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Rice is the hardest job in Conference USA

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Small private school. Lack of a winning tradition. Yep, Rice definitely has the infrastructure to become a G5 powerhouse and advance your career.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Conversation in my head:

"What do you think about rice?"

"Well, yellow rice is good, It's the best type of rice, followed by brown rice with white rice being last because white rice simply has no flavor."

"Not that rice. Rice University."

"Oh, well, I would think of academics, the baseball team, the MOB, Houston and then football. In that order."

To put that a little more simply, Rice football is the hardest and least desirable job in Conference USA. If you're trying to make the leap to the P5 as quick as possible or become a G5 lifer, being the head coach of the Rice Owls isn't the way to go.

PROS

  • Location, location, location. Being in Texas where you can literally take a drive down the road and find elite talent is the best thing going for this job. Being in Houston instead of say, Lubbock, is even better.
  • Rice Stadium is getting a much needed facelift as the north end zone will no longer feature empty seats and instead will feature new athletic facilities that will be accompanied with a new scoreboard. The renovations will cost $60 million and is expected to be finished in time for the start of this year's season which shows the administration at Rice is willing to support the football program. Check out the digs!
  • CUSA West isn't all that daunting.

CONS

  • It's hard to get players admitted into Rice. Due to their academics it shrinks the pool of athletes you have to choose from which puts you at a disadvantage.
  • Fan support is non-existent as Rice annually ranks near the bottom of CUSA in fan attendance. Having a small alumni base is part of the problem as Rice is only ahead of Tulsa in student enrollment if you take away the academies among FBS teams. Still, you'd like to see at least some type of home-field advantage. From 2012-2014 in which Rice went to three straight bowl games, average attendance was just over 19,000 a game.
  • Houston is a great town but you will face the unique challenge of being a college coach in a pro market. In order to get noticed you must win big. Even if you win there's still the potential of being lost in the shuffle due to the Astros, Rockets, and Texans.
  • To make matters worse right across town is the Houston Cougars. They are rolling and as long as Tom Herman is still tippin' on 44s Houston will continue to dominate the headlines and cast a shadow over Rice.
  • Its a baseball school bro.

Making the case for why Rice should be last: Jeremy Adcock, UDD Editor

Rice has a history that includes a long stint the the old Southwest Conference. They have a 3-0 record versus Alabama, 13 wins over LSU, 30 wins over Baylor, 21 wins over Texas, 27 wins over Texas A&M, and 35 wins over TCU. The Owls finished in the AP Top 25 eight times. That is a hell of a historical resume.

But, let's be real. Rice has not been a relevant team in years. The last win over Texas was in 1994 and before that... 1965. They have five bowl berths since 1961. You can point to the three year bowl streak (2012-2014) and say that they are back, but even then the attendance barely broke 20,000 in one single season. Last year's debacle was a complete momentum stopper.

The biggest reason to put Rice this low is apathy. Ask another CUSA fan about WKU and you get strong opinions. Ask about the Florida schools and people have opinions. Even Old Dominion and Charlotte will garner some sort of interest. Ask about Rice and it's like um, yeah, that's the school with the good baseball team. No matter what Bailiff does at Rice, there are too many schools in that area of Texas that people actually care about and that is why this job is last on the list.

If you were playing NCAA Football in an online dynasty...

You choose the Rice job because you see all the advantages that recruiting at Rice offers. You're also probably a hipster and want to be different just for the sake of being different as your buddies are choosing the obvious schools that have inherent advantages.

It's in Texas so that's a huge bonus. Got 'croots in the backyard yo. It's also a great academic school so you have another advantage over your competitors if you want to go out of state for recruits and waive that Ivy League of the south flag. You're thinking "This job is gonna be cake. I'm gonna get talent here in no time. I'm about to turn Rice into the Stanford of the G5!" By year four you expect to field a juggernaut.

If you choose this job in real life...

You want to become a college football head coach bad. I mean real bad. You also probably have ties to the state of Texas as the last four Rice head coaches before you at some point in their coaching careers coached in Texas before getting the gig.

You don't mind the hurdles and eventual headaches that will await you in the coming years and enjoy playing the underdog role.

You're also an optimist. You figure a nice three-year stretch will give you a pretty good opportunity at some Big 12 jobs.

Verdict

Being a strong academic school in college football is hard. Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, and Purdue have struggled for years with consistency. Being one as a member of the G5 is even tougher as in some cases you can't even get off the mat (looking at you Tulane).

Some G5 jobs are hard but the celling is limitless. Rice isn't one of those jobs. Its just hard with a celling. Down years are to be expected and depending on how big you won before you may have the luxury to have multiple down seasons without losing your job.

CUSA West is one of the more weaker divisions in college football so wins are definitely on the table. However, its hard to get any major offers with a sub .500 record so you may be stuck in Houston for the long haul and eventually get stale as David Bailiff is finding out.