|The Joyce Hardy Archives
FROM THE DISTAFF END OF THE BENCH
Notes and Comments from Rice's No. 1 Fan
By Joyce Pounds Hardy '45
My last column
I guess I knew that this day would come, but still it's hard to give up something I have
loved doing for (how many?) 13 or 14 years. The old girl has reached the end of the bench.
I just don't have that feistiness anymore that has kept a little spark in my columns.
Remember in the beginning, Paul, you asked me to share some memories, and I
reveled in comparing our present games to Rice football teams in the 40's.
I remember how few perks they had, how they played on muddy fields, so muddy
that you couldn't see the yard markers? The old helmets that folded under their arms were
not much protection , but certainly easier to carry than the ones worn today, that's for
sure, but they looked good to us.
We used to play where the Track is now and many a splinter came off those old
benches and still do. It's easy to remember crazy happenings, but I remember more about
the players than the places, the smart ones and the intellectually- challenged ones of the
Kids who went to war, 17 or 18 years old and came back men who became bankers
and doctors, but the great majority of them became teachers and coaches.
I do remember my girlfriends and I sitting in the rain watching the guys play, all the
heartaches of war, my Rice rolling with the punches, rationing, the loss of friends,
professors and athletes, especially football players, who joined the Marines en masse.
After the war, our guys came back for that degree and we had amazing teams and
Southwest Conference Titles and Trophies. They were so grateful to be home that everything
was fun. 70,000 fans were filling Rice Stadium every game.
Yes, I was there, but only in spirit. By then I had a Rice Navy doctor-husband
and we were stationed far away. I finally came back to Rice, too, and finished my degree
with twenty years and five children between my sophomore year and my junior year.
I know sometimes I fussed at our teams because I thought they didn't play with enough
spirit. Football was a tough job and even though the Coach kept saying, " just go out
there and have fun,." that was probably the farthest thing from their minds.Yeah,
just don't make any mistakes that will cost us the game. Sure, no pressure there.
Still I believe that Rice can be the best at anything it wants to be. Even
though our star sorta lost its shine lately, our athletes didn't, they pursue a Rice
Degree as hard as they fight for a first down. After all, that's what it's all about..
Every generation has made Rice proud, we have a great history (going on 100 years) and
sports have been a part of Rice's tradition from the beginning.
Lord knows I have been around for most of those years, well almost, and I'm
beginning to feel like it. My energy is running on low and it seems as though I am a full
time job all by myself. My children are surprised that I am finally trying to say no to
some very special things in my life, and this is one of them..
Thank all of my readers for laughing with me, cheering with me, and understanding why I
keep blathering on about Rice, Rice, Rice.. Simply put, I love it. It has been a part of
my life for as long as I can remember. I know that in my columns through the years you
have found out more about me and my family than you wanted to know, but You could have
turned off the computer.
Thank Heavens you didn't.
Joyce, any inkling that you were anything else than Rice's number one fan,
supporter, booster, lover of all things Owl, is swept aside by the thought that you have
come to relinquish this particular role. Sammy is crying, and we all cry with him. But we
rejoice at the fact that you are still with us, and with the Owl teams, bubble gum, red
hots and all, and hope and pray that your presence may continue for many years yet into
the future. You are irreplaceable.
Editor's note: Joyce Pounds Hardy graduated from the Institute in its athletics glory
days. She sent a whole generation of Hardy children to Rice, as both students and student-
athletes -- that familiarly-named classmate of yours was almost surely one of them. Joyce
has been among Rice's most omnipresent, loyal, never-say-die fans since before most of you
were born -- and you'd better believe she's managed to develop an opinion or two about
Rice athletics over the years. We're extremely happy to be able to welcome her back to our
pages. And to those of you relative newcomers who haven't had the opportunity yet to
sample her thoughts, be prepared for a treat -- and be ready, also, to learn some things
you didn't know about our storied university and its rich history.
For more on Joyce, see The tradition
lasts long after the flavor is gone, Rice News, July, 2007.
MORE OF JOYCE'S COLUMNS FROM THE 2010 SEASON...
What happened to team that battled Texas?
By Joyce Pounds Hardy, Class of 45, BA '67
HOUSTON (Sept. 27) --Normally, I love rain, but not in the middle of a ballgame.
Lightning, thunder, storms... I want to be curled up somewhere reading a good book. But
nature doesn't ask me when or where. And it surely didn't on Saturday night.
I would like to report that it was the weather that messed us up, but it wasn't. Off
again, on again didn't hurt Baylor. Mostly as hard as I pushed and prayed we couldn't
squeeze our first downs over the goal line . That one burst of McGuffie's run for our lone
touchdown was a surprise. Most of us had given up hoping that there would ever be a hole
someone could run through for a touchdown. A little late but ever welcome.
Where were the plays that confused Texas? The first quarter held that same great promise,
we marched down the field with confidence, and made every set of downs add up to one first
down after another til we got to the promised land. In this game we seemed to doom our
runners to a crushing wall of green and gold. And my Owls got smushed.
My observation has been that Fanuzzi gives himself away when he passes because he always
looks at his primary receiver, making him an easy target, never looking for an alternative
open man, which seemed to me like telegraphing his punches and setting his receiver up for
a waiting crowd. It's probably easy for us to follow the three or four receivers going out
from way up in the stands, but it's tough to see an open man wasted when he breaks free.
And just once I would like to see our receivers run past the first down marker before
turning to receive the pass. We haven't had to suffer "three yards and a cloud of
dust" in a long time. Of course Fanuzzi didn't have a lot of time to think about it,
he was so busy looking at the sideline to see who was waving his arms to tell him what to
do and then hurry-up and tell the team what they are supposed to do and then do it before
time ran out. If that seems like a run-on sentence, it is.
.I am not in favor of the hurry-up offense, I like the ofd fashion huddle like the pros
use. At least they know what the play is going to be all at the same time, get set and
think about what their jobs are. All of that arm waving and head tapping--reading the
zone, changing the play at the line, moving the ends from one side to the other---doesn't
seem to be confusing the opponents as much as it is us.
I hurt for the guys who got hit over and over by those tackles, never did just one man
bring a runner or a receiveer down, but tons of them. Baylor's linemen were not only 40
pounds heavier than our heaviest, but they were faster. Their speed was the killer. I
noticed that our receivers ran straight patterns, never seeming to zig or zag or stop and
curl back to get the defenders off their backs and give the passer an open shot.
But what do I know? I'm in charge of bringing Red Hot Tamales to the team at practice
every Thursday afternoon, and I let them down this week. So, forgive me, guys. But
sometimes ordinary people like me have to make choices, and I chose to attend the $1000
Black Tie Dinner that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in support of Rice
Athletics. It was not my first choice, but somebody's got to pay the bills.
Any time you beat the odds and win its sweet
Now, about that radio station....
By Joyce Pounds Hardy, Class of 45, BA '67
HOUSTON (Sept. 12) -- Well, this will not be the happy report I
wanted it to bebut not because of the football game. That was one of the finest
examples of overcoming adversity and emerging victorious Rice has enjoyed in a long time.
I wanted us to be as sharp and tough as we were against Texas, but it didnt happen.
UNT was favored so the victory was sweet, anytime you beat the odds and win its
sweet. Kudos to all the guys who fought so hard to make that W end up on our side of the
However, since Rice won the game, I imagine that North Texas had
more missed opportunities than we did. I say imagine because I
never really heard the game. I tried the old 97.5 FM on my $100 transistor and never got a
peep from Beaumont . Maybe my car would have gotten the game but I didnt have a car
Why Rices secret sale of our KTRU to University of Houston
couldnt have bargained for a better sports station for us, I dont know. The
whole deal sounded fishy to me. How is Rice ever going to increase its radio fans if they
cant hear the games? .I wont give up trying, but Im pretty sure they
would. By the way, I dont know if our new AD thinks that ESPN is as great a radio
station as it is a TV station, but believe me, the radio station stinks.
So, as much as I hate the computer, I dialed in Owlvision, hit
Watch and nothing appeared. How could I have been so na´ve? So then I hit
Listen. and what I heard was a cacophony of Babel . Davids voice
of Rice sports, came through loud and clear with three voices speaking about 3
seconds apart. Even when I was watching Gametracker they babbled on. He just wouldnt
shut up. Finally it drove me to find the mute button, but even Mute
didnt silence him. I think my computer was getting back at me for being so cranky.
Im sorry to complain again, but it always seems to be only
me who cant get the game. Thats not good when I have to write a column. When I
listen to games on the radio, I write down every play, quarter by quarter, and make notes
to myself along the way. Today, I have no notes. Of course I have the newspaper write-up
on the game, but that didnt help me feel anything.
As much as I was pulling for McHargue, he didnt seem as
sharp after that 51 yard touchdown pass to McGuffie. No doubt UNT plugged a few holes
after that. I was thinking how cool our ALL-Scots Backfield was when they started to mess
us up.. I didnt hear the game, but I watched those little blue and green men zip up
and down the field on Gametracker. Any great play was usually followed by a long period of
nothing before the little men made another dash on the gridiron, only to wait again to see
where the ball went on the next play...Patience is not one of my strong suits, so
Ill admit that I fell asleep a few times. The cacophony droned on and on, but even
that couldnt keep me awake.
That has never happened before, but it did. I will be so glad to
be back in Rice Stadium again Saturday where I know the team can hear me yelling as can my
fellow boxmates. No one doubts that those red Hot Tamales have fired up the team, and
Ill be there Saturday to light the fire.
'A fun team to watch'
Owls didn't let us down
By Joyce Pounds Hardy, Class of 45, BA '67
HOUSTON (Sept. 6) -- Saturday was extra- ordinary. Our Rice Owls battled to the end,
they were fired up the whole game, they were exciting to watch because they played hard
for 60 minutes; and for the first time in a lonnnnnng time we were in the game the whole
way. A little repetitious, but that was sweet.
That first quarter, I was about as stunned as the Longhorns. Not that I don't believe
in our team, it's just that I had gotten used to being smothered right off the bat by the
Mighty Longhorns. They had gotten used to it too, evidently, because they came right out,
squared up their burnt orange jerseys, and were surprised that we didn't fall over dead.
Instead, Rice marched down the field, using 14 plays for 7 whole minutes, until the red
zone stacked UT on the goal line, and they held us to a field goal. It was a new feeling
for an old Owl. I was yet again a student here in '94 when we beat Texas the last time. I
remember the students tore down the goal post and carried it around the field for a
delirious celebration. The University made the students pay for a new goal post, but the
coach was so overcome with joy that he paid for it.
Now back to that First Quarter. I had sons on both sides of me, they jumped up, but for
some reason, I was glued to my seat. Larry, the Owl, said, " that was a victory for
Rice, they marched 70 yards on the opening possession and got a field goal. The game is
already better than I thought it would be." But the Owls didn't let up. They fought
for four whole quarters, showing no fatigue, no lessening of enthusiam, no fear of the
Number 5 Texas Longhorns.
It doesn't take much to make me proud of my Owls, or should I say, prouder than I already
am. But that remark by Lou Holtz on the half-time show made me like him even more than I
already did. He said with an appreciative smile on his face, "Rice is a fun team to
watch!" And so we were.
Taylor McHargue shrugged off the freshman jitters, made some ill-timed reverses, some
unfortunate passes, and a few "he who hesitates gets sacked." but the good news
is that he hung in there and proved that he was going to be a great quarterback who just
happened to start his college career against the University of Texas. He went down but
bounced right back up, nothing broke.
Sam McGuffie made some great runs, and against slower teams, he might have better luck
going forward. I don't think that I have ever wanted a running back or a quarterback to
just fall down. There certainly would have been fewer negative yards. But they were
hustling, they started us out with new expectations and they didn't let us down.
So many heroes who made our team so competitive, 11 tackles by Bradshaw (he was
everywhere,) great punts by Martens, Smith's and Turner's run-backs and run through's,
Randolf's and Kitchen's timely catches (especially the freaky touchdown,) Yelovich's
interminable pooch kicks, and all the guys in between who made the offense and the defense
a mountain for Texas to climb.
I'll admit that I was in the middle of an orange crowd even on the Rice side and I didn't
like it. However, I did enjoy the subdued Longhorns during those seven minutes of relative
quiet. Rice was yelling but it was swallowed up by 70,000 Longhorns inhaling. I had the
misfortune of sitting directly behind a young woman (presumably a freshman or a sophmore,)
who never sat down, was resplendant in burnt orange, and who never put her right arm down,
shaking those horns incessantly. By the end of the game, she was still standing like the
Statue of Liberty hailing a cab in New York. I probably will never see her again, but
she'll have a torn rotator cuff by the time she's a senior, and won't be able to spoil my
view of my Owls giving her Longhorns a real run for their money.
FROM THE DISTAFF END OF THE
Notes and Comments from Rice's No. 1 Fan
By Joyce Pounds Hardy '45 '67
Four big Owl wins on
birthday weekend is icing on the cake
It's not about
one game, it's about the rest of your life
HOUSTON (Nov. 30) -- This last column should be happy, contented, fulfilled,
and proud. Well, no one is happy, contented, or fulfilled this season, but nothing can
diminish our pride in these young men, who they are and whom they will become. That will
not diminish because of one game or one season. I have not been singing blue, grey,
in the skyRice fight, never die for 60 years to quit singing it now.
I have lived through worse years than this, but the old fight never
died. Some of Sundays pundits who wrote about Rice Football as if it were dead, see
only black and white, the good and bad of the moment. There is no gauge to measure the
power of heart when it comes to winning. or they wouldnt have the gall to say
quit now because you will never have the talent the big boys have. How quickly
they have forgotten last year and our two All-Americans, Dillard and Casey, one of which
was a two time All-America. Both are playing in the Pros as rookies. Sportswriters are
like Weathermen who get to keep their jobs in spite of being wrong half the time.
I watched the game and its true there were very few bright spots for
RiceRoss, Smith on offense and Bradshaw, Solomon, and Ozoukwu on defense. Five does
not a team make--especially since Houston looked better than the Texans did Sunday. I
didnt think much of our play calling scheme. I expected more new stuff that Houston
hadnt seen, but then maybe they just never came to fruition.
I found myself counting the number of Cougars on the field because there
seemed to be two of them for every one of us on offense and defense. I was surprised by
the quickness of their runners, and the speed with which Keenum released the ballhe
didnt hold onto it but a second before he lasered it to a usually wide-open
receiver. I still think Rice had the horses, we just didnt seem to know what to do
I watched the game but not in person because the best tickets Mark could get
for me were some 18 rows up in the upper section and my broken right foot couldnt
make it. In spite of that, I was happy with hope that Rice would give Houston a good race
for its money. One small problem, I had to go over to my sister Bettyes house to
watch the game because my new UVerse still didnt have Comcast or CBSCS or CSS or
whatever it is called. Only other problem was that she is a Cougar.
She doesnt really watch a game, she sits with me, sewing on something
or working crossword puzzles, or hopping up to do something in the kitchen. She
doesnt talk if Rice is playing because she knows I dont answer. But on this
night, she curled up in her lounge chair and watched every play, and every time Houston
made a touchdown, she would giggle. She is not a giggler, but for some reason that game
had her saying hmmmmm! and giggling all night. I glared at her a couple of
times, but she laughed and said, Im sorry, I cant help it. After
awhile, I was saying ummmm too, but for a different reason.
As usual, I have rambled on without knowing where to start or where to end.
One thing I am sure of is that I will miss the Seniors, and I know they will miss those
maybe-not-so-lucky-all-the-time red Hot Tamales. Just remember Ill be cheering for
you when you graduate with a degree you will be proud of for the rest of your life--after
all thats what these past four years were all about.
HOUSTON (Nov. 23) -- RICE- 30, UTEP-29 RICE-30, UTEP-29 RICE-30, UTEP-29.
That game was as sweet as the icing on my birthday cake tonight. It was the last of the
Extra Point Clubs football dinners, which always honor our Seniors. So I got lots of
hugs and one huge surprise. A rousing chorus of Happy Birthday and a beautiful
birthday cake with one candle on it. Of course, I wished for a victory over Houston
Saturday, blew out the candle and everyone cheered.
What a weekend that was! the Lady Owls were hosting the Conference USA Volleyball
Tournament at Tudor Field House, and our Owls were seeded #4 out of 8. I had hoped we
would make a good showing, and we did, beating #5 seed Marshall on Friday. Saturdays
match was against #1 Seed Southern Mississippi scheduled to start right in the
middle of the football game.
My heart was trying to be in two places at one time. Rushing from the Stadium and
parking illegally in front of the gym, we arrived in time to see Rice win the last game
and beat the best in the league 3 out of 4 games. We made the Championship bracket against
No #2 seed, Tulsa (our nemesis) to be played at 1 pm on Sunday. Rice won that match and
the CUSA Championship, which means an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
Why am I talking about volleyball in the middle of a football column? Mostly because I
love my Lady Owls, and secondly, to tell you that our entire football team, dressed in
their neat blue warmups arrived on the team bus and filed into Tudor to cheer for the Rice
Women Friday night.. Now, that was class. They filled the student section and the building
with their raucous yells. I KNOW the Ladies were wowed by it. On the way to the hotel that
Friday night, Coach Bailiff brought them to the gamean amazing and much appreciated
gesture of supportwhich probably had a lot to do with the victory.
I got to holler to all my friends on the football team as they passed by, that was a
plus, but the plus for them was that all of the other teams players were in the
standslots of good-looking girls. Coach Bailiff told us as he brought up the rear
after the game was over, pushing his boys toward the bus, that his guys were moving so
slowly, looking both ways and dragging their feet, that he wasnt sure they would
make the hotel by curfew. Anyway four victories in one weekend was almost more than this
old heart could take.
It didnt take long for me to realize that Rice wanted this win against UTEP for
the Seniors. It was a game of magic happenings and unbelievable plays. For once Lady Luck
was on our side. Of course, our fierce Defense didnt wait for luck, they caused five
fumbles with ferocious tackles and five timely recoveries. The Offense used all five
takeaways to put points on the board. The two fumbles by UTEP on kickoffs were the most
exciting because we ended up being within spitting distance of the goal line. And for once
we made them count with touchdowns. Probably the most unique break we got all afternoon
was the forced fumble by superstar Buckram into the endzone and out again for a touchback.
So instead of UTEP making a touchdown , Rice got the ball on the 20 and we were off again.
The Seniors were making sure that their last game in Rice Stadium was a memorable one.
I still find it hard to believe that Rice passed only 17 times for 55 yards. That
statistic is unreal in todays pass-happy world. And only 24 running plays to their
45! Our phenom Ross made three touchdowns using just 4 yards: one for 1 yard, one for 2
yards, and one for 1 yard. Amazing. One of my sons said that Rices Modus Operandi in
the earlier games was a strong last half of the first half and not much after that. But
not against Tulane and not against UTEP.
Hey! Lets face it! It was R time!
Homecoming, rousing win left Owls happy,
HOUSTON (Nov. 17) -- It was some good old-fashioned home cooking for Rices
Homecoming Game, and for all the Alums who were hungry for a win, the victory sent them
home with a warm and fuzzy feeling on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.
From the Distaff End of the Bench
The weekend was busy, starting Thursday with the Lady
Owls Volleyball Team, playing their last home game. It was Senior Day and Rice won, so it
was a great preamble for the Conference USA Tournament this coming weekend at Rice. That
was just the beginning. Friday was full of activities, alums filling the campus, wandering
around the beautiful grounds. I was ready for the first game of the Mens Basketball
Tournament at Tudor Field House. Naturally, with Frankie B. providing dinner, and the team
winning an exciting game for Rice...
Saturday started at 8 am with a Past Presidents breakfast, game festivities began
at Noon in huge Alumni Tents outside the stadium before the football game with ten
thousand of my closest friends eating Goode Co. Barbeque with me. Then the Rice-Tulane
football game in all its glory (Praise be for the victory!), followed by the second game
of the basketball tourney with a Frankie B. dinner before the gameagain. That was #3
for the day and another victory.
Sunday started with a Memorial Service on Campus which I was participating in for a
dear friend, immediately followed by another Frankie B. meal and the final game of the
Basketball Tourney. Rice won the tournament and all three games.
I was so tired (and full) after those four days that I couldnt see or think to
write this column. My wonderful football game got swallowed up in the plethora of events
and all this old Rice Owl wanted to do was take a nap.
However, Sunday morning I did find enough energy to run out and get the Chronicle so I
could read about the game. That little 2x4 inch photo on the front page of the Sunday
Sports Section and a 1x2 inch blurb announcing our victory over Tulane was sweeter than a
billboard on Main Street . RICE 28--TULANE 20 .
After so many weeks of disappointments, watching the jubilation of the players and the
coaches, the fans and the students as they celebrated on the field after the game was a
beautiful sight and it was all I needed to feel warm and fuzzy, too. We stayed up in the
stands, watching the celebration and basking in all the happiness of winning that had
eluded that good team for nine games.
I heard that the students who ran down on the field after the game surrounded Coach
Bailiff first, a great tribute to a coach who never quit believing in his players or
talking to the students after every game which was a brave thing to do. All of the pent-up
expectations of this season exploded on the field, celebrating that first victory and
looking like the team that we all hoped it would be, that we all prayed it would be and
Sure, we had a lot of bad breaks and injuries, a lot of missing starters and
playmakers, but those who were left to carry the games never gave up on each other. People
talked about what a character-building year this was, well, one thing is for sure, there
never was any doubt about the character of this team, it was and is solid, 1 through 99.
The wins would come. I believed because they believed, but maybe, just maybe, they
believed because I believed in them and those Red Hot Tamaleswhich are 1 and 9 now,
but 10 for 10 in spirit.
At the football dinner Monday night (another Frankie B. mealnumber 4 for the
weekend,) the same crowd was there, no more, no lessloyal to the core because they
love Rice Football. The quarterbacks were our guests for the night and what a special
group they are. Coach Bailiff was jolly, happy, proud, and smiling as he spoke tonight, he
could speak of all the good things the game held, instead of having to explain the
unexplainable, he could revel in the victory and brag on his players.
The weekly gathering of boosters was quiet tonight except for applause and a few people
asking him about injuries.. No one pummeled him with questions, no one rambled on about
what he should have done, no one asked him about UTEP. Everyone just kept smiling. The
afterglow of winning obviously mellowed the whole group.
Clicking on all cylinders -- but what
happened to our win?
HOUSTON (Nov. 9) -- When the Rice-SMU game was over, I felt as if I had a seat belt on.
I couldnt get out of my chair. We were so close, I didnt want the game to end.
This day we had the will and the way to win. We matched them point for point until the end
when our four-leaf clover lost a leaf. We pulled off some great marches down field and
turned them into points this time. We did not die in the red zone, we turned those marches
Coach Zs offensive plan was a good mix of plays and it was working. Even the
Wildcat had SMU puzzled. Missed blocks and tackles were down to a minimum. Fanuzzi was
firing that ball on target and our ends were catching it. We were clicking on all
cylinders. Look at the score. I could already see it on the scoreboard: 23 to14. RICE! at
the Half. But No. It wasnt to be. A blocked field goal was left uncovered and SMU
ran it all the way back for a touchdown, erasing the heady score I had imagined.
Im tired of saying so close. I didnt make 1s in Math 100
at Rice, (Rice graded 1,2,3,4,5 dating back to the Stone Age, and didnt change to
A,B,C,D,F until the 1960s,) but 1+3+3= a win over SMU. Those points were givens.
Clark , our Mister Automatic (as the Texans called Brown until he missed that
tying field goal Sunday) didnt miss those kicks, no, the unthinkable happened:
block, block, block.
Woulda, coulda, shoulda wont dig us out of this hole were
in, but the skills were there Saturday, the improvement and the enthusiasm were there on
that field with our guys. I didnt see the game, I was listening on the radio, but I
could feel every play and see every face.. All I had to do was close my eyes and I could
see those two touchdowns, Fanuzzi to Randolph , because I had seen that same throw, that
same catch over and over in practice.
I marvel at the resilience of this team. We, as fans, are not very resilient; we
grumble and pout and lose hope. The losses are wearing us out, wimps that we are, because
we are safe up in the stands, safe to criticize and second-guess and complain. After all
we were 10 and 3 last year, what happened? The unexpected happened, and you can see them
dressed in blue warm-ups on the side-lines, starters and upperclassmen, out for the
season, leaving 18 year old kids to fill the holes.
Were running out of games, but Im not giving up on them. Im going to
throw away that three-leaf clover and put my faith in this turn-around because I believe
they have finally got it together.
It's not true, guys, it just
isn't true -- we're still here
Time to buck up--four winnable games remain on the schedule. Yes, four
NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 26) --This
column will be short, not because of the game, but because I was in Florida for my
granddaughter's wedding over the weekend. And for the fact that I am at a loss of words
for a change.The wedding was a pure joy--my granddaughter is a dear one AND she is
marrying a soon-to-be PhD graduate of Rice. Life is good. I am not so sure about Rice
Truthfully, tucked away in the quaint little town of New Smyrna Beach, my mind and my
heart were far from Rice. The wedding was on the beach facing the Atlantic Ocean, and it
was a beautiful ceremony. Everyone was dressed formally, but all the young ones were
barefoot, including the mothers of the bride and groom. It was at sunset, Saturday, and
not once did I think about Rice vs Central Florida. Usually, no matter where I am, my mind
ticks off the hours of our away games and I hold my breath until I know the score. But not
However, when I opened my door Sunday morning, there was the New Smyrna Beach Gazette
lying on the carpet with a full writeup about Central Florida beating Rice 49-7. It ruined
my breakfast. Since the article was mostly about Central Florida 's victory, it was full
of the Golden Knights' prowess. All seven of the touchdowns were described in full-color
words. The few sentences about Rice described the seven fumbles, three of which they
"pounced on" and the nine turnovers which they "caused." They even had
the stats, which I could have done without.
Thank heavens, we have a week off after our off-week. I was unhappy that I didn't get
to give the boys their red Hot Tamales on Thursday and I grappled with the idea that if
they won, they wouldn't want any more. I tried to give them out Wednesday afternoon, but
the team wasn't at Rice Stadium, they had all gone to the "Bubble." I have gone
there with them before, but Wednesday it was really raining and the powers-that-be won't
let me take "food" inside. Last time I was allowed to give them a handfull of
Hot Tamales by the outside gate, but this day, even though my son, Buck, offered to hold
an umbrella over my head, I knew that the boys would get wet waiting in line and so would
I deserve an E for effort, though it didn't count for much: and so does our football team.
No one can tell me that they weren't giving it all they had. Somewhere along the line,
they have lost confidence in what they can do. That happens when you have been beaten
eight times in a row. These guys have hearts and minds, too, and believe me, they are
giving the game the best they've got. It may not be enough, but never sell them short on
courage, because courage is what it takes to go back out on that football field every
Saturday thinking that no one believes in them anymore...and that's not true, guys, that's
Well appears to have run dry,
but Joyce still thirsty for win
HOUSTON (Oct. 20) -- I guess I can quit saving my money for a Bowl Game. Ive
run out of Oh, Wells because the wells have gone dry for now. That
doesnt keep me from being thirsty for a win. Believe me, that wont be quenched
until our first victory, and that will come. I am still an irrepressible hoper.
From the Distaff End of the Bench
No sense going over the game; Im sure you
listened to it, too, and are now living not with anger and frustration but puzzlement.
Coach says he sees the team execute in practice, but it fails to materialize on Saturday.
My observation on Thursdays is that they are focused, indeed running perfect routes with
receptions, keepers and slants and pitch-outs easily making it through the holes, defense
blocking just like the xs and os show on paper, virtual tackles knocking
opponents off their feet. But in practice they dont have rabid players in purple or
green or red coming at them with fire in their eyes.
They could have made those needed yards if two
tacklers hadnt been hanging onto their shirts; that receiver could have caught that
perfect pass if he werent sandwiched between two defenders; they could have made
that first down if the referees hadnt been blind and flag-happy again; they could
have stopped that 92 yard run if they had practiced spotting a gazelle running for the
goal line while getting knocked off their feet.
Practices have no contact and that computes into a whole different ballgame. If there
were some way to wave a magic wand and transform the whole team into mature young players,
maybe that would make a difference, but life doesnt work that way. So our guys are
maturing the hard wayone game at a time, having to cope with one more missed tackle,
one more missed block, one more missed pass, one more loss.
One of our radio announcers quoted one of the coaches as saying, Dont
expect Fanuzzi to run, hes a drop-back passer. I dont think that could
possibly be true. It seems to me that such a statement would give our opponents a great
advantage. I dont want Nick to hurt his shoulder again, but theres nothing
wrong with his feet and he does a pretty good job of scrambling for yardage. Well, not
this game, he was minus a few yardsbut then maybe the other team heard that quote.
There are so many exciting things about this team, so many good years to come for them
and us. The seniors will be missed--the seniors are always missed--but the freshmen and
sophomore classes coming up are as talented a bunch as any weve ever had, and
theyre going to take us back to a Bowl. Of course, the juniors will be
tomorrows leaders, and knowing them, they will be good ones.When this season ends,
they will know what it takes to be winners.
I didnt envy the team their long flight home, it was hard enough on me just
turning off the radio and Owlvision and walking back to the den. At least, I didnt
have to talk to anybody on the way. That is until Buck called on the phone and said,
Hmmmmm. Not much to cheer about. And I said, Hmmm, not much. Then
he added, Dont write your column for a few days, Mother, until you calm
down." "Sure," I said, and that ended my day.
Might as well be optimistic
I just looked for the Mid who was running fastest toward goal line
HOUSTON (Oct. 13) -- Well, what
can I say? We took a licking and kept on ticking. And I know we will. If that
game was frustrating for me, I cant even imagine how frustrating it was for the
team. As I watched the players being interviewed after the game, all I could do was think
how cruel that was. It would be like asking me how I feel right after my house burned
down. How they must dread being drilled right after losing a game, much less number six.
Coach Bailiff, its too bad he cant just say hes sick and go home. If
youre looking for answers, so is he. Quit sticking a microphone in his face right
after the last whistle is blown and complaining that his answers sound canned. Hes
angry and embarrassed and disappointed. What else can he say that he hasnt already
I was bemoaning the fact that the triple option
never worked that well for us when Coach Hatfield was the triple option guru at Rice; and
Larry said "yes, it did. Dont you remember that one year we were number two in
the nation in offense?" Of course, I didnt, but my son who has a very young
working memory did, so I quit gritching. I guess there were a lot of teams in the NCAA
"back in those days," who didnt know how to defend against the triple
From the Distaff End of the Bench
I thought that Dobbs, the Navys quarterback as if you didnt know, was
hogging the ball and being selfish, finding holes everywhere to run through. But when I
read the stats in the Sunday paper, I counted 13 other players who had gotten credit for
running the ball, too. Dobbs was pretty sneaky, but that surprised me. Half the time I
couldnt find the ball anyway, I just looked for the guy who was running the fastest
toward the goal line.
This years number one official penalty must be Holding. Our crew hardly had time
to get the flags back in their pockets before they whipped them out again. Once during the
first half, they threw five flags on four consecutive plays. They must have earned some
gold stars on the NCAAs bulletin board for that performance. Every year there is an
emphasis on something different. I can remember just a few years back, when we
couldnt get a flag thrown for holding, even when the shirt was being pulled off our
It was good to see Nick back in the game. He didnt get a lot of help even though
the line gave him some pretty good protection. It seemed to my rabid box of Rice Owls,
well, 6 out of 8 of us, that the speed of Nicks passes messed up the receivers.
There certainly wasnt anything wrong with his shoulder, his arm was throwing
I did get to watch one of our touchdowns, but the
second one was obscured by the defender and I couldnt believe it when Patrick came
running out from behind him holding the ball over his head. I thought the ball had gone
out of the end zone. The replay screen is great when and if you look immediately from the
official arms-up-TD-signal to the screen, but I always enjoy watching the team celebrate
and forget to turn my head around at Mach speed. Cant they wait until after the PAT
for the turtle here or show it twice? Believe me, if touchdowns keep on being rare,
youd be wise to show them twice.
Everyones head was down after the game, either shaking it or scratching it. But
the Owley Tailgate was good, the NASA Astronauts were good, the Moon Rock was good, the
Houston Livestock and Rodeo Barbeque was good. .Only the game was a stinker. If were
going to keep on ticking, somebody better wind us up before Saturday.
Who'll be the Glue we need?
Someone is going to step up
HOUSTON (Oct. 6) -- I wish it had kept on raining.
It was the great equalizer in the first half, at least the score was tied,
10-10again. Then we just sort of fizzled out like the rain. The weather was yucky
and so was the outcome of the game.
There were about ten guys down on the field in
front of me wearing blue warm-upsRices walking woundedand there probably
wasnt one of them who wasnt thinking, Man, if only I were out
. And in the second half, there were probably a lot of guys on the field
who were wishing they were out there, too.
Ryan upended, flipped, squashed, knocked down, and piled on, until I heard myself yelling
Oh, no! dont hurt him! over and over again. It just seemed as if every
time we got a little momentum going, something burst the bubble. We certainly should have
had a couple more touchdowns IF, on those rare occasions the passes that should have been
caught were caught, or would have been caught were they catchable or not intercepted. Our
running backs ran through brick walls to grind out some tough yardage. Why do I feel as if
a little black cloud is following us aroundand I dont mean rain?
From the Distaff End of the Bench
Ryan and John Thomas only have the luxury of a pocket for about 5 seconds; and even
though our receivers can run 4.2 forties, they cant always do that in a crowd or
looking over their shoulders for the ball. And in that split-second our quarterbacks have
to find them and they cant, theyve got to keep those feet moving or die
trying. I am always amazed when the ball and the receiver converge in the same place,
hopefully over the goal line or past the first down marker, at least. One thing I have
learned is that time is a fickle thing and doesnt wait on the best of plays to
develop. Especially ours.
Coach said that he wanted the virus of success infecting this program. I
disagree because there arent any good virusesthey all make you sickbut I
would like for our Rice football scientists to find a cure for the virus of losing that we
already have. Developing a cure will be no easy task on the football field because the
virus seems to change with every game.
The first half of our games have become memorable, a solid defense and an offense that
gives us hope. I loved the five sacks, the blitzes that worked, the flustered Tulsa
quarterback with nowhere to go. I was enjoying this. Then Tulsa came out in the second
half running. It was hard to sack their quarterback when he handed off the ball in less
than a second or took off running. I kept hollering rush the quarterback, but
by the time our linebackers got into their backfield, he and/or the ball were long gone.
Once, my friend, Bob, nearly blew a gasket when Tulsa lined up on fourth down at
mid-field ready to go for a first down. He yelled and stomped and hollered for someone to
get back, back, back to catch the ball because they were going to kick. But no one did,
and the beautiful quick kick made it all the way down to the four before stopping. Even I
couldnt believe we suckered for that old trick.
Taylor's touchdown pass from Ryan was
a beauty. A perfect throw and Taylor needed all 6 foot 6 of himself jumping high over the
defenders to catch it. Unfortunately, two other chances with our receivers wide-open
misfired. Speaking of a misfire, another non-field goal attempt by Clark may have kept him
from ruining his perfect record because there was no ball to kick, but he did pick it up
and run with it. A very brave thing to do.
A few too many rushed passes, missed blocks, runs
that couldnt find a hole, ill-timed interceptions and fumbles kept us from giving
Tulsa the battle we had dreamed of. By the end of the game, I had yelled Oh,
NO! so many times, my sons moved up a few rows pretending not to know me.
I go to practice every Thursday not just to show the guys that I care, but to be
uplifted by their irrepressible spirit. They are a team, a whole team, whose dedication
will win some games soon. I dont know why we always seem to come unglued in the
second half, but mark my words, someone is going to step up and be that Glue we need to
hold it together when we beat Navy Saturday. Who will it be?
This season seems to have taken on qualities of the nightmarish
HOUSTON (Sept. 29) -- Its hard to be happy even today. I have tried. I had hoped
that I would mellow after a few days and be able to be a little more objective about the
game. But that didnt work. I did not mellow.
