Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 8/4/12
David Bailiff is fired up. No, make that FIRED. UP. That's closer to how he says it. And David Bailiff is FIRED. UP. because he is the Rice football coach, and it is almost time for Rice football season. "I am fired up," Bailiff said on Saturday, the first day of fall practice. "I really am. About two days ago you get, as a coach, where you really don't sleep, because you're excited about what's coming, and you set your alarm this morning for 5:30 but you wake up at 4 and you pull in here and you absolutely get goosebumps." Saturday's practice marked the beginning of the 101st season of Rice football. The Owls went 436-564-32 in their first 100 years. In the program's 50th year, President John F. Kennedy famously noted the challenge of winning at Rice, when in a speech in Rice's football stadium, he asked, "But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas? We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard." Fifty years later, it has not gotten any less hard, but it is Bailiff's charge to reverse that trend. He is 23-38 in five seasons and his contract is up after the 2013 season, so there is a sense that the direction of the program, and Bailiff's career, could depend on the outcome of this season. We don't do these things because they are easy. Ironically enough, Rice does not play Texas this year and that is part of the reason to be fired up about Rice football in 2012. The Owls rarely have a schedule that could be described as "favorable," but this one is less the gauntlet of 2011, when Rice's nonconference games were at Texas, at Baylor and at home against Purdue. This year the Owls host UCLA, which made a coaching change after a 6-8 2011 season, play at Kansas, which also has a new staff and is on a 10-game losing streak, and play at Louisiana Tech. The Owls also had an especially damaging rash of injuries last year, maybe most significantly to running back Sam McGuffie, the onetime Michigan Wolverine who got just 38 carries as a junior in 2011. McGuffie is healthy again and the Owls have plans to use him in every kind of way. He's been spending a lot of time at receiver, but the big idea is really to just make sure he gets the ball one way or another. The schedule is easier, the team is healthier and the big takeaway is that Rice is fired up. "This is a team that absolutely can compete for this conference championship," quarterback Taylor McHargue said. "A bowl game is the minimum expectation." Yes, Rice would like to win the Conference USA championship like anybody else, but the season won't be a bust if they don't. This season is about becoming a winning team again. "We want to go to a bowl game," McGuffie said. "I think that's the same goal as a lot of other teams. I think a bowl game is definitely possible." Rice hasn't played in a bowl game since 2008, when it won 10 games and Bailiff got a five-year contract extension. In the four years since, its crosstown rival, Houston, became a national storyline while the Owls have suffered three losing seasons in a row. We do these things because they are hard. Bailiff is a man of enthusiasm, a man of humor, a man of situational insomnia. He said he was happy to be at media day on Saturday, because media day meant practice was beginning, and practice beginning means he gets to coach the Rice football team again, and he is fired up. "You know, in the summer, you really can't work with them," he said. "So it's just fabulous to hear them back in the halls, to hear the laughter and the stories, to hear them talking to each other out there. We have a very optimistic feeling about this season."
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Hall of Fame coach: Stephen Curry is the best of all time

Reggie Bush on NFL future: ‘I’m not retiring’

Derek Fisher blasts Rondo over triangle offense criticism

Report: Marshawn Lynch hasn't spent any playing money

Ex-King says he could do 'much better job' than George Karl

Trainer thought Thomas Davis would not play in Super Bowl


Todd Gurley named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year

Durant, Westbrook on loss to Warriors: We're not scared

Report: Eagles interested in bringing back Nick Foles

Report: Manning hinted to teammates he plans to retire

Barry Sanders shares thoughts on Megatron retirement talk

WATCH: K-State players storm student section after big win

Cam Newton doesn't disappoint with Super Bowl outfit

Stephen Curry to serve as guest drummer for Panthers

Charlie Sheen tweets advice for Johnny Manziel

Cardale Jones predicts he will play in Super Bowl

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

Marcin Gortat fires back at critic on Twitter

WATCH: Kerr told Warriors he was happy to have close game

Broncos could have tough decision with franchise tag

WATCH: Steph Curry does 'Dab' on court on eve of Super Bowl

Another star confirmed for Super Bowl 50 halftime show

WATCH: Wayne Simmonds loses his cool, earns match penalty

Winners and losers from 2016 Hall of Fame vote

Brett Favre, Tony Dungy headline Hall of Fame Class of 2016

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Curry to serve as drummer for Panthers

Report: Marshawn Lynch plans to retire

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Five outrageous predictions for Super Bowl 50

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

The top six matchups that could decide Super Bowl 50

Seven unheralded players set to make major impacts in SB 50

10 underrated performances in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

X-factors in Super Bowl 50

NHL nightmare: No Canadian teams in playoff hunt

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker