggies. The
Chronicle just can't get enough of their program and quarterback Reggie McNeal. He
is a semi-finalist for the Davey O'Brien award and has performed extremely well in most
games. The Chronicle has published several articles showcasing his prowess.
The stories are embellished with charts showing how he compares to other QB's in the
nation. My personal favorite was the chart showing "gosh, can he run!" as
he was listed among the leading rushers in the nation for quarterbacks. Who was the
nation's leading quarterback rusher at the time the chart was published? Rice's Greg
There have been two recent interesting developments in Chronicle
coverage. On November 4th, a reader comment that the U of H receives little coverage
and poor page placement was published in the Chronicle sports page. In addition, the
Chronicle devoted part of page two of the sports section to the lack of attendance at the
U of H and Rice November 6th games. I wonder if the attendance dig by the columnist
was related to the complaint to justify the placement and the level of coverage by the
paper for the two schools?
November Coverage in Summary: The Texans: 55%, the Aggies 18%, the
Longhorns, Cougars and Owls? 10%, 9% and 8% respectively. TSU? off the radar at less
Year to date? As an example, the Longhorns have out logged the
Owls in media ink by approximately 650 Colum inches. That translates to
approximately 5.4 full pages of news copy since we began this review(we assume 6 columns
of 20 inches of type per page). Better yet, the Texans have out-inked the TSU Tigers
by an astronomical amount of 9,456 column inches since August 1! That is almost 79
pages of copy. (and I remind the reader yet again, that the tally does not include
pictures!) TSU's lesson? Have your quarterback let the press know that he will
not cut his hair until the Tigers win a game!
Season-long coverage now
HOUSTON (Nov. 2) -- This report is usually updated every Friday,
but since we were close to the end of October, we decided not to provide an update until
after we measured the Sunday Chronicle and totaled up the month.
The month ended with the Texans dropping below the 50% level for total
competitive media coverage. The drop was not anticipated because there was little
drop off in coverage during the bye week. But something happened on the Saturday
after our last update. The Texans did not have a mention in the sports page except a
one inch scheduling notice on the 23rd and two days later the same phenomena occurred on
the Monday sports page. Imagine, two whole days without professional football
coverage of the Texans.....
Meanwhile in the college ranks, the twin titans of the Longhorns
and Aggies garnered a collective 431 square inches of coverage while the U of H was
recovered from their bye week and received 190 inches of ink. The Owls were 25
inches behind the Cougars and miles behind the Big Twelve goliaths. Need you ask
about the winless TSU Tigers? At 36 inches of coverage, they brought up the caboose
of this media train yet again. Now you would think that a story like the Baylor
victory over the Aggies would be the story that outstripped the competition and take the
lead for mention for the past week, but even that overtime debacle did not get as much
play as the continuing story of the Longhorn road trip in Colorado.
The college season has now well past the halfway point, and the
Chronicle has shown where their loyalties (and coverage) lie. The combined coverage
of the Houston college football teams barely beats the ink of the Longhorns. The
Aggies trail the orange by 5% but still handily beat the Owls, Cougars or the Tigers hands
With baseball done, football
should dominate coverage
HOUSTON (Oct. 25) -- On Thursday night, the St. Louis Cardinals
put an abrupt end to Houston's baseball pipe dreams. The incredible run of the
Astros during the month of September and October significantly changed the face of the
Chronicle's sports page, devoting a large portion of space to a team that would otherwise
been relegated to page 2 and 3 if they were merely playing out the string. Now that
the run is done, we can expect that football will clearly dominate for the remainder of
the fall, despite the beginnings of professional basketball.
In our last weekly review, we discovered that at least for the
University of Houston, a bye week ended coverage. In fact, the momentum away from U
of H coverage allowed Rice media mentions to catch up to the Cougars, significant in this
market. This past week was an off week for the Texans so it was interesting to see
if the disappearing media would affect the professional franchise. The answer in a
word.....no. The Texans averaged 36 column inches a day from Tuesday through Friday.
Of course the day after game day coverage held strong at 324 column inches.
Luckily the Chronicle made sure that Houston did not forget about their professional
franchise during their bye week! In fact, despite the bye week, the Chronicle still
made sure that more than half the media coverage stayed with the professional franchise.
The big gainers for the week were the Aggies and Longhorns,
respectively. They out inked the Owls by 100 and 70 column inches, respectively.
At the same time, the Cougars and the Tigers of TSU recorded an identical puny 19.5
inches of media coverage. Rice made 90 inches of ink as their up and down season
continues. For the Month of October, almost 85% of media coverage for these
franchises have been concentrated with the Texans, Longhorns, and Aggies. The Owls,
Cougars and Tigers have split the crumbs.
One revelation was that the Sunday game day photo coverage of the
college games for the teams under our scrutiny are all Associated Press shots, meaning
that the Chronicle does not deem it important enough to send a photographer to cover any
of the local college teams away games. Conversely, the Monday coverage of the Texans
game are all Chronicle snap shots, at least for the home game. We will watch the
next road game to see if that is still true.
Owl coverage suffering from jet lag
HOUSTON (Oct. 17) -- As we reach the halfway point for October (week six in College
Football parlance), a familiar pattern is taking place. Forgetting for the moment that the
Texans will out ink the college programs, (they lead the closest competitor by more than
700 column inches), the Big Twelve Conference, and the University of Texas in particular
is dominating in the college coverage circles.
Mack Brown's crew received almost 280 column inches of mention last week, compared to
the Aggie's 143 inches, trailing way behind is the Owls at 93, while the result of the
Cougars bye-week is saying bye bye from media mentions (less than 20 inches). Needless to
say, TSU continues to fly beneath the Media radar, almost no one is aware that they are
winless this year and seem to have lost their offense.
Now, the Aggies are trying valiantly to catch up in the media column. We are
continuing to see three themes as we follow the "Dracula like" rise of the
Aggies from the grave. 1: the genius of Coach Fran. 2: the return of the wrecking crew
defense, and finally 3: My god, Reggie McNeal may be an honest to goodness quarterback in
College Station. The Aggies lost much opportunity for press when they lost big and early
in Utah. For several weeks, they trailed in garnering media mentions until they started to
win some games they did not expect to be in. The Aggies also miss having a huge rival game
other than the Longhorns. UT gets to reap the media mileage from two major rivals, the
Aggies and the Sooners.
Coverage for Rice seems to be suffering from West Coast malady, trying to find
anyone to read about the exploits Hawaii, San Jose, Fresno, Nevada and other WAC rivals.
Their West Coast forays are also poorly covered by the Chronicle, partly because of the
time delay, games in the left coast end too late to make any detailed analysis through the
newspaper deadlines on Sunday. Completing the stories on Monday and Tuesday put the
Chronicle way behind the other media outlets such as Radio, TV and Internet services. As
the Rolling Stones sang, "Who wants yesterday's papers?"....old news doesn't
There is also little mention of other stars and players in the WAC, compared to
the ink received by big 12 players. Brad Smith (Missouri) and Donovan Woods (OK State) get
major media treatment, while Timmy Chang's exploits in Hawaii or the comeback attempt of
Nevada's Charles Kretschmer receive little notice in Houston media. Boise State's winning
ways do not seem to be of interest to Chronicle editors. Through Friday, the Broncos have
won 16 straight, yet are only ranked 21st in the nation.
All of these challenges (and more) systematically seem to work against
increasing the profile of the Owls among Chronicle readers. It will be interesting if
having two local angles in Conference USA will make a difference in coverage of the local
collegiate teams next year.
Until next week,
Coverage of Owls lags behind UH
HOUSTON (Oct. 11) -- It looks like October will be remembered as the month of
the cliché'. Will the Cubs make it to the post season
or yet again be subject to charges of el foldo? Will the Red Sox end the curse of the
Bambino? Will the Astros ever win a playoff round? Will Mack Brown and the Longhorns
finally beat the Sooners?
These are the questions that will dominate the media during the next weeks. It seems to
be easier to retread old stories instead of working on real news and analysis. "Look
at this running back recruit that got away from Texas!" "Mack tells his team his
job is safe!" "Mack is serious about defense this year, he hired NFL
Coaches!" In fact, I really wish that these teams would win so we could dispense with
the curse stories and cliché's and get down to some
The Red River hype fest dominated the media, in fact, if you take away the
Monday Texanfest...(a mere 287 column inches on our favorite pro team, without pictures),
the Texas/Oklahoma feud even eclipsed coverage of the Texans. There is some justification
for the coverage this year. Both teams are ranked in the top 5, both are undefeated, and
the winner of the game has national championship aspirations.
Well, coverage matches the importance, as the Longhorns garnered almost 300
column inches of Chronicle ink. Contrast that to the Tigers, who had a relatively robust
28 inches as they struggle to win a game this season. The Cougars come in a few inches
below 200 inches as they get prime coverage for their Thursday night scuffle with Southern
Mississippi. 100 inches below that total come the Owls, who seemed to be short shrifted
because of their game on the left coast was too late for complete coverage, and what
seemed to be a lack of thoughtful analysis of the game in the days afterward. 133 points
scored in a regulation contest seemed to garner more attention outside of Houston than in
the Chronicle. The Aggies seem to be gathering a bit more respect as Coach Fran continues
his college station resuscitation tour. They received 30% more coverage than Rice but they
could not touch the level ink reserved for the Longhorns.
Meanwhile, we saw David Carr and his Dad get their haircut as we continue to be
subject to domination of the media by the pro franchise. The gap is getting smaller, from
80% in August, to 57% in September to 42% so far in October. The large amount of coverage
for the UT/OU game was the major reason for the shrinking gap, but we should see that
change back in favor of the professional team until the Aggie/Longhorn battle in November.
Since we began this survey, we have seen the domination of the media by the
pros, an increasing amount of coverage of UT and a surprising amount of ink for the
Cougars, still leading the local coverage of college teams. Rice and TSU are clearly
lacking in coverage relative to the other programs. By the time next week's analysis is
published, if is likely that the Longhorns will overtake the Cougars in coverage, since we
will probably see wall to wall expose on every play from the Cotton Bowl.
Chronicle goes snapshot-happy
HOUSTON (Oct. 2) -- Football season churns into October and we
have seen the first victory by the hometown Texans. If you missed the game, no problem!
The Chronicle had more than 219 column inches of color pictures from Kansas City! The
first Texan victory received the front page color picture treatment in the paper. This is
at least the second of three weeks in the regular season that a picture of the game has
been front page news the following Monday. Another way to look at this snapshot happy
paper is to recognize that the Texan's pictures from last Sunday's game eclipsed the total
column inches devoted to Texas Southern for the entire month....
Since A&M and the Cougars had the week off, there was little
mention of their programs during the beginning of the week, but Coach Fran's detection of
a pulse in the Aggie gave rise to a sizeable expose on his history of revitalizing college
The Rice-UT football game generated the typical amount of space for both programs, but
surprisingly, the Longhorn game this week against Baylor is not generating much ink. In
fact, the last 3 days only generated 5 column inches of "burnt orange"
newsprint. Rice's press release on Ben Wiggins medical condition was reprinted virtually
TSU received more coverage than usual, with a total of 44 column inches devoted to the
winless Tigers during a 7 day period. Not much compared to the other programs, but far
greater than earlier this season.
So September ends with approximately 57% of the comparative ink, sans snapshots focused
on Bob McNair's $700 million professional franchise, while the U of H has received the
lions share of the college coverage, thanks in large part to the number of games they have
played versus the other teams we are measuring. UT, A&M, and Rice are within 5 column
inches of each other for the month, trailing the Coogs by about 100 column inches, and
TSU's coverage, despite their mentions this past 7 days, significantly lags behind the
Since we began this measuring game, the Texan's have garnered 67% of the space, while
the other programs have fought between 7 and 9% of the remaining crumbs, again, except the
Tigers, who merit only 2% of the Chronicle's coverage when comparing these programs.
Coverage of local colleges picks up
HOUSTON (Sept. 25) -- As September winds down to its inevitable
conclusion, we are observing a noticeable increase in coverage for some local teams.
The University of Houston enjoyed more than 295 column inches of
coverage from their win over Army through the anticipation of the top ranked Miami
Hurricane arriving coincidental to tropical no-show Ivan. In fact, Friday's coverage of
the Cougar's effort at Reliant stadium logged close to 97 column inches, sans pictures.
Coverage before and after the game Thursday was approximately double the
average space the Chronicle allocated to the Cougars in their previous 3 games...
Rice benefited from its second win against Hawaii. Leading with a
35 column inch picture of Ed Baily (large, but still only 1/3 the size of the David Carr
melon earlier this month), the Owls inked about 185 column inches over the week.
There has been some considerable interest due to the fact that they are 2-0, and that they
play the Longhorns next. However, the preview article on the game was so focused on
the Rice players, we gave Rice full credit for the words and allocated no space to UT for
Despite the increase in interest of these local programs, the Texan's
coverage still outstripped the sum of both schools. Logging in at a sturdy 684
column inches over the past 7 days, we do not have to fear that people will forget who the
Texan's are. Imagine what they will do if the team actually wins a game or two!
The Aggies have the week off so there was little mention in the paper of
their resurgence after the first game debacle against Utah. TSU plays Saturday
against Nichols State but there was no information Friday except a radio listing.
For the week, the chronicle allowed 5.5 inches of space for gridiron news for the Tigers.
In summary, we have seen coverage for the Texans continue at a strong
rate, but the college programs are making some inroads. The Cougars lead in total
coverage of the College teams, largely due to playing 4 games so far compared to the
Aggies three and the Owls and Longhorns 2 contests, each. The lead could change
again after the weekend, but the fact remains that the Coogs have benefited from the
Thursday game and national exposure with Oklahoma and Miami over the past 2+ weeks.
It will be interesting to see how much space is allocated to the Rice-Texas game this
weekend without the Aggies or Coogs playing to compete for space.
It's getting spooky to open sports section
HOUSTON (Sept. 17) -- As we head into the second half of
September, we are learning to fear opening the Houston Chronicle on a Monday. Last
week, readers opened their newspaper only to find a ghastly blue and red paper mache' mask
and painted head with a pained expression staring them down on the front page as the
Chronicle's crack team of investigative pondered the irony of a stadium named Reliant
(after an energy company) losing electrical power during the opening day loss. In
total, the Chronicle devoted 351 column inches to every possible detail of the first NFL
game for the year, and that was excluding an additional 232 column inches of pictures.
That translates to more than five full pages of Texans pictures and stories.
Even Shelby Hodge's society column led with a story about what local celeb's, movers and
shakers were in the owners box for the first game!
The mass coverage booster the total coverage to date for Houston's NFL
darlings to more than 80% since August 1 in comparison to the other 5 college programs we
are tracking, and boosted their comparative space allocation for September from 47% to
55%. We will confirm it on next Monday, but it looks like each Monday we will be
subjected to a "special sports section" on the results of the NFL weekend.
On the other side of the equation, it took the Chronicle until Wednesday
to mention that Texas Southern lost their football game last weekend. Before then
and since, there has been no sighting of the TSU Tigers and their football program.
At the University of Houston, the story that broke on Fox TV with Dave Maggard's possible
flirtation with another job the previous week finally surfaced in print last weekend, five
days after the story broke. Houston's game with Army is not generating much
copy. It is likely that some additional coverage will occur on Saturday, just prior
to the game. A similar situation exists with Rice and Hawaii. There was no
full page comparative analysis between Timmy Chang and Greg Henderson as we saw Friday
with Messer's Harrington and Carr.
News copy that Rice and U of H are offering free and discounted tickets
to hurricane refugees hit the paper Thursday and Friday, respectively.
Apparently the rumor that the 49ers-Saints game would be played in Houston if Hurricane
Ivan came ashore in the Crescent City did not generate much interest.
There was mid-week sightings of stories about both the Rice and U of H
programs, with similar treatment for the Aggies and the Longhorns. It is interesting
to note that there has only been one day during the first 48 days of this study where
column inches devoted to any of the college programs exceeded the daily space devoted to
In summary, forgetting the pro slant, coverage during September for the
five colleges is very even between the Aggies and the Longhorns, (in the 350 inch range)
about 100 column inches less for the Cougars, with another 80 inch drop off for the Owls
and other than the conference preview special sections prior to the season and a wrap of
the Prairie View A&M game, a miniscule 10 column inches allocated to TSU.
David Carr's hair out-inks college game
HOUSTON (Sept. 10) -- The first games have
been completed for college football and it is time to open the NFL regular season.
The glut of non-stop football coverage on the air waves and in print is now in full
swing. While there was no contest in August on who ruled the print media during
preseason (the pro's, hands down), we now get to see where the Chronicle will put their
coverage muscle when looking at allocating column inches to the various college and pro
teams we are studying.
Remember the ground rules, we are measuring column
inches devoted to the following 6 programs, the Texans, Longhorns, Aggies, Cougars, Owls
and Tigers (TSU, not LSU). We also made the strategic decision (should I say
mistake?) not to count the column inches devoted to pictures. This decision is
especially painful now that the Chronicle has revamped their layout and devoted an ever
increasing amount of space to pictures. What made me reflect on this? David
Carr's hair. The Chronicle loves David Carr. He has his own column.
His picture was in a "teaser" on the front page of the college preview,
as if to say..."don't worry, you can read about me
next week!" Then on Sunday, there he was...David Carr's hair,..............
more than 96 column inches on page one.......his locks hanging down, and then another 30
column inches of picture inside. It was like reading Tiger Beat magazine!
"Davey won't cut his hair until the team wins two games in a row!"
Forgetting the giant cranium pictures, the September
Texans coverage approximately equals the collective level of the five college team's
space. Most of the Texan's news starts on the front page of the sports section, with
somewhere around 1/2 of a page continuing inside. We have not seen regular
season game day preview and post win/loss coverage, so these ratios may yet change.
We do suspect that the amount of coverage for the Texans will not diminish the Chronicle's
commitment to cover the TSU Tigers, they have not devoted any space to their program since
The Longhorns received the largest amount of coverage
last week, from the opening slaughter of North Texas (65 column inches, approximately 3
times the amount of coverage for the other programs), to two articles during the week and
the Arkansas payback preview of 45+ inches Friday. The Aggies were covered solely
for the challenge of their quarterback injury and a Herskowitz column last Sunday.
After the coverage for the Rice/Cougar match, and one follow up article each during the
week, little has been mentioned for either program. Rice does not play this week, U
of H had a mere 4.75 inches devoted on Friday to their game with Oklahoma this weekend.
In other media, Fox sports reported on Wednesday that
Dave Maggard, the U of H athletic director was considering another position. On
Thursday, Fox reported that Maggard decided to stay. There was nary a mention in the
Chronicle Thursday or Friday on this news item. I guess no press release, no
In summary, the Longhorns and Aggies lead in the
September college coverage, followed by U of H, Rice and the no news Tigers. Since
August 1, total column inches devoted to the Texans is still above 70% as we head into the
first weekend of NFL games that count.
Just think, David Carr's hair!
September picks up bit of momentum for college game
HOUSTON (Sept. 5) -- August ended as if begun -- a plethora of
words and pictures in the Chronicle about Bob McNair's pro-football franchise.
Nonetheless, there was an increase in activity the last 4 days of August and the first 3
days of September in the College arena. Thankfully, the Chron saw fit to
devote 11 column inches (and a picture!) in the City and State section to the retirement
of the current Bevo and the unveiling of the new UT longhorn mascot. They answered
the question we all had....will the old Bevo become briscuit and burgers, or maintain a
retirement lifestyle as a pampered methane dispenser? (The latter.)
Does the focus on the mascots as a major feature story in the front two
sections of the paper mean that we will soon focus on the exploits and travails of the
other sports mascots in our community? (more Pulitzer material!) Shasta at home with
his mate? Sammy the Owl's molting problems? Reveille's secret fire hydrant
fetish? Perhaps a search for the name of the TSU Tiger? Toro's reckless driving
tickets on his segeway? A multi-part series for those of us interested in hard
hitting news and commentary!
Thanks to the last Sunday sports section special preview of the college
football season, the overall share of media coverage to the Texans versus the other 5
programs we are tracking was reduced from 86% to 80% by the end of the month. The
largest gainers for the week were the Aggies, Cougars and Longhorns, respectively.
At the end of the pack was Rice, at least 10 inches behind the cluster of state schools
and finally TSU, trailing even the Owls by 7 column inches.
September has picked up some momentum for the college game, with less
than half of the coverage for the first 3 days going to the pro franchise (a mere 45%, 220
column inches), but luckily the string of front page stories/mentions on the sports
section continues to thrive. The Aggies seem to be paving the way, since their
opening game was on Thursday. 32% of the space focused on their hopes, aspirations,
quarterback superiority, and ultimately their demise at the hands of Utah, 41 to 21.
Saturday, Sunday, and Monday could be a significant coverage boost to the remaining
four college programs, with the Tigers and Longhorns playing separate games on Saturday,
and the Owls and Cougars facing off at Reliant Stadium on Sunday. Since the Texans
played their last pre-season game Thursday night, there should be less competition for
space over the labor day weekend.
As it stands on Friday, September 3, the Texans lead the newsworthy pack
with 76% of the coverage since the beginning of August, with no other program garnering
more than 6% of the media mention. I wonder what will happen when the NFL regular
Texans beat goes on
HOUSTON (Aug. 27) -- The past seven days have not bucked the
trend of the Chronicle continuing to portray itself as the "Flackmaster" of the
NFL and Houston Texans.
For the Month of August, a remarkable 86% of column inches (of the teams
we have been following) have been devoted to the Houston Texans (up from 85% a week ago),
due to a stunning 89% of column inches following the pro franchise over the past seven
days. It would have been far more if not for an article detailing how happy
Mack Brown is in Austin last week. In fact, collectively over the past 7 days, the
Chronicle has allocated less than 17 column inches to the Owls, Cougars, Aggies, and TSU
Tigers football programs combined compared to more than 652 inches allotted to the pro
franchise during the same period. This does not count column inches devoted to
Some interesting trends, the daily page devoted to the Texan's
training camp is finally over, so the guaranteed daily 120 column inches has been reduced
somewhat. Another trend to note, I did not keep an accurate tally, but I can not
think of a day during the month where an article featuring some aspect of the Texan's
program was not featured on the front page of the sports section. Other than
the Mack Brown article, there have been no front page features on any of the
college programs we are following (that I can remember). TSU continues to be the big
loser in the media mentions. There must be little happening off of Scott Street,
according to the Houston Chronicle. In fact, the Chronicle used 45 inches of space
in the Houston Section to feature Texans trainer Dan Riley and his training and health
tips, while they have devoted only 46 inches in August to TSU, all in one
The Chronicle's intrepid reporting of local college football continues
to be comprised of running almost verbatim the press releases from the schools they choose
to cover. It must be somewhat embarrassing to those who know how the system works.
The college reports on the local teams are also run in a smaller font than the
regular feature articles.
Perhaps this lopsided coverage will change once the regular season
The Chronicle has been following (via news services) the travails of the
Colorado football player and Olympic skier who lost his NCAA eligibility because he had
received "sponsorships" to help pay for his skiing training.
Unfortunately, they did not choose (yet?) to explore the apparent hypocrisy of how
the NCAA will allow college athletes to participate and get paid for other professional
sports while still competing as an amateur, as did Cedric Benson by playing minor league
baseball, or seeming to ignore the deals (perhaps under the table) that Nike and others
have made with high school basketball players and for AAU and "select"
programs. This is a good "think piece" that would distinguish the
reporting at the paper. Instead we get columns about how former NFL linebacker Dick
Butkus has a nephew who has to answer the obligatory questions about his lineage while
trying to make the team. Wow! Pulitzer material!
As we continue to follow this coverage throughout the season, we are
going to make some decisions on how to count some articles and information. When
college teams we are following play each other and there are feature articles devoted to
the upcoming game or post game coverage, we will total the column inches and divide by two
to give equal (but diminished) credit to both schools. (Rice versus U of H, Rice versus
UT, UT versus A&M). We will not use that method if there are comments about both
teams in the weekly column devoted to Rice or U of H, assuming these columns run during
the season as in the past. They will count strictly for the schools featured in the
column. While we are not counting column inches for pictures, the playbook diagrams
that have graced the game analyses of Texans games in the past will be counted if they are
run this year.
Link to content analysis table (as of Aug. 27)...
Local media college coverage comes in dribs and drabs
HOUSTON (Aug. 20) -- Reading the Houston Chronicle Sports pages
during August is becoming a mind-numbing experience. The amount of copy (sans
pictures!) devoted to the Houston professional football franchise has swollen to more than
2,600 column inches during the last 20 days. In addition, like being home on the
range, "seldom is heard a discouraging word" when it comes to these media
darlings. Now, the Chronicle does not have a monopoly on this obsequious behavior,
most of the local television stations are devoting much of their sportscasts at the
"bubble" and sports talk radio has logged so much time off of Kirby drive that
they might have a legal case for "squatters rights" if they choose to fight an
Media mentions for the various college football programs are coming in
drips and drabs, one to two inches at a time. Do not assume that the Chronicle's
intrepid sports staff are busting their behinds to get the inside skinny on the latest at
Cullen boulevard or University drive, they are simply printing or slightly rewriting the
school's press releases. The big loser in this activity? Texas Southern University.
For whatever reason, (resources?) they either have not provided updated press
releases on the results of their preparation or they are being ignored by the Chronicle.
Consequently, there have been no mention of the Tigers program since the 46 inch
analysis on August 10th.
Any follow up in the Chronicle on UT's Cedric Benson's foray into the
pen? Nary a mention of the story that Cedric showed up for jail twice and was told
that the cells were full and because of his good behavior, he
did not have to return. (this update was mentioned to me by a UT fan, so I have not
verified the accuracy) Sports Illustrated ran a short anecdote that the talented
running back helped out a couple in distress by running to get help after they had crashed
their automobile. The grateful couple decided to buy season tickets as a way to show
appreciation for his selfless act. I did not find a mention of this story either in
The Texan's preseason skirmish with the evil
Cowboys garnered more than 218 column inches of analysis, anecdotes and
"information". That one game coverage has exceeded media coverage for both
Rice and U of H combined from August 1 through August 20th. I am beginning to regret
my decision to not count pictures in the content measurement, since if seems that each day
I am subtracting at least 15 additional inches of space to some aspect of the legendary
So the summary to date? 85% of the Chronicle newspaper space devoted to
covering these programs has been allocated to the Texans, with the Cougars, Longhorns,
Aggies, Owls and finally Tigers (in rank order) struggling for newsprint mention.
Chron coverage continues pro slant
HOUSTON (Aug. 18) --
Week two of following the Chronicle coverage of football in our community started and
ended again with a "professional slant". To date, 87% of the
coverage of the football teams we have decided to track have been devoted to those
professional darlings, the Houston Texans.
This week we did see some
column inches devoted to Rice, U of H and TSU, and we can look forward to preview articles
next week on TAMU and the Longhorns. The college stories are previews of the season.
They were the predictable sort...can Rice win the WAC crown in their last year in
the conference?, Can U of H continue their winning ways under Art Briles after going to a
bowl last year? The depth charts covered 2 columns in width so I counted them as
such in my tracking (benefit of the doubt). The "depth charts were pretty much
boilerplate. No real research in the position by position analysis.
Hmmmmm...No coverage of
Cedric Benson completing his stint in jail...guess it is not newsworthy....
Most disappointing is that the
"Texan's leading information source" is not even picking up the press
releases from the schools about the first week of practice,.... but we did learn that the
Texan's second string QB Tony Banks has a wife that is a "pro-bowler" as a cook.
Boy howdy!...do I feel informed!
The next few days should
be tough, we actually get to see coverage of an exhibition game against the
evil Dallas Cowboys. Don't expect coverage of anything else
for the next few issues.
College teams run poor second
to newspaper coverage of Texans
Editor's note: As a special feature provided this fall to the
Webletter by a neutral source -- guaranteed -- we'll be presenting an
occasional update on coverage of the local football teams, both college and pro, by
the Houston Chronicle. Table
HOUSTON (August 8 -- Special to the Webletter) -- Ah,
The time when football fans across the nation begin to peruse the bookstores
for their latest football preview magazines and whet their appetites for the upcoming
Despite the sweltering heat, we begin to long for the days to sit in the stands and
watch our gridiron heroes as they prepare for the challenges ahead.
Houston is uniquely positioned with so many outstanding football teams, venues and
games that we thought we would look at how our community's "leading information
source" reports on the various teams in the area. Surely they will provide plenty of
in-depth coverage to help satiate the casual and discerning fan's interest!
We thought it would be fun to do a little research to track the amount of space the
Chronicle devotes to the various professional and collegiate teams that Houston fans
follow. Therefore we are scouring the paper on a daily basis with our trusty tape measure
and are comparing column inches devoted to several teams throughout the season. The
following chart and graph will be updated on a (hopefully) regular basis to see how things
We began the comparison August first, so we missed the WAC Media day on July 27th.
(Don't worry, the Chronicle has not reported on it as of August 5th).....(hmmmm, if the
Chronicle does not report on it, did it happen?).
We decided to track comparable column inches devoted to the Texans, Rice, the
University of Houston, Texas Southern University, Texas A&M and the University of
Texas football programs. For statistical purists, we are calculating headlines into the
column inch comparisons, but not pictures.
We are also using estimates, usually rounding up and down to the closest inch. Letters
to the sports editor on a program will be counted, since their inclusion is an editorial
decision. A newspaper column devoted to a program, player or coach will be included, but
the weekly column's about Rice, U of H and others will only count the portion of the
review that is focused on some element of the football program.
What have we noticed so far? Whoa! more than a full page daily of Texan's training
camp! So far the new nickname of the Chronicle should be "The Texan's Daily
Even Ken Hoffman's Thursday column devoted 3 inches to this year's tailgating
opportunities at Reliant Stadium, more coverage this week than Rice, UT, TSU and Texas
A&M combined! After a while I have become a little uncomfortable looking for even
mentions of the collegiate programs.
Can I count the blurb on the legal problems of a former A&M player? I will since
there seems to be an epidemic of off season disciplinary problems in the program
currently...it's a common theme. Shall I measure the mention two former A&M players in
the story on the visiting Dolphins? No, arbitrary decision on my part!
The paper ran an article on the 4th about the last season for many Conference USA teams
and the season ahead. There were several U of H mentions so it goes in their tally. Rice
was mentioned in one sentence so no credit for the Owls.
There was a great article Friday about the new NCAA regulations and their effect on
recruiting. What a great opportunity to talk to local coaches and get their perspective!
In fact, Ken Hatfield would be a great source for this article since he is President of
the NCAA football coach's association this year. Sadly, there is no mention of any local
reaction. What an opportunity missed.
We hope you enjoy this little research project! Who knows what the future brings!
Until next time, happy reading!
should give Owls impetus
for strong start this year
Rice head football coach Ken Hatfield relaxes with
reporters at this week's annual THSCA confab
HOUSTON (July 27) At the halftime of the Navy game in Rice Stadium
last year, things looked about as grim for Rices football prospects as they had in
many a year. Facing a 1-6 record, with what looked to be a blowout home loss to a team
that Rice had beaten on the road the year before, the Owls, used to dealing from a short
deck in the best of times, looked down on their fortunes and down in the mouth.
It was a classic time for a gut-check, and head coach Ken Hatfields crew
apparently pulled an abdomen observation quite well, for, although they didnt come
back to win the game, they did go and play Navy on even terms in the second half, shutting
down the Middiesoption attack with a suddenly-jelled defense.
Speaking at the Texas High School Coaches Association annual meeting at the old
Astroworld Hotel earlier this week, an upbeat Ken Hatfield took strength from the
turnaround that began with the second half of last years Navy game. And before
gathered press, he ventured a bit of analysis on the matter.
"We really had two bad games during our time here," he said, "
that really put us in a hole that we had to climb out of."
"I guess weve had several more bad games than that, if you listen to
the alumni," he added with a grin. "But I know weve had two bad games that
as far as the coaching staffs viewpoint that we thought were really bad."
"The first one was Air Force early on out there when I first came here. It
was matter there of our just trying too hard. We blocked four punts in the game, but still
didnt win the game. It was just one of those things; we wanted to win so badly we
just lost our concentration and wound up playing so poorly."
After the loss, Rice simplified its offense, got back to basics, readjusted the
focus button, and won out the rest of the season, going 7-4 and deserving of a bowl game
that th Owls were basically cheated out of.
Turnaround started in second half of '03 Navy game
And then there was last years Navy game. "We had a lot of people
here; you know, a lot of hoop-la surrounding the game," Coach Hatfield recalled.
"And Navy was really doing great about that time, running their triple option
extremely well. And on defense, at that point in the season, still, the guys were so young
-- just learning to play the game, really. Then all of a sudden, that week against Navy,
we ran up against a buzz-saw, option offense that really executed well, and I mean they
ripped us to shreds in the first half."
"But then we gutted it up; made a couple changes on defense, and came out
and played a great defensive second half. That helped us."
Adjustments on the offensive side helped out the Owls cause at that time,
as well. So did Kyle Herm's return to the pink of health. "Hed had broken
ribs earlier in the year," Coach recalled. "When he got healthy, that gave us
more depth at quarterback, where we could do some things."
With Greg Henderson as the only uninjured quarterback with any game experience,
Rice offensive coaches had been hamstrung in their strategies and tactics. But with the
added depth and experience fostered by Kyles return, and the back-to-basic approach,
the Rice offense got well in a hurry.
"Really we decided to revert to the basic triple option the rest of the
year," Coach said. "And it started, the next week at Fresno we played a
great game at Fresno. We lose the game, but it was a great game. We really took it too
them and got, like, 487 yards of offense."
Lesson number two learned.
"We played well on the road during that run last year; thats the
hardest thing that you have to do, is win on the road. To win at SMU, and Louisiana Tech,
they had down years, maybe, but those are two tough places to play, and it gave our guys a
lot of confidence."
It was a big turnaround for the Feathered Flock, it turned out, for the Owls
came out and won four out of their five last games and with any luck it could have
been six out of the last six.
Naysayers will point out that Rices wins came against teams that were less
than juggernauts. But that doesnt factor in the ferocity of the Rice attack, and the
level of improvement in play on both sides of the ball that took place as the Owl
offensive unit clicked and the defensive side jelled.
Owls can pick up where they left off -- and plan on
By the time the last game of the '03 rolled around, against LaTech at Ruston,
the Rice option game was rolling like a well-oiled machine and the Young Guns in the
defensive secondary had learned how to take control of a football game.
Consequently, the Owls ripped away three turnovers from their opponents in the first half
and scored virtually at will all day, setting an all-time school and league rushing record
en route to a 49-14 victory.
After that, noboby really wanted the season to end. But end it did, and at
that point left off, it turns out, is exactly where Coach Hatfield and his charges plan on
starting out, this September.
"The success we had last year definitely has carried over," he said.
"Weve shown a workmanlike attitude and a confident attitude
during spring practice and in the off-season program. And I really look forward to that
same attitude carrying forward when we start our two-a-days here in August."
Guess somebody better alert those guys from the outre side of South
Main that theyre not going to get a forfeit, after all, as more than a few of them
apparently expect, virtually, at least. Nope, the Rice Institute plans on showing up at
Reliant Stadium for this years Sept. 5 home opener against Houston and they
plan on showing up ready to play, Coach Hatfield said.
"This is the time of the year for every team to start thinking about
developing its own identity," the head Owl noted. "Thats really what
were thinking about right now. Its something were looking forward to. We
are probably as excited as weve ever been at Rice, since Ive been here
and this would be our eleventh year here just because we were able to finish so
strong last year."
"We have 18 seniors this year. All of them will play. And thats
important to us."
Paul T. Hlavinka
Coach Hatfield reviews his
anticipated offensive starters
"Strongest player weve ever had, pound for
pound. He power cleans 381 thats the best Ive ever had for a
quarterback anywhere. But he just loves the weight room. He is a good leader, and
weve been looking for to Gregs coming to the fore"
HOUSTON (July 27) Rice head coach Ken Hatfield went down the list
of his offensive unit while meeting with scribes at the THSCA convention this week. He
focused on his anticipated first unit, while pointing out, nevertheless, that two-a-days
loom ahead and that nobodys job should be expected to remain a lead-pipe cinch,
especially with some talented redshirts and underclassmen in the pipeline. That having
been noted, however, Coach Hatfield detailed his mental list.
"Offensively, well start nine seniors and two juniors. So we have an
experienced bunch on offense."
"The main thing I like to look at is to see to it that the players are playing
their best football in their senior year. If they are, then they will have improved,
theyll be better and well have a chance then, at every ball game that
"Going into the last year of the WAC, the Western Athletic Conference was a
big, big plus for us, with the breakup of the Southwest Conference. And weve had
some exciting games with all the teams in that league. This being the last year, certainly
wed like to win the conference, and go out as the WAC champion. But it will not be
easy because there are some outstanding teams, as you well know."
"Boise State has had one of the top programs in the country in the last
decade. Fresno has a lot of people back; their quarterbacks really good. Timmy
Chang, coming in here to our place, from Hawaii, is on his track to be the all-time NCAA
"But we also have also have a quarterback, Greg Henderson, who is a
senior. Strongest player weve ever had, pound for pound. He power cleans 381
thats the best Ive ever had for a quarterback anywhere. But he just loves the
weight room. He is a good leader, and weve been looking for to Gregs coming to
the fore. Hes always been kind of in the shadow of Kyle Herm, for the last three
years. Greg is ready to take control of this team, and to provide us with the kind of
leadership that will give us a chance in the opening game against Houston, and then
on from there."
"Weve got probably as good a group of running
backs as weve ever had, coming back. Thomas Lott was second in the nation in
average per carry last year, at 7.3 yards per carry. The only guy who averaged more than
he did was (Texas) Vincent Young"
"Weve got probably as good a group of running backs as
weve ever had, coming back. Thomas Lott was second in the nation in average
per carry last year, at 7.3 yards per carry. The only guy who averaged more than he did
was (Texas) Vincent Young, when he ran the ball."
"Joe Moore, a former baseball player and a great athlete who can do
anything, and a former quarterback, has really developed into an outstanding running back.
Marcus Rucker, another freshman running back who started the game against Houston
last year, is a strong, 215-pounder and a great player. Quinton Smith showed a
tremendous amount of speed when we first gave him a chance to start in a ball game against
Fresno; he had great game."
"Mike Falco, Clint Hatfield, Ed Bailey, Andrew Cates, John Wall are
all fine players and will contribute on the field as well. And so weve got great
depth a both fullback and running back probably the best weve had since
weve been here."
"Receiver-wise, Marcus Battle is back; he was the quarterback in
high school in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, but has been a receiver for two years now
and I think hell continue to be a great, great receiver for us."
"At tight end we have Ben Wiggins, whos a track All-American.
And hes one of the great stories a guy who came here on a track scholarship
and told us he wanted to play football, too. And I tried to talk him out of it five times,
with the track coach and he wouldnt listen to me, thank goodness. No, he kept
coming back, said, no, I want to play football. So he gave up his track
scholarship, came out and practiced and earned a football scholarship from us."
"Greg Wilson is our right guard; weve
played him and can play him at guard, tackle and center. And hell be the
right guard, going in. Were hoping hes down on his weight a little bit; he was
up at about 330 and were hoping to get him down to about 310, or somewhere in there
where he can really run and move"
"And then you saw what he did his first start in the SMU game
I think he had three catches for something like 182 yards and two Tds. And he
wouldve had three Tds if the quarterback hadnt underthrown him. But hes
going to be a big, big plus for us, too, even though hes a six-foot-three guy who
can play tight end or split end either one."
"On our offensive line, probably Scott Mayhew is probably the bell
cow of our group hes 6-6, about 312. Our left tackle, from Nederland,
hes just a great guy. The left guard, Micah Meador, from out here in Humble,
can really run; hes about 290. Ross Huebels our center; hes a
great athlete and has really good feet. Hes from Clear Lake, an excellent player for
"But those three are really the ones that have all had the experience of
playing harding together."
"Greg Wilson is our right guard; weve played him and can play
him at guard, tackle and center. And hell be the right guard, going in.
Were hoping hes down on his weight a little bit; he was up at about 330 and
were hoping to get him down to about 310, or somewhere in there where he can
really run and move. I think hell be just fine."
"Cotey-Joe Cswaykus will be our starting right tackle; he should
start at about 310; hes also from Midland. Hes come back from injury and from
personal adversity and hes quite a story."
"And then whether wed be running a tight end or not, depending upon
the situation it should be either Joe Wood or Ben Wiggins."
"The kicking game looks to be pretty solid.
Wed lost a great snapper (Ryan Pontbriand) who signed a pro contract with Cleveland;
we ended up with a guy who can snap it faster than he does. Drew Clardy, whos
about 6-6 and 270, did a great job at deep snapping last year"
"The kicking game looks to be pretty solid. Wed lost a great
snapper (Ryan Pontbriand) who signed a pro contract with Cleveland; we ended up with a guy
who can snap it faster than he does. Drew Clardy, whos about 6-6 and 270, did
a great job at deep snapping last year. And you know how important that is."
"We need to be more consistent in field goals. Brennan Landry was 35
of 35 in extra points last year; but we have not been as consistent there as youve
got to be. I think you win three games a year on a good field goal kicker, and we need to
have that. Besides Brennan, weve signed a young man this year (Luke Juist)
wholl be with us, field goal wise, and kicked a 52 and a 53-yarder in high school
ball games. So, between the two of them, well come up with whoevers working
out the best, and let him kick the field goals."