I should have been at peace by Sunday, but the game just wouldnt go away. That
night I had an exhausting nightmare that I was scrambling around behind the line of
scrimmage and I couldnt find anyone to take the ball. Finally, the quarter ended and
they carried me off the field.
From the Distaff End of the Bench
That has absolutely nothing to do with anything,
except the frustration of not being able to move the ball for more first downs and keep
some momentum going. Four interceptions will stop a drive dead in its tracks. We did have
two exciting touchdowns -- one explosive run by Ross and one Dillard-like catch by Toren
in the endzone, and one dead-center field goal by Clark when we finally got down close
enough to kick one. Of course, there were some great runs in the middle of that
beleaguered game plan, but they were usually overwhelmed by what followed.
Bradshaw tried to stop Vanderbilt all by himself; and there were others out there,
Jammer, Gaines, Sendejo, Nordstrom, working to plug holes that wouldnt stay plugged.
The fact that our defense held a solid Commodore line with a solid quarterback calling the
shots to only 10 points in the first half showed what our defense can do when its
not tired and riddled with injuries.
That first quarter blockbuster of a hit by Gaines echoed all over the stadium. It was
inspirational in its passion, as the Coach likes to say, and it fired hope in every heart.
Every heart except the picky officials who assumed he went for the helmet when you could
tell he hit leather from the pop. Well, it fired up the fans and the players; and at least
15,000 of those 19,753 fans booed the call long and loud, but obviously the officials
cant hear any better than they can see.
John Thomas and Ryan were totally surrounded by rushing torrents of yellow pants intent
on flattening them like an avalanche,. Ryan got his bell rung a couple times and looked
jelly-legged walking off the field, but he had some good moments. John Thomas finally
decided to use his feet to escape the onslaught and made some first downs, but too little
Neither one had time to look for an open receiver if one ever got loose. The Vandy pass
coverage was smothering, but more than once I thought they rode the backs of our receivers
before the ball got there. In fact, I have never seen defenders stick so close to the
receivers they are guarding. We always seem to give receivers too much space, either that
or we just arent fast enough to catch them. Ross and Goodson found a few hard-earned
holes in the line, but not enough to sustain a drive. Vanderbilt just seemed to know where
we were going and beat us there.
By the fourth quarter, I knew if I were hot and tired up high in the stands, the team
must be hot and tired, too. And they were. It was obvious that the defense was dissolving
into a puddle from too many minutes, too many plays, too many quarters on the field. Their
batteries just ran out of juice. I was so proud of the effort that they kept putting out
and kept putting out even though by the end of the game they could barely raise their
A few bright moments--Chalk up another field goal and two more extra points for Clark .
His conference record is growing. And Kyles punting was the best thing going for our
offense, He was kicking the air out of the ball. Another bright spot at the game, as far
as I was concerned, was the packed student sections. I hope the team noticed that raucous
Owls filled up two whole sections. The MOB was in another, but the students were right
there with you until the fourth quarter and then we lost a few. Well, a lot. ..But the
ones who stayed to the end sang Rices Honor for the team and meant every word of it.
I know how hard all of the guys work at practice, I know what they can do, and I know
they have a lot confidence in each other, and one of these games when they can put it all
together were going to win. When I saw that Nick didnt take any snaps
Thursday, I was pretty disheartened, because I had bet my new Vanderbilt grandson-in-law
that Rice would win, and now I have to wear a black Vanderbilt T-shirt when I take them
out to dinner. I hope he likes Taco Bell.
As for our first victory, I guess well just have to wait a little longer to see
them put it all together.
Maybe Owls didn't chalk
up W, but game gave cause for cheer
And now, finally, we'll see two brainy schools bang
HOUSTON (Sept. 20) -- Now those are the fighting Rice Owls I know and love! This was
not the same team that played Texas Tech and UAB. And it certainly wasnt because the
quality of the opposition was not present -- number 16 was there as advertised. The fans
were there, 53,000 of them, plus their football team and a myopic Big 12 officiating crew.
From the Distaff End of the Bench
Rice was changing before our eyesor rather my
ears. If the second half had been the first half, who knows but that the Cowboys would
have checked the schedule to see if the wrong team showed up. No doubt they were angry
after UH wopped them, and out to prove how great they were to their roaring fans and
themselves. And for the first half, they did just that with some luckless mistakes and
some gimme touchdowns from the Owls wrapped up and given to a team that didnt need
any help from us.
What the score at the end of the first half didnt show was a surprising Rice
defense holding OSU to three or four 3-and-outs. The second half team really surprised OSU
-- not only the defense but also the offense. They hit and scratched and swarmed and
caught passes and ran and ran faster and faster as the game progressed. OSU certainly
didnt expect to see 24 points on the other side of the scoreboard when the game was
As for me, I was in heaven. Three times Rice RAN from short yardage in for a touchdown.
Great day in the morning, somebody finally heard my ranting about those short passes for
touchdownsnot---usually passing into three defenders and one beleaguered Owl. Not
only was the team changing its attitude, but the coaches were changing, too.
Enter Charles Ross. I dont know where he came from but he was the ghost of James
Casey in the Jumbo package. I thought it was called the Thor package, but it was grand by
any name. Ross, bless him, with a direct snap, made a one yard touchdown, a two yard
touchdown, and a three yard touchdown against a formidable defense who knew what was
coming. The O Line just keeps on getting better, giving our quarterbacks time to execute
their plays instead of ducking an oncoming train.
It will be fun to see two brainy schools banging helmets on the field Saturday. Both
teams know pressure in the classroom as well as on the field, and both will represent the
best of the Student Athlete. Thats rare in this football world that is all about
rankings, Ive been used to scrunching my shoulders up around my ears these past two
games, but not tonight. Tonight I needed to put them down so that I could clap.
Lopsided loss to
no evidence of team's effort
HOUSTON (Sept. 14) -- At 6:30 PM this Sunday evening, I finally got to listen to the
Rice-Texas Tech football game. I pushed the Start button on my old tape recorder and
voila! There I was in beautiful Lubbock on a very windy day with my Rice Owls and hope in
From the Distaff End of the Bench
To arrive at this point, I had to revert back to some
20 year old equipment, an old black boxy tape recorder (that I finally found in the bottom
of a drawer in the toy room,) two 90 minute tapes, my $100 transistor radio, and my very
nice son, Mike, who ran upstairs to turn the tape over every 45 minutes.
