Rice Owls

HUNTINGTON, WV - DECEMBER 06: Rakeem Cato #12 of the Marshall Thundering Herd and head coach Doc Holliday celebrate defeating the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs 26-23 at Joan C. Edwards Stadium after the Conference USA championship game on December 6, 2014 in Huntington, West Virginia.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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As revenues rise in Power 5, C-USA sees revenue in freefall

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The Power 5 conferences have never been richer. That doesn’t mean business is easy for everyone in college sports, though.

According to a report from Harry Minium of the Virginian-Pilot, Conference USA is in line to receive $2.8 million — total — from its 2016-17 television contracts. Keep in mind Texas will earn more than $40 million on its own next year, with the entirety of the Big Ten and SEC soon to follow.

Conference USA received $9.95 million in fees from CBS Sports Network and Fox Sports this year and another $6.15 million in exit fees from schools leaving for the American Athletic Conference, but each of those revenue streams is set to dry by the fall.

Due to incredibly unfortunate timing, C-USA had to return to the negotiating table at a time sports networks are in between the bubble of the cable explosion and whatever comes next in the digital world. The result is C-USA returns to ESPN and its fire hose of much-needed exposure, but at a substantially reduced rate. The league will also be found on CBS Sports Network, beIN Sports and the American Sports Network.

“Right now, the television market is horrible,” C-USA commissioner Judy McLeod said. “The pool of money that’s there is going to the big guys.”

According to Minium, C-USA’s $200,000 per school media rights distribution ranks ninth in FBS, trailing each of the Power 5 schools along with the AAC ($2 million per), the Mountain West ($1.7 million) and the MAC ($670,000) but ahead of the Sun Belt ($100,000).

Houston, Rice extend Bayou Bucket series

HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 29:  Vance McDonald #88 of the Rice Owls looks for room to run as Colton Valencia #20 of the Houston Cougars defends at Reliant Stadium on September 29, 2012 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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Houston and Rice are extending their Bayou Bucket rivalry into the next decade. The clubs announced on Monday agreements for games on Sept. 5, 2020 at Houston and at Rice on Sept. 11, 2021.

The crosstown foes have not met since 2013 and won’t again until 2017. Houston holds a 29-11 advantage in the series that dates back to 1971. The Cougars have won each of the last three meetings.

Additionally, Houston announced a four-game series with UTSA to be played in stages. The first game will take place Sept. 2, 2017, in San Antonio, and the other three will follow from 2022-24.

Houston and UTSA have split their only two previous meetings.

The addition of the UTSA game completes the Coogs’ 2017 non-conference schedule. Houston opens at UTSA and visits Arizona a week later, then hosts a two-game home stand against Rice and Texas Tech.

Rice replaces A&M on its 2019 schedule with… Texas

AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 12:  Darik Dillard #1 of the Rice Owls breaks free against the Texas Longhorns during the second quarter on September 12, 2015 at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
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Texas and Texas A&M can’t seem to get together to renew their rivalry on the football field, but the two programs still find their scheduling paths crossing every now and again.

Texas and Rice announced in separate press releases Thursday afternoon that the two schools have reached an agreement on a new three-game series that will renew the in-state rivalry yet again.  The first game of that series will be played at NRG Stadium in Houston on an undetermined date in 2019. The final two games will be played in Austin during the 2021 and 2023 seasons.

The 2019 game on Rice’s end will replace a previously-scheduled matchup with A&M.  According to Rice, A&M requested a release from that game because of a scheduling conflict.

The Longhorns and Owls have met 94 times previously, the most recent coming just this past season.  Those 94 games represent the most Rice has ever played against a single opponent.

UT owns a 72-21-1 edge in the all-time series.  The Owls only win in the series since 1965 came in October of 1994.

LaTech announces date with LSU as Tigers fill out 2018 slate

BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 14:  Dustin Mitchell #43 of the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs is tackled by Jacob Cutrera #54 and Kelvin Sheppard #11 of the LSU Tigers at Tiger Stadium on November 14, 2009 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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If you’re into the in-state football thing, mark your 2018 calendars accordingly.

Louisiana Tech announced Thursday afternoon that it has scheduled a 2018 game against LSU in Death Valley.  That contest is scheduled for Oct. 20 that year.

This matchup will mark the 20th all-time meeting between the two football programs, with the last coming in 2009.  While the Tigers are 18-1 all-time against the Bulldogs, the school made sure to note in their release that “Tech remains the only public school in Louisiana to have defeated LSU in football.”

“We want to continue to schedule teams from our state when possible, which allows resources to remain in the state and the fans in Louisiana to experience the best venue in the country, Tiger Stadium,” LSU athletic director Joe Alleva said in a statement.

In a separate release, LSU confirmed the addition of 2018 games against Southeastern Louisiana (Sept. 8) and Rice (Nov. 17). Along with the previously announced game against Miami of Florida (Sept. 1 in the Cowboys Classic opener), LSU’s 2018 non-conference schedule is now complete.

Mountain West Conference says no expansion on the horizon

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The Mountian West Conference had been at the center of various conference realignment or expansion rumors over the past week, ranging from the possible return of BYU to potential additions of Rice and/or UTEP. As conference leaders and administrators gathered this weekend to discuss those options and more for football and other sports, it was decided the Mountain West Conference will not seek any adjustments to the conference’s current membership.

“The entire membership expressed great support for the continued development of the Conference,” said Commissioner Craig Thompson in a released statement Monday.  “There is genuine excitement about the growth which has transpired in the less than three years under the present alignment.”

So, for now, the book is closed on possible expansion or realignment with the Mountain Wets Conference, however the conference did state it will continue to monitor the landscape moving forward, so the door for potential changes is still left open by a crack. Maybe that is good news for fans of programs like BYU, Rice or UTEP.

Thompson sparked the conversation last week by suggesting the conference would be leaving a light on for BYU. The football independent program is entering the crosshairs of some important changes with the program with a head coaching change and still evaluating the pros and cons of life as an independent now five years into the non-conference life and preparing for a sixth. Another report suggested the MWC might be discussing inviting Rice and UTEP to the conference to establish a presence in the state of Texas. UTEP has been in communication with the MWC for a few years according to past reports due to geographical struggles with competing in Conference USA.

At this point, the only thing that might cause the MWC to change its official stance is if BYU comes calling about getting back together in the future as a conference member. Odds are the MWC would find a way to welcome BYU back to the fold, but would that require the conference to add one more member to keep the numbers even? If so, then Idaho, New Mexico State, UTEP and Rice may have to start making some sales pitches to the conference.