"But I think were going to have a fun offense, with that much
experience back, and finishing as strong as we did, I think were looking forward to
having a productive offense."
OK, now that you anticipated offensive starters have got a big, fat target
painted on your backs for the redshirts and underclassmen to take aim at during
two-a-days, may the leather-popping begin.
Next week: Coach Hatfield takes a look at the defensive side of the ball
comment on position players
Friends of Rice Athletics
HOUSTON (July 23) -- Here's a rundown of comments by Rice
assistant coaches on some of their key position players -- this given in connection with
the fundraising efforts currently going on through the Friends of Rice Athletics.
From Coach Brinson, running backs coach:
As the running back coach
at Rice University I am very excited. This group of running backs might be the best group
I have coached in 21 years including Clemson and Arkansas. This group has size, speed, agility, and power to
win on the Division I level. We have always
possessed a strong run attack and this group is no less but with the creativity they have,
there will be a lot of excitement in the running game.
A red-shirt senior who will continue the tradition of tough, hard-running fullbacks
like Benji Wood and Robbie Beck. The extra
dimension that Bailey has is his halfback-like ability that makes him as elusive as he is
A red-shirt freshman with great size and speed.
Has not played but showed good running and blocking ability during spring
A red-shirt sophomore who follows two outstanding fullbacks, Benji Wood and Robbie
Beck, that attended his high school (Marist). Now
at back up position to Ed Bailey he is poised to continue the Marist full back tradition
with great blocking skills and power.
A red-shirt sophomore who is expected to be a big contributor this fall. Suffered a hairline fracture in his lower leg that
kept him out until late in the season. With
his great running, blocking, and catching ability he will make a very good H-back.
A red-shirt senior who is a gifted running back, but injuries have slowed him in
the past 3 seasons. He has had a good
off-season working and is expected to have the best season of his college career.
A red-shirt senior who will add quality depth and experience to the fullback
A red-shirt junior who finished as a starter at the A back position. Lott led the nation in average yards-per-carry at
the running back position. Making great
transition from quarterback to running back along with a good years experience, Lott
should continue to put up big numbers at the A back position.
A true senior who has made a good transition from quarterback to running back. Made some big plays running, blocking, and catching
last year and with a full year of experience, Joe should show more improvement at the
A true sophomore who played as a freshman last year. Has
great inside and outside running ability.
A red-shirt sophomore that has exceptional speed to make a big play every time he
touches the ball. If he stays healthy look for
big things to happen from him.
A red-shirt freshman that was moved to fullback last spring.
He showed signs that he could be a big factor at the fullback position.
From Coach Young, defensive line/defensive ends:
This is Coach Young your defensive line and defensive ends coach. Let me introduce you
to our defensive linemen and defensive ends:
This group of young men should be the anchors for our defense starting with our defense
tackles. Jeremy Calahan will be a senior and a 3-year starter. He is also
having a great summer in the off-season program. William Wood and George
Chukwu have added weight this summer and both are close to 300 lbs. DeJaun
Cooper, Jonathan Cary and Addison Hopkins add good depth in this
position, which we haven't had in the past.
At the Defensive End position we have a group of guys we're hoping can bring excitement
to the game. The starters will be John Syptak, who is a 2-year starter,
and Rob Daniel. They both bring experience to this position. Behind them
will be Courtney Gordon, who has improved quicker than anyone this past
spring, and Thadis Pegues.
Closing the defensive line are good back-up players Eric Sweetser, Trey
Macaluso and Travis Stephenson, two of which red-shirted last season.
Defense starts up front and this group is ready to take on the challenge and have a
From Coach Kidd (kickers):
This is Coach Steve Kidd your kicking coach and recruiting coordinator talking with you
today. The kicking game looks good at this time. Let me tell you about it:
To say the off-season has been tumultuous might be the understatement of the year. I am
so ready for the season to arrive so we can put these issues behind us and get down to the
business of winning the WAC in our final season before we begin play in CUSA. There is
good reason to be optimistic from my office.
Punter Jared Scruggs had a tremendous campaign in 2003 and I do not
see any reason he cannot continue to improve with each passing season. This spring we
really worked on his directional punting and hang time consistency. We led our conference
in net punting in 2003. We have the ability to make some noise on the national scene in
net punting this fall. Jared is busy attending punting camps as an instructor and lifting
and running in preparation for the season. We speak weekly and he "survived" his
annual summer cruise with his family this year.
Deep snapper Drew Clardy performed admirably as a true freshman. I was
a bit nervous starting Drew as true freshman because we changed our punt protection and
coverage this year. In the past, the snapper snapped the ball and covered with no blocking
responsibilities. Drew had to snap, block and cover. Depending on our protection, he also
had to snap the ball to a certain leg of the punter so he had to be pin-point accurate
also. I hope nobody knows the name of our deep snapper. That means he is performing his
duties as desired! One bad snap equals the limelight for all the wrong reasons. Drew is
home in Moss Point, Mississippi this summer where he works at the local Blockbuster.
Kicker Brennan Landry is home in Lafayette, Louisiana this summer
preparing for the upcoming season. This spring he showed signs of becoming the consistent
kicker we signed out of high school. Until the last five kicks of the spring practice I
believe he had a really good spring going. His confidence is high when I speak to him and
he says his kicking is going well. We shall see when he arrives in August.
Kickers and punters have to have the shortest memory on the team. It is a very tough
job with not many opportunities to perform and tremendous pressure with every kick. Our
motto this season will be WE STAND ALONE TOGETHER. I saw a documentary on the men of Easy
Company in the 101st Airborne Division in WWII this Memorial Day. Their motto made too
much sense not to borrow. I am in no way trying to compare kicking to their tremendous
sacrifice. Fresno, California is no Bastogne, Belgium. It is with tremendous respect that
I have adopted this philosophy.
From Coach Bland, quarterbacks coach:
Greg Henderson -- Will be a senior quarterback
with lots of experience and confidence after a spring of being the starter. Greg is also the strongest player on the team pound
for pound. Has the tools to lead us to a WAC
Joel Armstrong -- Very talented red shirt
freshman who will see playing time and help the Owls in their march towards the WAC
Championship. Joel is a solid thrower and has
great running ability.
Tommy Henderson -- True freshman from Wichita
Falls and the younger brother of Greg. Tommy
is a natural option quarterback. Great running
ability and can throw the ball as well. He can
make something out of nothing.
Chase Clements -- True freshman out of San
Antonio (Alamo Heights). He was the San
Antonio player of the year. He has great
passing ability and also has great speed to get around the corner.
Coach Wachenheim, OC/OL coach, re offensive linemen:
Greg Wilson -- We call him the Masher. Our most talented offensive lineman. Will start at right guard.
Scott Mayhew -- AKA Mayhew-mongous. They say the bigger the neck the bigger the
paycheck. Should be rich someday.
Micah Meador -- does a wonderful Donald Duck
imitation. He has great feet and is
outstanding at pulling. Will start at left
Ross Huebel -- Has his private pilot's license. Has volunteered to fly the team to away games to
Cotey Joe Cswaykus -- He has an unbelievable gun
collection and I'm not talking about his arms. Will
start at right tackle.
Corey Laxen -- His dad is an electrician at Rice. A very talented athlete who should help us at
From Coach Farrar, defensive secondary/cornerbacks
Lance Byrd -- Projected starter. Started the last
4 games of 2003.
Played well in all 4 games and expect him
to be a big play guy on defense.
Raymorris Barnes -- Projected starter in the
fall. Started as a sophomore at corner. Played free
safety last fall. Moved back to corner in the spring
and nailed down the starting position. Had a great
spring and hope that his production will continue in
Dustin Haynes -- Off and on starter from '03
season. Very athletic and really came on strong at
the end of the spring. I count him in my starting
rotation with Lance and Raymorris.
Matt Ginn -- Spot played in the fall. Had a good
spring. I expect him to play lots this fall.
He is a big play guy and we have to get him in the
Jonathan Turner -- Redshirted last fall. Had a
great spring. He is very athletic and has lots of
ability. He will be a great player. He has things you can't coach and I will be excited to watch him play.