I was at a couples shower for one of my granddaughters and her husband-to-be, and
believe me, Grandmother had to be THERE. The problem was that I couldnt find a
single person in this highly technical world, not a computer geek, I-phone addict, or
radio guru who could tell me how to save a radio broadcast. Finally, in desperation, I did
it the old-fashioned way with the radio standing next to the tape recorder in an upstairs
closet while the party raged on below.
Well, it worked Mr. 97.5, and next time you "just dont know how that can be
done," call me. The game burst upon my very tired ears two hours after my house full
of company left, and now, three hours and 1328 digits on the counter read-out later, I am
alone with a column to write.
I solved the problem of saving the game, but not my Rice Owls. Even eeetie ichiban doesnt
help tonight. I have six legal-size pages of notes and I dont know what to do with
them. I was so tired of hearing "Potts, Potts, Potts," I wished I had had one to
throw. I think he was worse than Webb.
I know that John Thomas outdid Nick tonight on the gridiron, so the battle of
quarterbacks will rage on. However, Ryan might muddy the water a little, but then he is
just a redshirt freshman, and besides the baseball team needs him to be healthy come
We spent more time trying to get out of our own end zone, than we did trying to get
into theirs. And the whole middle of the gridiron was a mine field. There were a couple of
really good plays that stand out because there were so few of them. I still havent
figured out why we keep passing on 4th and 2 at the goal line.
I know we are working five or six tailbacks looking for the golden goose, but surely
one of them could get over the goal line if his teammates just pushed hard enough.
Finally, John Thomas hit Taylor Dupree over center once for our lone touchdown and I guess
that answered my question. It will work if you do it enough times.
Kyle had a very good average punting considering that he had terrible field position
all night, mostly in our own end zone or red zone, it seemed. At least, the announcers
said that he put enough air under the ball that his team mates could catch up with it. One
bright light in the game was the 90th straight PAT for Clark , and that really
IS a good thing.
I read the paper after I listened to the game; I looked at the stats but they
didnt mean anything to me; they didnt show how hard the whole team played
against a behemoth line; they didnt tell how gutsy our quarterbacks had to be
knowing that a train was barreling down on them with every snap, or how our receivers
could barely see the oncoming ball for defenders swarming around them. It was a tough loss
because it didnt show what we could do, unfortunately, it just showed what we
Part of me kept wanting the batteries to go dead on that old tape recorder during the
game; they didnt, but mine are beginning to run down now. Next week, I promise, no
adventures, just a radio, a legal pad, and me. And Oklahoma State.
A bad case of
It's difference between being at top of Page One and winding up at the bottom of
HOUSTON (Sept. 8) -- EEETIE ICHIBAN. Im pretty sure thats not
how you spell it, but my Doctor husband said that was what the South Koreans used to say
to him when he was treating a wound. IT HURTS. And somehow it just felt good
to say that!
I had to sit through a sermon on forgiveness Sunday before I could even think about
that game against UAB Saturday. I was thinking some pretty untoward thoughts there for
awhile, and though they were true, I certainly wasnt qualified to pin point the
problem. I just wasnt ready to let go of our winning streak.
From the Distaff End of the Bench
I was mad at Comcast, too, Saturday because the
televised game was pretty exclusive, not even the sports bars had it. Naturally, I have
U-Verse. Everybody I know who has Comcast was always mad at it, until the Rice-UAB game
showed up. I had to go to my sons house to watch it and somewhere along the line I
found myself wishing I had just listened on the radio.
But I will say one thing about the announcers, they bragged on Rice. They never quit
saying how amazing Rice wasfine athletic program with high academics, hard to
get in to much less play football and make their grades. Then, do you know how
much a Rice scholarship is worth? More than $30,000 a year, I think. Later,
Boy, Rice is tough, do you know how smart those guys must be? Well, that was
fun for a change.
Then Sunday, I thought the Chronicle had mercifully forgotten to print anything about
the Rice-UAB game. I finally found it, however, on the bottom of page C6. Under the
Houston game. I guess I was so used to Rices being at the top of the page during our
amazing run to the Texas Bowl last season that being just another game brought me back to
earth with a thud.
Coach Bailiff, like a good skipper, just kept saying me, me, me, but,
believe me, there were a lot of coaches and players out there feeling some
me-itis too. The only way the coach could have had the guys practice stopping
Webb would have been to run a big slippery eel through the line and give them a net. We
sacked him once and it took four men to bring him down. Every time he ran with the ball,
at least five or six Rice guys touched him or grabbed air reaching for him. Prayers did
not plug one hole. He was something else; I hope he graduates.
I was truly excited when Rice seemed to sail down the field during the first quarter.
Two fantastic returns of kickoffs by Shane gave us a jump start toward the goal line. Both
possessions moved easily down inside the ten, and then Blooey. Nada. Zip. Its been a
long time since we couldnt get the ball into the end zone from the two. Of course
the years tend to blur at my age, but UAB certainly wasnt the Great Wall of China,
even though they seemed to be most of the first half. John Thomas was off to a bad start,
and the team wasnt helping him much. At least he squeezed a field goal out of them
near the end of the first half. Nick picked us up in the second half and we finished off
some face-saving touchdowns.
Looking at our 156 yards rushing and 235 yards passing does not begin to show how many
fine receptions and runs were negated by penalties. Nine penalties for 80 yards
doesnt sound like very many, but they surely cost us some touchdowns. Fumbles and
mistakes and missed opportunities began to take its toll on the team by the end of the
game. Still some players rose up and played their hearts out on offense and defense. The
others tried, but the magic just wasnt there.
I love John Thomas, he has been my friend for three years, but I believe deep in my
heart that Nick built a fire under the teams sagging spirits, which was badly
needed. Not only did he score a touchdown himself with some scrambling, but threw a great
pass to a wide-open Luke for a 52 yard touchdown, and gave Marcus a chance to push one
over the goal for six. Everybody had a bad case of arrhythmia Saturday; and the coaches
need to decide soon which quarterback possesses that elusive rhythm that makes a good team
Joyce Hardy Archives (Go to Page 2) ....