Hinshaw, defensive coordinator/safeties coach:
As Barney said the secondary looks good. Here are your 2004 safeties as
Terry Holley - senior - Terry had a great year in 2003. As afreshman
in 2000, he had major knee surgery. This past fall wasthe first time he showed no residual
effects. Terry is one of ourtop team leaders both on and off the field.
Clifford Sparks - senior - 2003 saw Cliff become one of our most
valuable resources. He made a position change from corner to rover in '03 and established
himself as one of the best punt cover and kick off cover men on the team. His
unselfishness is an example we all can follow.
Edgar Vega - senior - Edgar began his career as a walk-on. His effort
during practice everyday is a thing of beauty. Edgar is now on scholarship and his daily
effort has continued. There aren't very many teammates any better than Edgar Vega.
Mike Merrick - junior - Mike had a very tough 2003. He sustained a
severe ankle injury midway through the fall and was unable to come back and be as
effective as he was at the beginning of '03. He is looking forward to '04 after major
Trey Coleman - junior - Trey has become a vital member of our special
teams and is ready to step in and play where called on. He's a very competitive young man,
wanting to always know what he can do to help the team.
Chad Price - sophomore - Chad has developed into a play-maker very
early in his career. We see no ceiling on what he can accomplish. As he develops the
attention to detail each day in practice, his production will increase even more.
Andray Downs - sophomore - "Dray" made the switch from
corner back to free safety during our open week fast fall. He enjoyed spring practice
because he finally began to feel comfortable with his new position. He really loves to
play the game.
"Any kind of drawing back away from Division 1A totally, would have been
antithetical to Rices mission, to what the place is all about"
Things looking up,
head Owl tells us
on return from DC
HOUSTON (June 7) Freshly returned from a brief business trip to the
nations capital, Rice head football coach Ken Hatfield had nothing but good things
to say about the events transpiring the past few weeks in the athletic domain on South
Coach Hatfield said he was thankful that the Rice Board of Trustees gave full credence
to the letters and emails it received in support of Rice athletics.
"I think the biggest thing that I took out of it was the amount of support
that so many former players and friends of Rice athletics showed, in taking the time to go
into detail on how important it was to them, and what an impact its made on their
lives, throughout these last ninety-something years," Coach Hatfield told us.
"They didnt want all that to be thrown away just overnight."
A lot of the expressions of support came from people who had personally
benefitted, in one way or another, by having athletics at Rice at the highest level, he
It was gratifying to see some of Rices recent football graduates come back
and lead such an intelligent role in the fight for Rice athletics, Coach said.
Julian Duncan and Greg Gatlin, for example, who emceed the rally and then there
have been some absolutely wonderful letters that ex-lettermen have written. All of that
has been a source of major satisfaction, he added.
"Theres no doubt about it. When you start with Courtney Hall and what
hes accomplished, himself graduating from Rice at 20 years old; going into
the NFL; and just the things that hes been able to do and the way he can express
himself, what it meant to him. N. D. Kalu, other players whove gone on and gotten
their degree and had a chance to play professional football and then the others
whove learned a lot of lessons from the game of football, and now who are out in the
business world and the community; yet they still want to give back. Thats the real
crux of what youre trying to do with every person while theyre at Rice
University is be a giver, when you get out. Youre not going to have money
immediately, but whenever you have, find something to give back to."
"And thats what I think made me most pleased that they took
time to give back to a program that meant an awfully lot to them, or else they
wouldnt have done it."
"And I think that Rice means excellence. Rice definitely wants to compete
at the top level in everything. So I think any kind of drawing back away from Division 1A
totally, would have been antithetical to Rices mission, to what the place is all
Coach had been in DC testifying before Knight Commission
The Rice mentor had been in Washington, speaking before a congressional
commission studying intercollegiate athletics. "In Washington, I went to testify
before the Knight Commission," he told us during our brief visit Thursday. His
cohorts testifying before the Commission included three other current or former major
college football coaches Bill Curry, now with ESPN, R. C. Slocum, now with the
Texas A&M something-or-the-other, and Tyrone Willingham, from Notre Dame, along with
the Hat, in his capacity as current president of the American Football Coaches
"They had the American Football Coaches Association summer board meeting;
so I was in New Orleans for that, for a couple of days, and went from there to Washington
for one day, and then back home," Coach Hatfield said.
The Knight Commission is the instrument for a periodic review by Congress of the
status of intercollegiate athletics. Naturally, there was a lot to testify about.
"They do that up there in Washington about every ten years or so. They were
looking at everything," Coach said, "from post-season games, to recruiting, to
the arms race, to commercialization, to the new academic standards
trying to get the viewpoints of the coaches in all of those areas that are going to affect
the future of intercollegiate athletics."
Speaking of every ten years, it looks as if Rice tends to follow the same sort
of schedule in regards to a periodic examination of athletic goings on. The current
controversy appeared to have resulted in a stronger institutional commitment to athletics
than previously has been the case. But when it comes to recruiting and keeping the best
scholar athletes, did the event comprise bad publicity that will cause some negative
fall-out in the future? Ken Hatfield was candid in his response.
Looks as if all recruits stayed the course
"We dont know we dont believe anything negative
is going to happen," Coach replied. Rices recruiting coordinator, Coach Steve
Kidd, was careful to stay in touch with all the new recruits and their families throughout
the five-week period from the time the Board examination first became fully public, to the
date of the happy announcement on May 21, Coach told us.
Looks as if there are no defections, other than the earlier-announced departure
of Jonathan Carroll, who received an offer at Princeton and decided to go East, young man.
"But I think the most important thing was that we didnt know what we
legitimately could say for a long time," he added, "other than the one
commitment that we always talked to our young men about, even when we sign them. And that
is: when you sign a scholarship with us, youre signing with Rice University.
Youre not signing with the football program."
"And so Rice has a commitment to see that anybody whos signed for
that particular scholarship, if theyll keep their grades up, Rice will fulfill its
obligation to see that person is able to graduate. Thats certainly part of the
selling point to come to Rice -- the assurance of receiving a quality education and the
degree if you just do the work. Thats the case whatever happens on the field."
"Thats always the thing that we reassure them with. It doesnt
matter whether theres a program or not, if you sign with Rice University, their
commitment is going to be that your son or daughter will have a chance to graduate."
"And of course, there is going to be a program better than
Rice now only "Board-Certified" program in
In the event, it perhaps may be said that Rice is the only school in the country
whose athletics program is now "Board-certified" this programs
going to be around, and the subject of a renewed, major commitment, for a long, long
time.. Rice is committed to go forward. Can that be used as a selling point, we asked.
"You do see that there are a lot of transitions going on in college
athletics," Coach noted in reply. "Whether it be Vanderbilt, which reorganized
its athletic department last year; whether it be Colorado, with things that theyre
going to be doing different now in their athletic department, too -- I think that, from
time to time, if theres a way to enhance the program, then everything ties in to the
mission of your university."
"I think thats what our athletic programs have all done here. As
evidence, with a 91 per cent graduation rate, weve had 26 teams that have won
conference championships in the last ten years. Weve got people that are competing
in the nationals in track and tennis as we speak. Our track teams are both doing well, the
baseball team is going to regionals next week."
"So theres been a lot of contributions in a lot of different areas,
and that what makes Rice such a diverse place that there are all these places that
people can understand about Rice University, and what it has always stood for. It provides
leadership in a lot of facets in this country. And athletics is certainly a big part of it
and we appreciate the opportunity to continue to do that in the future."
Now comes a bit of a breather leading into the summer camps which the Rice staff
stages, beginning the third week of June. And then theres always film to review
lots of film.
"The big priority is just evaluating where we are, recruiting-wise, because
well have about 20 to recruit next year," Coach remarked, "and so
well want to be sure through the summer that weve got tabs on the people we
want to follow."
"We want to be at our best going into the season opener at Reliant with
Houston; and I think everybodys working out over the summer, and well stay in
touch with them to see how theyre doing. And I think thats the thing that will
stick in our players minds, too, that theyre looking forward to playing the
first game next year."
"It boils down to getting out and doing things that you naturally dont
want to do"
" I feel like that were perfectly capable of going out and winning the
WAC. Thats what we set out goals for this spring; thats what were going to be
setting our goals for this fall"
"I felt like at the beginning of last year, when we played U of H, we just
werent ready. We just werent ready to play a football game"
"Offense, defense everybodys just out here fighting hard to try
and make each other better"
"That enthusiasm the younger guys have can sometimes rub off on us older guys,
too. That makes us better players, as well"
no weighty matter
Owl safety ready to fly
to even loftier heights
HOUSTON (April 7) Terry Holleys ascent began so imperceptibly that
his coaches and teammates were scarcely aware of it. Then again, theyd had to have
been up at the crack of dawn to have noticed it at all.
Now, the 22-year-old multi-sport athlete from Oklahoma City stands at the top of his
particular peak of the college football world. Opposing offensive coordinators are
painfully aware of his exploits, and NFL scouts are drooling at the package of skills,
tools and intensity that this leader of the Rice defensive secondary exhibits, as he
stands at the cusp of a showcase senior season.
And it all started with those six-in-the-morning weight sessions.
"It boils down to getting out and doing things that you naturally
dont want to do," Terry told us after the Owls final spring scrimmage
Friday. "Last summer I somehow managed to roll out of bed at six in the morning to
work out I guess theres not too many guys my age who are going to want to get
up and lift weights at dawn, every day."
"Of course, I didnt want to," he admitted. "I just
came to the realization that being a success involves a commitment. In this case, I was
basically eliminating my night life, for the summer."
Right. You could say it was tantamount to a self-grounding leaving zero
room for the kind of hanging- out time that college guys thrive on.
"To get better, youve just got to make that kind of commitment. You
know, a lot of time in the weight room and I also made myself spend a lot of time
on the field, making myself concentrate on steps and footwork. Thing is, football is a
game thats played on the field, not in the weight room. But you need both, to
prepare. Its a lot, that goes into success."
Owl defensive leader came to Rice with
whos-who high-school bio
Terry was hardly unheralded, coming to Rice in 2000 as a much decorated
scholar-athlete from Oklahoma Citys Southeast High. As a four-year, two-way starter
for the Spartans, he rang up impressive passing and running stats at quarterback while at
the same time leading his defensive mates in tackles.
He was all-state and all-city as a senior but wait, weve skipped a
paragraph. That was in basketball. The guy was a 20-point-a-game man on the
hardwoods! And did we mention he carried a 3.9 high school GPA, made both academic and
athletic national Whos Who, and was Oklahoma Citys Student of the Year in
98 and 99?
Terry Holley was highly recruited and could have gone to a lot of places to play
football other than Rice. But a combination of factors kept leading him toward South Main.
Part of it was the coaches. The quality of education certainly was a consideration. The
kind of guys hed be playing with.
"It was a little bit of everything -- on a rational plane," Terry
said, as he strode slowly toward the dressing room. "But beyond that, there was
something more. It had to be God, who is the head of my life. And I feel He puts you in
places for a reason."
"When I first came to Rice, after a while I was kind of upset, you know,
because I felt I was its hard to explain somehow 'better' than Rice. I
was thinking that Id done so much in high school, blah, blah. But once I was able to
get acclimatized to the place, and I was able to realize and understand really what was
going on, I said, God put me here for a reason."
"And when Coach Hatfield had come out and visited me in my home, I was
really touched by the way he let me know that, while hes a head coach, he was the
kind of person whod take time to spend with a player who needs the attention, for
whatever reason. I decided: Thats the kind of coach I want to play for."
"And then along with that, academics is just such a big thing in my family.
My mom, especially, really wanted me to come here."
A low profile -- at first
Despite arriving with such heavy credentials and intense personal mandate, at
Rice Terry kept a low profile for a time. After blowing out a knee and redshirting his
freshman year, he moved to the defensive side and lettered in 2001; then saw action in all
11 games with one start as a soph in 02.
Still no big noise, but by last seasons August two-a-days, he had his
harbinger in the person of fellow Owl DB and kemo sabe Raymorris Barnes. What
happened in November last year, Ray had predicted in August.
"Terry and I, we were roommates together in the summer," he told us on
media day, "so we had a chance to spend some time together. There wasnt one
6:30 a.m. weight session that Terry missed. And then he worked out on his speed and
conditioning in the evenings; he worked out at least twice a day. So as far as putting on
weight, developing his conditioning and preparing his mind for the coming football season,
I have to put Terry Holley at the top of the list."
And then, sure enough, what Terry went out and did at the safety position last
year had Rice fans clamoring for more. In a breakout junior season, he dominated the stat
chart with a team-leading 92 tackles, as well as registering five tackles-for-loss, three
sacks, two interceptions for 55 yards returned, four passes broken up, two fumble
recoveries, and two blocked kicks.
But that wasnt the half of it. Where Terry Holley had his biggest effect
on the Owls 03 season lay in the fire he was able to light under the backsides
of his teammates on the defense, some time around mid-year. While the Owls were in the
midst of turning their season around, winning four out of their last six and durn near
running the table during that stretch, it was Terry who was the chief tub-thumper for
Rices defensive unit. A group of game, but green, secondary men gradually coalesced
around him as the schedule wore on, and by the season-ending 49-14 romp over LaTech, they
functioned as a well-oiled machine.
That same group returns basically intact for the coming season, and their straw
boss says Owl fans should expect them to pretty much pick up where they left off last
November. And spring practice performances left no reason to dampen that expectation
"The guysre coming along even better than Id expected,"
Terry told us. "Actually, it makes me more enthusiastic to have these younger guys
around; it has the effect of making me play better. It may sound funny, being that
Im the old guy of the bunch, but that enthusiasm the younger guys have
can sometimes rub off on us older guys, too. That makes us better players, as well."
He elaborated a bit.
Byrd, Price, Downs -- all blue chippers
"You have to start with Lance Byrd," Terry began. "Lance really
came on at the end of the season last year, as a really strong corner for us. Hes
gotten better; hes shown that he can be really strong and physical. Even those
hes a relatively small guy, hes really physical and hes not at all
afraid to get in there and mix it up with the big boys."
The next mentions came in no particular order of achievement these guys
all graded "A"during spring workouts.
"Its hard to say enough about Chad Price. The guy is athletic; and he
just has a knack for closing in on the ball. Hes always going to be doing things
that help us out. You know, during the season he went in really not knowing the play book
all that well, but he still managed to get better and better and contribute more and more
with each game. I think hes going to really help us in the fall."
"Andray Downs hes so fast out there that its
unbelievable. All those guys together, with as hard as they play, bring the level of
everybodys game up a notch. Im older, and so that kind of makes me like the
big brother to them. But Im feeding off of them and improving my game just as much
as any of them. Its just a great camaraderie that weve got going on out
This line of conversation obviously couldve gone on to mention several
more Owls, but it was time to turn attention to the just-ended spring drills. It seems the
expectation level of the Rice defensive brain trust was as high as the teams.
"We came into the spring workouts, and our coaches started us out, right
off the bat, with some blitzes," Terrry said. "Thats never happened
before, as long as Ive been here. So I was just thinking, like, OK, that means
theyre expecting that were just going to pick up where weve
left off, too."
"The team camaraderie is even better Im not just talking about
the relationship that we defensive backs have. Offense, defense everybodys
just out here fighting hard to try and make each other better."
Key to the season: be ready to play in September
Attitudes, the level of preparedness those factors loom crucial to
Rices chances for success in the coming 04 campaign. Ken Hatfields Owl
teams tend to be notoriously poor starters in September. Last year, that propensity,
combined with a very unfavorable schedule in which the Owls spent practically the entire
first month of the season on the road, spelled early disaster.
But this year, Rice plays its first three games at home. Theyll all be
tough-- but there wont be any of them that the Owls wont be completely capable
of winning. Thus, starting off on the right foot is so very important, Terry allowed.
"The first two games are the big key," he said, referring to the
Owls home openers with UH and, er, UH the University of Houston and Hawaii --
in consecutive weeks. "If we win those two, were off to a good start, and one
that we can build on. Early wins would provide some energy that we can feed off of, as the
season goes along."
That suggests some basic goals for August two-a-days for Terry Holley and his
fellow teammates in the defensive secondary.
"Its more than a matter of just keeping on doing what were
doing," he said. "Its going to take a special effort. I mean, I felt like
at the beginning of last year, when we played U of H, we just werent ready. We just
werent ready to play a football game."
"So that has to be the number one priority, going into August two-a-days
to prepare ourselves, and be ready to play, once that opening kickoff comes
So how far can this team go?
"Being out here with these guys, and knowing everybodys
capabilities," the Rice defensive sparkplug said, " I feel like that were
perfectly capable of going out and winning the WAC. Thats what we set out goals for
this spring; thats what were going to be setting our goals for this fall."
"Its everything. Its really everything."
--Paul T. Hlavinka